Genre: Action/Adventure
Winning Logline: When a lonely kid gets lost in a next-gen VR gaming experience, the only person who can rescue him is his mom, who’s never played a videogame in her life.
About: Today’s logline won the first ever Scriptshadow Logline Showdown. If you want to compete in the next Logline Showdown, get your title, genre, and logline into me by Thursday, February 16th at 10pm Pacific Time. I will pick my five favorite loglines from the entries. Readers of the site will then vote for their favorite and the script will get a review on the site the following Friday. All entries need to be sent to
Writer: David Laurie
Details: 99 pages

Yeah baby!

You’ve seen it in the comments.

You’ve seen it in the Showdown.

Now, you see it reviewed on the site.


13 year old Brooklyn kid, Bop Tan, a Chinese-American, is lucky that he has gaming. Because his life is pretty sucky. His mother and father are divorced. His mother is always working (as a janitor at a superstore). And he gets chased by bullies every day.

Luckily, Bop has been invited to a big launch event for Virtue-Ally, a top tier virtual reality game world that’s going to revolutionize the industry. At least according to its CEO, Oswald Merriweather.

As Bop reminds us, this is the most important day of his life. Which is why, for once, his mother, Judy, is going to move mountains to make sure she gets out of work early and can attend.

The event takes place in a blocked off street with a big black pyramid in the middle and thousands of screaming gamer fans outside. There is a big screen that allows for the crowd too see what’s happening inside the virtual game.

But when Judy gets to the event, she can’t find her son. So she stumbles into the pyramid (I’m not sure how she was able to get in while the thousands of screaming fans were not) and, after some smoky theatrics, she finds herself plummeting onto a World War 2 battlefield, where she meets three English soldiers, Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Judy just wants to find her son. But Tom, Dick, and Harry say they’ve got more important matters to take care of – namely eliminating a gun nest at the top of a hill. Judy tries to tell the soldiers that they’re in a video game but they don’t seem to know what a video game is.

After several dust-ups with the enemy, Judy and Harry get transported to a different game, this one a three-dimensional side-scroller that’s a virtual take on “Don’t Fall In The Lava.” At this point, an injured Harry starts to understand that he’s not in Normandy anymore. But he still doesn’t really know what’s going on.

It’s there that Judy meets Duck, a cute little toy bunny, who’s seen Bop. They travel up and up higher through the levels until they make it to the next porthole, which brings them into Crime City, a sort of Grand Theft Auto meets Fortnite game. There they have to deal with a psychotic guns-obsessed female villain named Amy.

After somehow surviving her, Judy finally finds Bop and they go home. Or do they? They realize that the last level is actually a virtual mirror of the real world, and Judy will have to take down the people in her life she hates the most, her ex-husband and her boss. Thank God she has her son’s game expertise to help her do it.

First of all, I want to congratulate David on winning the first ever Scriptshadow Logline Showdown.

I also want to scream at him because, after reading this, I now want to buy a game system.

As for the script, I thought some of the set pieces were fun. But I had a tough time getting into this story. Full disclosure, I’m short on time so, if I didn’t understand something, I just kept reading. I didn’t go back and try and figure it out.

For anyone crying foul about that, I have bad news for you. This is how everyone in Hollywood reads scripts. If they’re not clear on something the first time through, they don’t go back and re-read.

But, in fairness to David, if anything was unclear to me, he may be able to point out that it was, indeed, explained at some point.

My main issue with the script was the first act. It’s hard to follow. Bop is going to this video game event but it’s mostly shrouded in mystery. We don’t really understand it. We just know it’s important on some level to him.

We then have Judy, who, I believed, was coming to this event to see her son perform in the game. However, when she gets there, she sort of stumbles inside the pyramid structure that’s the center of the event, looking for Bop.

Once inside, the place fills up with smoke, and she’s sent into the virtual reality game without explanation. Once she lands in World War 2, only then do we start to put two and two together and realize that the creator of this virtual reality purposefully trapped Bop in the game so that Judy would have to find him.

It’s kind of hard to understand because I don’t know how Oswald knew Judy would come and why he concocted this plan by which he makes a mom find her son. It seems very random. I mean, he’s the head of a trillion dollar company. Isn’t he more worried about selling millions of systems?

