I chose Isn’t it Romantic (starring Rebel Wilson) for you guys this week, because I wanted you to see a beat sheet for a romantic comedy. I didn’t realize how hard it would be! If you had a chance to watch and beat the movie, I’d love to compare notes.Here’s what I got for it: I’d call this movie an Out of the Bottle trope—a story wherein a Cinderella character appears to get everything she’s wished for, only to discover that magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Act I ---------------------- 1. OPENING IMAGE: Young Natalie is watching Pretty Woman on television, enjoying every moment of it. It’s clear she wishes she could feel loved and happy just like the Julia Roberts character.
2. THEME STATED: Her mom tells her to quit watching that stuff because “There’s no happy endings for girls like us,” and “Life’s no fairytale.”
3. SETUP: Natalie is determined that she not rely on a guy to make her happy. She wants to be respected, and to make herself happy. Instead, she fails to stand up for herself, fails to go after what she wants, and fails to see the good things that are right in front of her.
4. CATALYST: Natalie’s mugged in the subway, but unlike your usual damsel-in-distress, she fights back—and knocks herself out.
5. DEBATE: Natalie wakes up in her “upside down world”—which really threw me for a loop. Where was the debate? The debate’s a major part of Act I, so it had to be somewhere. It wasn’t until the next major pivot that I figured it out.Yes, Natalie wakes up in her upside down world, but she doesn’t accept anything to be true. She meets a hot guy, Blake, who drives her to her apartment and professes to believe her to be the most beguiling creature he’s ever met.She knows fairytales aren’t real, knows she could never just magically want everything she’s ever wanted, and she’s determined to get the fantasy to stop.She tries to recreate the events that put her in the hospital, but instead she’s arrested.She can’t remember anyone’s phone number for her one phone call, except she magically has the flower petals in her pocket that Blake gave her.
Act II ---------------------- 6. BREAK INTO TWO: Natalie basically says, “what the heck,” and throws the flower petals in the air, trusting in the magic to put the numbers in the right order for Blake’s phone number. Her decision to embrace her magical predicament, marks her acceptance of the journey and is her first step into the unknown world of Act II.
7. B-STORY: Blake comes to Natalie’s rescue and when she hears her own voice narrating the scene and telling her she needs to find love—she decides it might as well be a hunky millionaire.
8. FUN & GAMES: Blake tells Natalie they’re going on a date—and suddenly her stereotypically gay neighbor is there to help her get ready.Blake takes her to his yacht where a private chef has prepared their dinner. They do all the romantic things a perfect date consists of. But when Blake says he feels as if he’s found his soul mate, Natalie can’t say the same.At work, Josh covers for her. Later, he brings her dinner and they joke around and flirt, and Natalie begins to recognize that the things she should feel for Blake, she feels for Josh.
9. MIDPOINT: Josh and Isabella announce they’re getting married—tomorrow. Right away, Natalie knows she has to try to stop the wedding, and it has to be done in one day.This is how you recognize the midpoint because the shiz gets real. There’s urgency, and the stakes are very real. This is not just about some mythical perfect man, this is about her best friend Josh. This isn’t just about how much she cares for him, but also about what’s best for him.
10. BAD GUYS CLOSE IN: Natalie and Josh have a moment together where Natalie suggests that maybe it should have been the two of them together. Josh replies that people should be able to marry their best friends, but then says to Natalie, “Maybe in another life.”
11. ALL IS LOST: Natalie wakes up on the day of the wedding to the sound of Blake on a phone call. She overhears him taking credit for her plans for his hotel. When she confronts him about it, he admits that she’s made the plans for him, so they might has well have been created by him. He also tells her that she’ll need to quit her job and change her name because no woman of his should be working, and Natalie isn’t a good enough name for him and his friends.
12. DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: Natalie realizes she’s made a mistake by going along with the fantasy. She knew what she needed and it never was a guy like Blake. She starts packing her bags.
Act III ---------------------- 13. BREAK INTO THREE: Natalie knows exactly what she needs to do—she needs to stop the wedding!
14. FINALE: a) Gather the Team Her friend Donny shows up and gives her a pep talk. He talks about how he didn’t find happiness until he learned to love himself—but Natalie thinks he’s encouraging her to tell Josh she loves him.
b) Execute the Plan Natalie runs to the chapel to stop the wedding.
c) Hightower Surprise Natalie interrupts the wedding, but when she tries to tell Josh she loves him, she realizes she loves herself more and she needs to show herself love and attention.
d) Dig Down Deep Natalie wakes up from the mugging in the real-world hospital. Instead of being disappointed, she’s thrilled. She now knows that she already has it all. Her life is perfect just as it is.e)
e) Execute New Plan The only thing she’s missing is to go for what she wants. She presents her plans to the committee and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. She talks to Josh and realizes that he hasn’t been dreaming about a sexy supermodel like she assumed, but he’s been watching her because to him, she’s perfect. She asks Josh out on a date, and he says yes. Then she goes out to get herself a cup of coffee because she’s capable of taking care of herself—from being the boss-lady, to getting herself coffee. She can do it all. She can have it all.
15. FINAL IMAGE: Natalie has the fairytale life she’s always assumed she could never have—and there’s a musical dance number to prove it!
While this isn’t exactly a mirror of the Opening Image, the sentiment is appropriate. Little girl Natalie wished for the fairytale, but was told she could never have it—but grown-up Natalie is living a fairytale, and she was the one to give it to herself.