Learning from a 0% Rotten Tomatoes Movie

No matter how bad or how good a movie might be, there will always be someone who loves or hates it anyway. That’s why finding a movie with a 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is so rare and so educational. The movie with a 0% approval rating is called “The Layover” and you can see the trailer here.

Why does everyone seem to dislike “The Layover” so much? It’s not the directing because that’s decent. The acting isn’t the greatest but that doesn’t hurt the movie either. It has nothing to do with the lightning, makeup, or costumes. Even the story isn’t bad. The reason why “The Layover” fails so badly is because of the screenplay.

Here’s the basic premise, which is decent. Two women, who are failing in their lives, decide to go on vacation to cheer themselves up. On the flight to Florida, they meet a hot guy who they both fall for. Then their flight gets diverted to St. Louis where they get stuck in a hotel together. The basic plot is both women want the man and will do anything to get him.

That idea isn’t bad. It may not be original, but it shows promise. Where “The Layover” falls apart is in several crucial areas. First, the characters aren’t that likable. Kate Upton plays a pretty blonde who sleeps around and uses her looks to get what she wants. Her friend is a brunette who’s a school teacher but is less sexually active than her friend. While Kate Upton’s character isn’t likable in any way, the brunette’s character is mildly interesting but not compelling. We don’t really care about either character because the screenplay doesn’t give us time to get to know them.

When we’re introduced to the blonde, she’s trying to scam her way into selling cosmetics from North Korea to a major department store. Because she’s a deceptive woman who can only express herself by cussing using the F-word, she’s not that likable.

In one scene, the main characters are in a car, playing a strange game where each person must list several words and the other people have to guess what the person is talking about. When the blonde is supposed to list several words, she simply says, “I hate this f-king game,” and that’s supposed to be funny somehow.

The brunette is slightly more likable when she’s teaching her class and nobody’s paying attention to her. Then she asks a boy to read a book he’s secretly reading instead, and the class gets interested until the principal shows up and reprimands the brunette for her poor teaching to the point where he suggests she quit instead of having him fire her.

Because this teaching incident isn’t that dramatic, there seems little reason for the principal to fire her. As a result, this threat of firing her doesn’t seem real and her character gains little sympathy from the audience.

So the movie starts off with one unlikable character (the blonde) and one character whose troubles don’t seem that interesting (the brunette). Because we don’t really know much about the characters, we eventually don’t care about the entire movie.

A second problem with “The Layover” is that it’s supposed to be a comedy, but much of the comedy involves people liberally spitting out the F-word as if saying that word repetitively somehow is funny. Even worse, there’s plenty of gross out humor ranging from the smell of the blonde belching to a long scene where the brunette is trying to urinate in a filthy gas station restroom and eventually steps in the toilet. Focusing on potty humor for an entire movie is not what comedy is about.

Comedy stems from characters clashing in unique ways based on their personalities. In the original “Ghostbusters,” Bill Murray’s character is established early that he’s a scammer, so when he tells Dan Akroyd’s character not to worry about renting out a fire station for their headquarters because everyone has three mortgages these days, or telling the other Ghostbusters to go ahead of him to confront the giant villain in the end, that’s funny because it’s a further expression of Bill Murray’s character.

In “The Layover,” none of the humor stems from the characters’s personalities because they don’t have any. In lieu of humor, the screenplay relies on plenty of cussing and gross out humor in search of laughs, and it fails miserably.

None of the humor is set up in advance so the non-potty humor the screenplay attempts seem to come out of nowhere. In one scene, the brunette is trying to make the blonde look bad in front of the hot guy by showing a picture of the blonde when she was a little girl and had to wear a protective helmet on her head, which made her look stupid. Once again, the humor fails to evoke any laughter whatsoever because the brunette insults the blonde with her protective helmet by calling her scrotum head.

Because this protective helmet joke comes out of nowhere with no set up, it just pops up long enough to strive for a laugh, then disappears with no follow-up. When “The Layover” isn’t relying on potty humor or cussing for its laughs, it throws out jokes that come out of nowhere so they aren’t funny anyway.

“The Layover” is a perfect example of bad screenwriting. In that regard, it’s an excellent movie to study so you can see what not to do such as:

  • Introduce information that comes out of nowhere that’s never used again so it seems intrusive and irrelevant
  • Fail to make the main characters sympathetic and interesting so their actions and motives make no sense and have no purpose
  • Rely on cussing and urine/feces alone for humor
  • Drag out scenes that have no purpose in advancing the story

Watch “The Layover” to see how bad a movie can possibly get and how to avoid making the same mistakes. If you just avoid one mistake made by “The Layover,” you’ll create a movie that will at least get a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes than 0%.

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