Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why "Validation" Works

In a scriptwriting class I audited, we watched this short film, a delightful comedy that everyone seemed to love.

The question is, why? Really, there are a lot of clich├ęs that we should have been booing halfway through the film. But we didn’t. Watch it for yourself if you haven’t already. Then, here are the reasons I think “Validation” shouldn’t work, and why it does anyway.

Super Cheerful Protagonist: If the movie had ended halfway through, I probably would have punched our enthusiastic parking attendant in the face. Because while his compliments might have been nice, they didn’t feel sincere at all. I was almost grateful when someone finally rejected him, because a little suffering made him seem more like a real person. The change that he goes through during the film makes him into a better, more relatable character by the end, and it was that change that justified his too-happy persona at the beginning of the film.

Puns: Generally, people hate puns. The very title of this film is a pun for the main plot device. Which is probably why it works—it’s the premise, one that we are told to buy into from the very beginning. Characters who make dumb puns as punchlines usually aren’t compelling. A pun as a concept that supports other humorous elements? That can work.

You Know How This Is Going To End: Was there ever any chance he wouldn’t get the girl? Of course not. But we all wanted him to, so it was okay that the plot wasn’t super complex with a dramatic twist ending.

General Corniness: Yes, there are so many things about this short film that are completely corny. But you can tell from the set-up that the writer knew it was corny…and did it anyway. The song-and-dance number, the melodramatic lovestruck-ness of the protagonist (with accompanying facial expressions), the clips of celebrities, and the ridiculously stoic love interest are all telling the audience “We are not taking this seriously. And neither should you. Just enjoy it.”

We like change, character growth, fulfilled dreams, and happily-ever-after-endings. “Validation” does all of those things, and it does them well. So despite not wanting to like this short film at first…I loved it.

And I smiled at the end. So sue me.

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