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Scene 1 -  The Farewell
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 1.


FADE IN:

ON a hand taking stacks of money from under a mattress.

SUPER: GULF WAR. AHMADI, KUWAIT. 1991.

1.1 INT. MO’S HOUSE - MO’S BEDROOM - KUWAIT - 1991 - DAY 1.1 *

Reveal YUSRA NAJJAR, early 40s, focused and resolute,
grabbing as many BUNDLES OF CASH as she can carry. We FOLLOW
her as she hurries into --

1.2 INT. MO’S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - KUWAIT - 1991 - DAY 1.2 *

A room that has been turned upside down - there are piles of
clothes and half-packed suitcases all over. Yusra dumps the
cash onto the couch, adding it to an already sizable pile.
She goes back for more, passing -- *

YOUNG MO NAJJAR, seven, dribbling a soccer ball like a *
basketball as if he were driving into the paint. *

NOTE: All dialogue in the Kuwait/Iraq scenes are in Arabic.

YOUNG MO *
(like an announcer)
Olajuwon leaps for the rim --

He jumps up, pretending to slam dunk.

YOUNG MO (CONT’D) *
Yes! The crowd goes wild! AAAAAH!

Mo sees his older brother, YOUNG SAMEER NAJJAR, 11, *
obsessively pacing around the room in a zig-zag pattern, as
if one wrong step would bring disaster. Mo goes to pass him
the ball.

YOUNG MO (CONT’D) *
(like an announcer)
The Dream looks to Kenny Smith!
(off Sameer’s nonreaction)
Sameer! The Jet!

Sameer cannot be distracted from his pacing. Mo shrugs.

YOUNG MO (CONT’D) *
Tricked him! He keeps it and...

Mo THROWS the ball, hitting his sister, YOUNG NADIA NAJJAR, *
18, who’s folding and packing clothes. She turns, annoyed:
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 2.


YOUNG NADIA *
Mo! We’re all rushing and you’re
still playing stupid games!

YOUNG MO *
You’re stupid.

MUSTAFA (O.S.)
Hamoudi --

Mo’s FATHER, MUSTAFA NAJJAR, 50s, approaches from the dining
table where he’s set-up a workstation for his electronics.

MUSTAFA (CONT’D)
Habibi, your sister’s right. We
don’t have much time, you need to
focus.

YOUNG MO *
Baba, did you fix my Walkman yet?

MUSTAFA
(not now)
Go help your mother.

Mo runs off to Yusra as Mustafa resumes soldering some
Walkman components together.

A SERIES OF SHOTS:

MUSIC UP: “That’s Alright Mama” by Elvis Presley.

Yusra opens a PURSE, empties it onto the floor, and cuts the
lining with a razor. Mo hands her stacks as she begins
stashing cash into the makeshift compartment.

ON Yusra’s hands re-sewing the purse’s lining. She pulls the
last of the thread taut and Mo, scissors ready, cuts the
thread.

Yusra, at a sewing machine, finishes sewing a belt. She
secures it to Nadia’s waist and Mo fills it with money.

Mo finds a few STACKS of CASH in a box of Lion Bar chocolates *
and brings them to Yusra. Exhausted, she forces the forgotten *
stacks into a hidden lining of a suitcase. She doesn’t notice
as Mo grabs some nearby ACTION FIGURES and throws them in
with the clothes.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 3.

1.3 EXT. MO’S HOUSE - KUWAIT - 1991 - DAY 1.3

Mo, Yusra, Nadia, and Sameer stand outside with Mustafa and
their suitcases. Yusra’s wearing an oversized coat lined with
valuables; Mo in a too-small Pelé jersey.

An early 1980’s SCHOOL BUS approaches, stopping at their
house. The doors swing open and Yusra lifts her bags, guiding
Nadia and Sameer onto the bus.

But Mo hesitates... he can’t stop looking back at their home. *
Mustafa gently nudges him onward. Mo looks to his dad.

YOUNG MO *
Why can’t we go together?

MUSTAFA
The four of you will be together in
Houston, with Hakeem from the
basketball. I’ll be with you soon
inshallah.

Mustafa lovingly crouches down and caresses Mo’s face.

MUSTAFA (CONT’D) *
Habibi, Allah made you a strong and
clever boy. Now you must use those
gifts as a man. You are young, but
not a child anymore. The family
needs you. Can I depend on you?

ON Mo, his seven year old eyes absorbing the gravity of the
situation. He nods.

MUSTAFA (CONT’D)
Good. I thought so.

Mustafa smiles then hands Mo a now REPAIRED WALKMAN. Mo
smiles wide.

YOUNG MO *
Shokran, baba.

MUSTAFA
Yallah, habibi. Take care.

As Mo goes to board the bus, his smile disappears again as he *
can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever be together again.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 4.

1.4 INT. BUS - KUWAIT - 1991 1.4

Mo sits with his Mom, staring at the other FAMILIES piled in.
He’s got an empty bag of chips and a mound of orange peels on
his lap. He makes eye contact with a SAD YOUNG GIRL. He looks
away, then slips on his headphones and nuzzles into Yusra.

