Friday, August 11, 2006

Frances McDormand Syndrome


Frances McDormand Syndrome is my new name for what happens when your secondary characters steal the show. Whenever she's on the screen, I just can't take my eyes off her. I've always been a huge movie buff and I like to use movies to learn about story telling. That's one of the reasons I was so psyched to go to Michael Hauge's workshop at Nationals this year. His workshop was the best singular ws I've ever attended at an RWA conference, so if you didn't go, buy the tape!

Now I know Mel is going to pelt me with rotten fruit for saying this, but I just found out last night she didn't like the movie, Chicken Run (!?!) so I don't feel a bit bad saying that Frances McDormand Syndrome is one of the reasons that Failure to Launch just didn't do it for me as a love story. The secondary characters overshadowed the primary ones and made them seem sort of dull. Yes, even a shirtless Matthew McCounaghy, who I think is hot hot hot, just plain took second fiddle to Kathy Bates and a naked Terry Bradshaw. Now that is one love story I would have loved to see! But I'm digressing here. I think the point I'm trying to make is that your secondary characters can either make or break a story and the line between the two is precariously thin.

I was talking to Stephanie (daughter #1) the other day about the film, Something's Gotta to Give, a movie I really love. There was no Frances McDormand Syndrome going on there.The secondary characters (and Frances being one of them) added beautifully to that film. They totally did what they were supposed to do without taking away from the primary characters. But we both agreed that once the story left the beach house, the film seemed to drag a bit. The second half just didn't seem to have the "oomph" that the first half did. There was very little Frances McDormand, very little Keanu Reeves, and a little too much emphasis on the stale "dancing naked Harrys" joke. The movie still works for me, and I know that the second half of the film is all about the decline of the romance, but I've always wondered if beefing up the secondary characters in the second half would have made it better.

11 comments:

Mel Francis said...

Chicken Run was boring.

Failure to Launch was awesome.

I think I'll blame this small defect of yours on age... ROFLMAO

erin said...

Okay Maria, I'll admit that the secondary characters in Failure to Launch were much more interesting than the main ones, but I don't think anyone wants to see a love scene with Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw!

Louisa Edwards said...

Chicken Run is NOT boring. Matthew McConawhatever bores the snot out of me--speak more quickly! I don't have all freaking day for you to "charm" whatever poor shnook is playing opposite you! Get to it!

Maria--I love secondary characters (as you well know) and another role that can steal the show is the villain. Oh, I love me a good bad guy...

MariaGeraci said...

I never said a love scene. I said a love story. Grumble grumble...

And yes, Mel, taste does improve with age. He he

MariaGeraci said...

"Nobody escapes from Tweedy's Farm!"

Okay, I had to get that out of my system, because I love that friggin line, especially as delivered by my thespian daugher, Megan.

And yes, villains are definitely the best, Louisa! You and Mel write some awesome secondary characters, which is what I'm trying to do right now...

Mel Francis said...

I cannot tell you how much I hated Chicken Run.

Seriously. I was so bored. Bored! I say!

And Matthew could stand to speak a little slower if that meant he'd be on screen a little longer!

Oh Matthew...talk dirty to me!

MariaGeraci said...

Well i do love Matthew, I just wish he had been showcased better in FTL. Maybe he should been the one to have a naked room? :)

Lucy said...

Yes Maria (on the nekkid room thing for Matthew)! Double yes!

What were we talking about again?

Ellen said...

Loved Chicken Run.

So disappointed with Failure to Launch. Sorry, Mel. Yes, I love Matthew too, but not enough to overcome flat chemistry and a weak ending. The secondary characters--not just Terry and Kathy, but also Sarah's gloomy roomate and Matthew's friend who hooked up with her--really did steal the show, IMO. :)

Frances McDormand rocks. Not sure what it is about her, but she's awesome.

MariaGeraci said...

(Frances McDormand rocks. Not sure what it is about her, but she's awesome.)

I know what you mean. I absolutely fell in love with her in FARGO, a movie that totally rocks, imo. Last night the hubby and I were watching ALMOST FAMOUS, which we both love and of course, there she was and I couldn't get her out of my head. LOL!

Mel Francis said...

You know what would've made Chicken Run better? If nobody actually escaped Tweedy's farm.

I wanted to see some chicken pot pies by the end of that movie.

Sigh. I just loved FTL. Everything about it. And it wasn't just me. The Fishdog loved it, too.

 

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