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Script Review: RUN, RONNIE, RUN! (draft dated: 8/16/00)

Reviewed by Darwin Mayflower




NOTE: The screenplays we review are often in development and may experience many rewrites, some could end up being completely different than what is reviewed here. It is our hope that our reviews generate more interest in the film. Thank you.

RONNIE DOBBS, the hero of RUN, RONNIE, RUN!, is quite a bit like David Spades Joe Dirt. Both come from the southeast. Both sport the now infamous Mullet hairdo. Both are trailer-trash. And both are morons.

In the case of Ronnie, a bellicose loser who marries and remarries the same woman, a despairing TV producer, Terry Twillstein, sees him on a COPS-like show and thinks hes just the man that can pull him out of his hellish job. Terry tracks Ronnie down (following Ronnies mammoth destruction) and brings him to Hollywood. Heres the pitch: Lets combine the old reality TV craze (COPS, etc.) with the new (SURVIVOR, etc.): well have maladroit loser Ronnie get arrested week after week and people will fall in love with him. It works. Ronnies show is a huge hit. He becomes the toast of the town. Sleeping with beer-commercial beauties. Hosting pool parties. Going on shows like POLITICALLY INCORRECT.

RUN, RONNIE, RUN! is nothing more than an overextended SNL bit. It feels like every other post-THE JERK movie about a weird loser who cant do anything right. Ronnie has his gaggle of nutty pals. And the guy out to get him. And the love of his life (who he will lose and win back). It has that same desperate, idiotic feel death-bombs like THE LADIES MAN and ITS PAT had. A string of unfunny jokes barely held together with a loose plot. Characters and creaky jokes seemingly there to crack up only the performers.

RONNIE was written by the team behind the HBO series MR. SHOW. Ive never seen MR. SHOW, but a friend I respect recommends it unreservedly. With his endorsement being what it was, I was expecting RONNIE to be edgy and alive. But its half-baked and the screenplay equivalent of sand in your shorts. The script is written like the five guys who wrote it -- Scott Aukerman, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, B.J. Porter and Brian Posehn -- just sat around with a few beers and jotted down whatever came to mind. With its secondary-character narrator and its early-scenes montage-of-life, the script not only cant distinguish itself from all its stinky predecessors, it appears to be striving to replicate everything that made them jejune in the first place.

The script is too satisfied with its puerile, bottom-rung humor to get anyone to laugh. The writers announce their non-grand goals from the very first scene. As the script opens on a parking lot, we catch the gentle murmur of a stream.

"We hear a zipper being zipped up and Ronnies (sic) hand comes up holding a Snapple bottle full of piss. (The stream sound was really Ronnie pissing!!)"

That could have been funny. If I was four years old. Or if it wasnt so damned obvious.

The writers enthusiasm -- notice the extra exclamation point -- for something so vapid and moronic paints the picture perfectly: these guys, like young schoolboys, are still breathlessly excited over bodily fluids and cheap-as-dirt gags.

Despite five writers, RONNIE runs out of steam at about page sixty and it has nowhere to go. To compensate, the writers throw every bit of out-of-left-field business they can think of and the script, until now just derivative junk, totally loses control. The real actors show up and complain about the set design. A Jack Valenti-type presents us with scenes cut from other movies. The script becomes a MR. SHOW episode. And maybe that wouldnt be so bad, considering what came before it, if only it was funny.

Comedy is in an awful place right now. The Farrellys brought forth the gross-out movie and it has essentially changed the world. Just as everyone made their Tarantinoesque heist flick a few years ago, every nobody with a camera has started to dream up how to further humiliate an actor with some disgusting bodily fluid. At this point the Farrellys cant even keep up with the current trend. Their ME, MYSELF & IRENE was an unfunny disaster. Featuring nonsensical gross-out bits just for the sake of a vile image.

SCARY MOVIE pushed the envelope, exploded it, set it afire and hopefully its dull sequel will shut the whole works down. We can hope, anyway.

I personally believe the popularity of gross-out movies has a lot to do with Americas ridiculously repressed emotions on sex and sexual imagery. If we werent so hung up, seeing sperm or a penis wouldnt launch us from our seats. Hell, in Europe they show nudity on TV. Here in America the debate still rages over pornography. But this is for another time.

RUN, RONNIE, RUN! is a perfect example of how comedy films have gone off the deep end. Were supposed to watch rude dimwits yell and shout and laugh hysterically as they do such things as fart and dunk a womans head in food. Its like were paying to be tortured. Sitting with a person for two hours that we wouldnt sit next to on a train for all of Bill Gates billions. These movies are like sniggering kids who watch merrily for an adults disapproval when they do something as tame as mention making babies or breaking wind. Thats what these films are: the mind-numbingly inane comedy styling of children.

RUN, RONNIE, RUN! has nothing on its mind. It doesnt even stop long enough to satirize the reality-TV rage. All it wants to do is make jokes youve heard a million times before -- wow! a redneck living in a trailer! who drinks beer a lot! -- and smile smugly and self-satisfied.

David Cross and Bob Odenkirk play Ronnie and Terry, respectively. The rest of the cast is filled out with their MR. SHOW co-stars and friends.

This crew of writers was allowed to do anything they wanted. Their goal, clearly, was trivial, brainless laughs. Which I like just fine and would have welcomed. That they couldnt give us that much, and were gratified with this, is a sad commentary.

-- Darwin Mayflower.

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