I’m really, really excited to see the upcoming movie from Key and Peele, Keanu.
I’m excited because I recognize some obvious similarities between it and my play, Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens. I’m excited to see it because like my play, it takes the storytelling idea of “saving the cat” very literally and then goes on to have a ton of fun with that idea.
This premise was made famous in Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book, titled “Save the Cat.” This is one of my favorite books on the craft of storytelling. Though it specifically addresses the art of screenwriting, I have often applied this to my playwriting. I am sure it would apply similarly in other types of writing.
The first premise of Blake Snyder’s book is that your hero has to have the “Save the Cat” moment. That is… a moment early on in the story where the protagonist has a moment that shows they are good and virtuous. It can be as simple as helping an old lady cross the street or saving a cat from a tree. It can be more character and story related, but still simple, such as the moment when Harry Potter unleashes the snake on Dudley Dursley at the zoo as his very first heroic act in a series of seven novels and a franchise of eight feature films. This “save the cat” heroic moment is often the first “beat” of many popular stories, where we get to know the hero more and discovering their role as our heroic protagonist by seeing him or her being heroic in some simple way, before things get really complicated. It’s a key moment in a lot of popular and lasting stories.
This Westword review of the Keanu movie really spells it out, and almost literally spells out my own inspiration for my Dr. Evil play:
“Through every minute of Keanu, it’s evident we’re watching a movie made by people who love movies. They know all the clichés of action films and rom-coms, but they also circumvent them. It’s like they read Blake Snyder’s Hollywood screenwriting bible Save the Cat! — which advises you to give audiences what they want and, among other things, literally save the cat if there’s one in peril in your story — and then made an entire movie around the cat.”
Yes, I am a fan of theatre (and movies and TV and pop culture), and like to poke fun at different genres and pop culture. Yes, I do my best to give audiences what they want. Yes, I read Blake Snyder’s book and applied his principles to my playwriting. Yes, I wrote an entire play around adorable kittens in the face of despicable evil.
So… yeah… I’m really excited to see this flick! I love Key and Peele and this flick looks right up my alley!
Do I think they stole my idea? Um, no. Heck no! I highly doubt they have any awareness of my play.
Are they similar? Heck yes they are! But only in premise alone. Their story looks to be something like a comedy spoof of Hollywood action blockbusters. My story is a comical stage play more in line with traditional farce.
But taken at face value, both stories seem to come down to one basic premise…
What happens when adorable precious kittens fall into the hands of madmen?
It’s a good idea. Especially so in this internet age that is so consumed by cat memes and cat videos.
I’m pleased I’m not the only one who sees it.
And I look forward to seeing how their version of the story unfolds!