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"The Fall Guy" Script Review

By Tim Schildberger - May 20th 2024

On paper, “The Fall Guy” ticks all the boxes. Great lead actors at the peak of their powers who have terrific chemistry, a beautiful location (as an Aussie I’m biased, but Sydney looks great), and the promise of lots of adventure and stunts and thrills and romance and fun.  And yet, the film doesn’t quite work, and hasn’t worked as well as hoped at the box office. Why? Two reasons - the setting and THE SCRIPT.


Despite a LONG history of the public telling filmmakers and studios they don’t really love movies about movies being made, $130 million was given to this script about a stunt guy and a fledgling director trying to re-kindle a romance while keeping a blockbuster movie shoot from going off the rails. You know how we can all relate to the idea of how important it is that a massive movie gets shot on time and budget because if it doesn’t…everyone still gets paid…but they may not get to make another giant movie. Oh no! Such stakes!


And then what will happen if poor, adorable Ryan Gosling’s character doesn’t get back together with the beautiful love of his life Emily Blunt on this particular movie shoot? He’ll never have another chance again…possibly. Unless he calls and suggests a coffee when they are both back in LA after the shoot. Oh no! Such stakes!


I’m not a monster. I know there are plenty of entirely stupid movie plots that become entirely enjoyable films. Suspension of disbelief and all that. So let’s have a look at the ways in which “The Fall Guy” got close, but missed the mark.


With a plot this…let’s go with “fragile”…there’s increased emphasis on characters and relationships and all the emotional connection stuff I talk about endlessly. Give our heroes solid emotional journeys, and all is well.


“The Fall Guy” delivers in the beginning. The bond between our leads is strong, there’s a solid obstacle that continues to provide fuel for some emotional vulnerabilities for Ryan Gosling’s character. The script gives us a clear understanding of their affection for each other, and why they are not currently together.


And then everyone goes to Sydney – and this becomes an ode to stunts and the brave, anonymous people who risk their lives to give us thrills. Emily Blunt’s character once again disappears. Not sure why she keeps vanishing from movies (Oppenheimer??) but please make it stop.  Ryan’s character is launched into some sort of murder investigation (because he’s a stuntman??), and the film about a film falls into a rabbit hole, where stunt set pieces become more important than anything and everything. Which leads to a climax where absolutely nothing makes any sense, but it’s all done with a lot of fun explosions.


A couple more drafts, and this could’ve been a script where people forget it’s even set on a movie set. This could’ve been a lovely little action adventure rom-com, where two people re-discover why they love each other, overcome obstacles both physical and emotional, and find a way to start again.


Sadly, it’s not that. It’s almost that, but it’s not. The writing is sloppy, and gets sloppier. I’m not entirely sure Emily Blunt didn’t improvise most of her lines, which makes me even more worried about the original draft. Ryan Gosling does get some genuinely emotional moments, which really serve to tease us about what this could’ve been.


But it’s close enough to be enjoyable…mostly. Popcorn movie with a great soundtrack. And it provides one excellent, small, teachable moment for screenwriters.


There’s a scene where a henchman is about to kill Ryan Gosling. Ryan genuinely looks like he’s accepting his death. This henchman stands over Ryan, flicking a lighter, like he’s been waiting his whole life to murder Ryan Gosling. I’m sorry, but most humans don’t take orgasmic glee out of murder…or if they do…they are usually not super capable at any other aspect of human interaction.


This henchman is therefore playing a fictional “henchman”, and this moment is a wasted opportunity. How about the henchman compliments Ryan on his stunt career, or asks him a fan boy question? Or fumbles with the lighter, explaining it’s his first time? Or looks sad? Literally ANYTHING other than the cliché would’ve given both the actor, and the scene, a genuine “moment”. It just needed a little more thought to avoid being generic. Not a lot of thought. Just a little.


These moments matter. These moments help build a scene, give a script much more life, and give the audience some unexpected entertainment and engagement.


In the end, this scene sums up the script for “The Fall Guy”. A little more thought in every scene, and with every character, and this could’ve been something special, instead of something occasionally awesome, sometimes tiresome, wildly out of balance, and generally just okay. Oh well.


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