This felt like it needed a clearly defined “lost child” scenario. Bop goes and beta tests this video game for Virtu-Ally. To Oswald’s shock, Bop gets lost in the game and they can’t find him. They look but he’s nowhere to be found. Finally, they have no choice but to inform Judy. And maybe Oswald thinks that the only person who’s going to be able to find him is the mom. So he asks her to go in.

It’s much simpler.

The vagueness through which this journey begins basically kills the script before it gets started. Cause if the “how” of the journey is confusing, the audience is going to decide then and there that they’re not going to go on the journey with you.

Once on the journey, we run into more clarity problems. In fairness, this might be because I was not re-reading anything, as I discussed. But the second we land inside World War 2, we’re told that we have to get up to the top of some hill and take out a gun or something. I didn’t really understand what we were doing.

I’m not even sure I knew that Janet knew that the reason she was placed in this game was to find her son. She stumbles into that pyramid and then, bam, she’s in World War 2 for some reason. Nobody sits her down and clearly explains what’s going on, making the narrative confusing to the viewer.

While this is happening, we’re cutting back to Oswald and his two main programmers, and Oswald seems very determined to give Judy the best game experience possible. Which further confused me. Is this movie about a man trying to show our heroine how to enjoy video games? Or is it about a mom trying to rescue her son in a video game? If I were quizzed on this question, I would probably get it wrong.

And then we have Bop himself. Is he in danger? Can he potentially die? I never got the feeling he could. And if the stakes aren’t that Bop could die, I don’t think there’s a movie here. If Bop isn’t truly in danger, then why does Janet need to go looking for him? Go home, wait for Bop to get bored in the game, he’ll come home and you guys can order pizza.

99% of the time, when there’s a problem with a script, it’s in the setup. Something in the setup destroys the reader’s suspension of disbelief. And that’s what I would say happened here. The lack of clarity of what was going on and why Judy needed to enter this game took me out of the script. It had me asking questions left and right.

My biggest note to David, then, would be to have a “HERE’S THE PROBLEM AND HERE’S WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO” scene at the end of the first act. Think about when the CIA comes to Indiana Jones and tells him about the Ark. We need THAT kind of scene here.

Oswald comes to Judy. He explains that her son is lost in his new game (the PROBLEM). He’s sent people after him but they can’t find him. So, he believes, the only person who can find him is his mom. Which is why he’s come to her. He wants her to go in the game and retrieve her son (“Here’s what you need to do.”).

I also think there needs to be a bigger mom-son conflict here. Similar to the mother’s conflict with her daughter in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Cause, basically, this should be a “runaway” narrative. The son is sick of his mother. So he runs away. The difference is, he runs away in the virtual world instead of in the real world.

That way, this isn’t just about physically finding her son. It’s about fixing years and years of a broken relationship. It’s about truly finding her son, as a person. There’s a little bit of that here, but the whole thing about “Mommy won’t play video games with me” isn’t enough.

One of the ways to look at screenwriting is it’s not just that one day you learn how to wrote a great script. It’s a process. The first stage of that process is learning how to write a first act. Which is challenging because you have to set up your plot, set up your characters, you have to do so in an entertaining way, and then you have to do so with clarity.

Once you learn how to write first acts, you have to learn how to write a second act. That’s its own challenge. You have to learn to escalate the story and keep throwing new and interesting obstacles at your hero, as well as explore the central character’s arc.

Once you figure that out, you have to learn how to write a third act. The hardest thing with the third act is that your story charges towards this obvious inevitable conclusion. Yet you must find a way to still make that compelling. We all know that Liam Neeson is going to find his daughter. But how do we still make that exciting?

At least based on this script, I think David still needs to learn how to nail the first act. It’s just not there. Basic things like clarity are not on point. Hopefully, I’ve given him some ideas on how to improve that. And I’m sure everyone here in the comments will offer equally helpful advice.

Congrats again to David for winning. You can read the screenplay here!

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: “Passers-by flicker HORROR at his face.” Be careful about trying to be too clever with your writing. It feels good in the moment. But the only thing that matters in the end is clarity. If we don’t understand what you mean, we’re distanced from your story. “Passers-by flicker HORROR at his face.” What does that mean? I don’t know. If you ever run up against a potentially complicated description, write out the line like you’re writing it for a second grader and then, if you need to, make minor adjustments from there. “As he walks down the street, people stare back at him, horrified looks on their faces.” We understand that sentence, right? So why change it? Why make things harder on ourselves?