Combustible Celluloid

Get the Script to Woody Allen (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

If there were such a thing as an "American Idol" for neurotic writers, Keith Black would most likely sign up for an audition.

With his new 17-minute short film Get the Script to Woody Allen, his ambition is perhaps better described as "transparent" than as "naked." As the film begins, Keith -- who stars as himself and co-wrote the script -- cold calls possible connections, trying in vain to get his comedy script to the great New York director.

No one ever seems to vocalize the fact that Woody Allen writes his own scripts and has no need of anyone else's work -- especially that of a first-timer.

No, like the many "American Idol" wannabes, this is the story of a writer who wants a foot in the door to fame and fortune, and more than likely doesn't exactly know why he wants it.

Failing to make a big sale, Keith heads out on a blind date. It's a true disaster, going down as one of the most gruesome bad date scenes in history -- in a good way. The old time movie posters might read something like this: "Writhe! as Keith tries to pay for dinner with a coupon. Squirm! as Keith asks the waitress for kissing advice. Shock! as the date invites a friend to their table."

On his way out, Keith meets Woody's optometrist and his adorable assistant (Georgette Malone). She agrees to read the script, which leads to Keith's first successful date.

Directed and co-written by Steve Marshall on a budget of $4000, the film looks professional and only occasionally suffers from stiff acting on the part of some of the supporting cast. As a leading man, Black is not without charm, and he gets away with playing a nebbish better than, say, Ben Stiller.

Yet the film is a typical first-time writer's product. Black has clearly "written what he knows," and what he knows is not that he wants to be a writer, but that he wants to be a writer just like Woody Allen.

Thankfully, Get the Script to Woody Allen does not try to sound specifically like Allen's voice, which gives us hope that Black will eventually try to find his own voice. At the end, Black drops the script on the sidewalk while locked in Malone's embrace. One can only hope that this is a positive omen.

(Get the Script to Woody Allen is currently playing in various short film festivals around the country. Check Get the Script to Woody Allen for details.)

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