NOTE TO SELF
WRITER: Terry Hart SUBMITTED BY:
PAGES: 37 ATTACHED:
GENRE: Comedy SUBMITTED TO:
CIRCA: Now COVERED BY: PK
Pass DATE COVERED: March 22, 2015
An old man gets a chance to relive the past 50 years of his life except he doesn't know he's reliving them.
BEN (77), standing before his wife's grave, is visited by the quirky X, who gives Ben an opportunity to relive
the past 50 years of his life except Ben won't remember he's reliving them. Ben hurriedly writes notes to
himself in his notebook to refer back to. Ben (27) exits the Portland Communications building after a
successful interview and meets up with his friends at their usual spot. He tells them about the job offer he
received from Portland. They all drink and celebrate. Next morning, Ben notices a notebook on his
nightstand. He flips through it and is alarmed to read stuff about his life in it. One of the cautionary notes
implores him to "stay away from portland". After seeking his friends' counsel, he thinks long and hard and
chooses to decline Portland's offer. He and his friends drink at their spot when he spots a gorgeous woman.
He introduces himself to her. She says her name is Portland. Ben is shocked.
50 years from now, BEN TATUM (77, welldressed) stands before his wife's grave. He rues not spending
enough time with her. X (quirky) shows up and wishes Ben a happy birthday. Ben, having never met X
before, asks how he knows it's his birthday. X tells him he has a birthday present for him: a chance to go
back in time and relive the past 50 years of his life. Ben is no fool and walks away. X gives Ben a brief
demonstration of his offer. Ben is stunned. He excitedly asks whether he'll be at the same place, have the
same friends. X says yes, except he won't remember he's reliving his life. Ben takes out a notebook and
begins writing himself notes to refer back to.
Ben, on his 27th birthday, walks out of the Portland Communications building with a smile on his face and "a
bounce in his step". Meanwhile, at a local bar, his friends gather to celebrate his birthday: RACHEL (late
20s, attractive, single), a graphic designer; PETER (late 20s, divorced), a marketing guy; NICK ("perpetual
Grad student"), a parttime cabbie. Ben arrives. His friends sing Happy Birthday. Ben tells them his interview
at Portland went great and he was offered the job. They continue chitchatting, shooting the shit. Later that
night, as Ben sleeps, the notebook in which the 77yearold Ben made notes to himself materializes on his
Ben awakes and notices the notebook. He opens it and reads. He is alarmed to read some of the things
written. He is confounded. One of the statements reads: "stay away from portland". Ben shudders. He goes
to his office and asks Rachel whether he should take the Portland job. Rachel advises him against it. Peter
joins the conversation and vehemently argues in favor of Ben taking the Portland job.
Ben debates long and hard about the Portland offer. He keeps thinking about the comment in the notebook.
Finally, he calls the office and informs it that he won't be accepting the job.
Rachel is highly surprised to hear Ben turned down the Portland job offer. Just then, the office receptionist
informs Ben Bob Henderson from Portland Communications wants him to call him. Ben lands up at the
Portland office, where BOB (50), Senior VP, gives him a tour. Ben is offered a higher salary and other perks.
Despite that, Ben turns down the offer again. Ben and crew congregate at the same local bar. Everyone is a
bit stunned Ben turned down the offer again. The bartender agrees making that choice must have taken a lot
of balls. Just then, Ben sees a gorgeous woman enter the bar. There is an instant connection between her
and Ben. He introduces himself. She does the same, says her name is Portland. Ben is shocked.
This screenplay has quite a potentialfilled premise that can be a springboard for significant comedy and
complexity. However, the execution leaves the reader feeling rather underwhelmed. The phenomenon of
time travel is introduced and treated in a fairly frivolous manner. This robs the script of the gravitas it needs
to be a believable story. Since the premise itself is so outlandish, I opine it would work in the story's favor to
dial down the wackiness and be a subtle, grounded comedy with wit and charm instead of being broad and
inyourface. The idea is decent, but because of the subpar execution, this screenplay gets a Pass.
The first and biggest question I have after finishing the script is: if the same notebook that 77yearold Ben
had materializes in the 27yearold Ben's life, can't he simply read through it to know about himself? Even
ignoring the fact that he has the same notebook for a halfcentury, hasn't he written something in there over
the past 50 years that can provide some clues and/or context to the young Ben? How is it that the only thing
the young Ben reads upon opening the notebook is what the old Ben wrote minutes before becoming the
young Ben? The writer should consider this question and resolve the situation to strengthen the story's
humor and impact. The way it is now, it strains believability.
I don't know what exactly Ben's profession is. Is he a communication advisor? A social media strategist? If
the San Francisco Governor and the Kardashians are among his clients, I’m not sure why he is leaving such
a presumably profitable business to work in corporate America. His motivations, wants, needs, desires are
unclear. The writer should definitely take the time to flesh Ben out fully and make him as specific as
possible. Same goes for the other characters: apart from their names and professions, there is little there to
distinguish them from each other.
The conversations the characters have are rather childish and insignificant. They frequently go off on wild
and needless tangents that subvert their supposed intelligence and acumen. I think a sharp focus on their
personalities in terms of their personal and professional stations in life will go a long way in helping the writer
craft appropriate and entertaining dialogue that moves the action forward. The way the scenes unfold now,
all the characters sound pretty much the same. Homing in on each character's individuality and arming them
with specific, depthful lines will make the entire screenplay pop.
Overall, the lack of specificity and sharpness left me indifferent to this work. It'sn't awful by any means, but it
is thin and unfocused. The idea is not bad at all, and can be milked to a great degree. But the existential
significance of traveling back in time and having the opportunity to relive your life from the age of 27 is not
given the reverence it deserves. It'd behoove the writer to not trivialize this premise and infuse the story with
truth and depth instead of coasting on superficial humor.
Excellent Good Fair Poor
A Characters X
B Characters X
Writing Style X (half) X (half)