I don’t see what’s so heinous about the L.A. Times launching a column — “Scriptland” by Jay Fernandez — about script reviews.
Various online columnists (Stax, Drew McWeeny, myself) have done the same thing for many years, and the Times is just looking to jump on the same boxcar. It’s mildly flattering in this sense. I think that Variety was the last major print publication to take a stab at script-reviewing — editor Peter Bart riffed about two or three back in the mid ’90s, if memory serves.
My only rule is not to review a script that disappoints or otherwise doesn’t seem that exceptional.
I’ll never stop wanting to read (or read about) the hot new scripts, but I’ve begun to appreciate more fully over the last couple of years how reading them can lead, almost more often than not, to disappointment with the finished films. The unavoidable tendency, of course, is to cast and direct the film as you’re reading the script, and a lot of times the movies I’ve “directed” have seemed, in restrospect, better than the actual ones. (This syndrome had a something to do with my initial reaction to Wes Anderson‘s The Royal Tenenbaums.)
The other side of the coin, sometimes, is a script seeming moderately okay or pretty good, and then the movie turjing out much better. This, for me, was the case with the script of Anderson and Owen Wilson‘s Rushmore — enjoyable as the script was, the movie was twice as good. There are also instances in which scripts read fairly well with a need for some polishing, as was the case with Cameron Crowe ‘s Elizabethtown…and then the movie comes along and very little of the script’s charm has survived, much less been built upon.