Next Time, Call Me

I’ve been putting in 7-day work weeks lately; however, this morning, I found myself with a few precious spare hours, grabbed the hubby and headed to the Americana (just for something different) to catch an early viewing of “Cowboys and Aliens.”

I have a deep love affair with the American western, and when I first heard of the project, I thought it sounded brilliant. Replace the tired – and offensive – Cowboys and Indians tale with Cowboys and Aliens. Add in a stellar cast, studio funding and the gifted hands of Jon Favreau, and what you have is something that sounds like a heapin’ bowlful of awesome.

I so wanted to love this film…

Note: I have not read the source material that C & A sprang from. 

A minimum of three stories pieced into one. A man with no name, no memory, and a techno-thingy on his arm. A mining town, decimated by its rivers of gold running dry. A drunken man-child and his patriarch – robbed of gold. A hot girl. Aliens, greedy for gold. A doctor with a crisis of faith and a preacher that performs minor surgeries. A dog. Indians. Gold pocket-watches. Bandits. A murdered whore. Gold.

Narrative continuity is non-existent. Alien abductions. Why? I don’t know. We’re told that the aliens initially abducted people to find out their weaknesses. Within three abductions, they learned that humans are easy to kill. Done. But, they keep abducting them anyway. Why? Dunno. They don’t eat them, they don’t use them as a free work force. They don’t experiment on them – other than to figure out how to kill them. They don’t use them for fertilizer. They don’t like them. Maybe the aliens are hoarders, for they keep abducting humans and stash them in a room with a huge green marble that has a television-soporific effect upon the abductees brains.

The story leads to the big finale. We’re told that the best way to fight the aliens is to lure them outside at day, because the aliens do not see well in daylight. They spend their days in complete darkness. The are like the blind fish that are found in deep underground caves.

The aliens are lured out…. and, well. My. Humans must emit that beep-beep-beep sound in crosswalks equipped for the visually impaired, because it is a fucking slaughterhouse. Those aliens zoom in for the kill at lightning space. No blinking, no squinting, no donning of Ray-Bans, they run and jump and tear. And no one seems surprised.

The Apaches ride off to the tops of the cliffs to fight from above. Apparently there is a Sephora behind a boulder, because when the Apaches appear atop the cliffs, warpaint adorns their faces.

This is frustrating, because you have the gift of the cast, the gift of the director, the gift of studio backing and the GIFT of the sale… and instead of being like Christmas, it’s more like Secretary’s Day.

And yes, it’s easy to say “I could have done it better…” and naive. Writing is hard, hard work. Hard. Work. That being said, I would have given my left [__fill in the blank__] to have been a peanut in a gallery full of film rock-stars, and offer up the following:

My “Cowboys and Aliens” – same cast, same crew, different story:

  1. Take “The Searchers” and, instead of having the young girl taken by a tribe, have her kidnapped by aliens.
  2. Embed the data that aliens live among us
  3. At one point, Daniel Craig discovers that he is an alien.

#RonHoward, #BrianGrazer and those of you at #Dreamworks and #Reliance – you are welcome. Next time, call me. I don’t have to write it – but I am happy to help you make it good. 

Oh. Yes. Consider hiring one or two writers, instead of eight.

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

About princessscribe

Screenwriter. Creator of things. I love tacos. "Midlife on Fire" Volumes 1 & 2 now available at
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12 Responses to Next Time, Call Me

  1. dehelen says:

    I’m so sorry I didn’t warn you before you wasted your precious 3 hours of spare time on this tripe. All I could think about during this movie was “I have to write faster!”


  2. Your first mistake was asking for a plot in your Sci-Fi Action movie.


    • Horse-hockey. Great plots abound in Sci-Fi action films.

      This is a case of writing down to the audience. No amount of SPFX can rectify a script that rings hollow.

      Writing is hard. Writing for mass appeal is hard.

      Story will never fail you. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters.


  3. Wanted to see it but now? LOL.
    I like your take… The SEARCH could take YEARS and of course when they eventually find her, they see that she’s now living as an alien thus, it will be hard to introduce her back into society.

    And since Daniel Craig finds out that he is an alien — damn… They fall in love, build their own space ship and fly away.

    8 writers because 8 writers wanted credit… As usual.



    • So sorry! My spam filter caught you in it.

      I really wanted to love this film. Really. Wanted to.

      I haven’t read any of the drafts; I don’t know if the script was torn apart and put together again through some process or another; I don’t know if the story was rearranged in editing.

      The visuals were gorgeous; great music (as Jan said) and Craig made for the perfect man-with-no-name… and yet, the story suffered terribly from an absence of continuity and *gee-willakers* setups and payoffs.

      But hey – at least these writers have sold.

      And… 8 credited writers. Who knows how many others fingers had worked this one, w/out credit.


  4. I think it does no good to rant on bad story-telling when the movie has Olivia in her nudies.


  5. Jon says:

    All hat and no cattle!


  6. I hear you, Princess! Writing by committee rarely works. Even in good TV, the chain of command is clear, and the genius is on top.


  7. Jan Militello says:

    Credits roll and hubby blurts {loudly}, “Wow. Not what I was expecting. You could have written it much better than that.” Thanks, hon.

    My take, in brief:

    Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Creativity

    Beautiful cinematography. Loved the music. Okay-ish performances. But, and it’s a HUGE BUT!!… Six screenwriters does not a cohesive, coherent, believable, plot-hole free, enjoyable story make.

    And as you say, story is all that matters.

    A huge disappointment, overall, considering the potential of the big guns involved.


  8. My favorite moment was when my husband mixed the M&Ms with the popcorn.


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