1.5 INT./EXT. BAGHDAD, IRAQ CHECKPOINT - 1991 - HOURS LATER 1.5 *

Mo’s woken up by a commotion outside the bus, now stopped. He
looks out the window --
Genres: ["Drama","War"]

Summary In Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1991, Yusra Najjar and her family hurriedly pack their belongings and gather stacks of cash to flee the country. Young Mo Najjar, obsessed with basketball, plays a game with his siblings before reluctantly joining his family. They board a bus and later encounter a commotion at an Iraqi checkpoint.
Strengths
  • Effective establishment of high stakes and emotional impact
  • Strong portrayal of family bonds and sacrifice
  • Engaging dialogue and character interactions
Weaknesses
  • Limited character development in this specific scene

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 9

The scene effectively establishes the high stakes and emotional impact of the situation, while also introducing the main characters and their relationships. The dialogue and actions reveal the personalities of the characters and create tension. The scene sets up the conflict and foreshadows the challenges the family will face.


Story Content

Concept: 8

The concept of a family escaping a war zone is a familiar one, but the specific setting of the Gulf War in Kuwait adds a unique historical context. The scene effectively conveys the urgency and danger of the situation.

Plot: 9

The plot of the scene revolves around the family's preparations to leave Kuwait and their departure. It establishes the main conflict and sets up the journey that the characters will undertake.

Originality: 6

The level of originality in this scene is moderate. While the setting of the Gulf War and the family's struggle to leave their home is not entirely unique, the specific details and the cultural elements add authenticity. The characters' actions and dialogue feel genuine and reflect the challenges of the war.


Character Development

Characters: 8

The characters are introduced through their actions and dialogue. Yusra is portrayed as determined and resourceful, Mo as playful and reluctant to leave, and Mustafa as loving and wise. The relationships between the characters are also established.

Character Changes: 7

While there is not a significant character change in this scene, it sets up the potential for growth and change in Mo as he faces the challenges ahead.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to come to terms with the fact that he must leave his home and family behind and take on the responsibility of being a man for his family. It reflects his deeper need for security and his fear of the unknown.

External Goal: 7

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to gather as much money as possible and prepare to leave Kuwait due to the war. It reflects the immediate circumstances and challenges they're facing.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 8

The conflict in the scene arises from the family's need to flee the war zone and the reluctance of Mo to leave his home. The tension is heightened by the time pressure and the danger they face.

Opposition: 8

The opposition in this scene is strong, as the protagonist faces challenges from both external factors (the war) and internal conflicts (his desire to stay with his family vs. his father's expectations). The audience is unsure of how the protagonist will overcome these obstacles.

High Stakes: 9

The stakes are high in the scene as the family is risking their lives to escape the war zone. The danger and uncertainty of their situation create a sense of urgency and tension.

Story Forward: 9

The scene moves the story forward by establishing the main conflict, introducing the characters, and setting up the journey they will undertake. It creates anticipation for what will happen next.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because it introduces unexpected obstacles and challenges for the protagonist, such as the father's insistence on the protagonist taking on responsibility. The audience is unsure of how the protagonist will navigate these challenges.

Philosophical Conflict: 7

There is a philosophical conflict evident in this scene between the protagonist's desire to stay with his family and his father's belief that he must take on the responsibility of being a man and protect the family. This challenges the protagonist's beliefs and values about family and sacrifice.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 9

The scene evokes a range of emotions, including fear, hope, and love. The urgency of the situation and the family's bond create a strong emotional impact.

Dialogue: 7

The dialogue in the scene is mostly playful banter between the siblings and brief exchanges between the parents and children. It effectively conveys the personalities of the characters and their emotions.

Engagement: 9

This scene is engaging because it combines intense action with emotional moments. The urgency and tension of the situation, as well as the relatable themes of family and sacrifice, keep the audience invested.

Pacing: 9

The pacing of the scene contributes to its effectiveness by creating a sense of urgency and tension. The quick cuts between different actions and the use of vivid descriptions keep the scene moving at a fast pace.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It includes clear scene headings, action lines, and dialogue formatting.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It introduces the setting, establishes the characters' goals, and builds tension and conflict.


Critique
  • The scene lacks conflict, which can make it feel stagnant and uninteresting to the audience.
  • The dialogue is straightforward and lacks depth, which can make it feel flat and unmemorable.
  • The visual elements are not utilized to their full potential, which can make the scene feel visually uninteresting.
  • The emotional tone is not fully explored, which can make it feel underdeveloped and lacking in impact.
  • The scene could benefit from more character development and exploration of the family dynamics.
Suggestions
  • Consider adding a conflict to the scene, such as a disagreement between family members or a sense of urgency to leave.
  • Explore the characters' emotions more deeply, such as Mo's uncertainty about leaving his home and Mustafa's sense of responsibility for the family.
  • Utilize the visual elements more effectively, such as showing Yusra's fear and desperation as she hides the cash.
  • Add more depth to the dialogue, such as exploring the family's history and relationships.
  • Consider adding more character development, such as exploring the siblings' relationships with each other and their parents.



Scene 2 -  Escape from Kuwait
IRAQI SOLDIERS yell at people they’ve kicked off other
vehicles, breaking open their luggage and stealing valuables.
A BURLY SOLDIER enters the bus and makes an announcement:

BURLY SOLDIER
Everyone, take your bags and get
off of the bus.

Mo tries not to look scared. Sameer and Nadia are having less
success - Sameer moans nervously and Nadia trembles, her
fingers feeling the money hidden in her belt. Yusra grips
them, trying to calm them down.

YUSRA
(to Nadia)
Go before you blow our cover.
(to Mo)
Watch Sameer.

Yusra hands them their bags and ushers them off. We stay with
her as she kneels down, out of sight, listening to the CHAOS
outside.

She grabs her suitcase and makes a mess of it, undoing all
her work. She grabs another bag and does the same thing.
Finally, she scatters orange peels and empty wrappers on top.

ON Mo, outside, stealing glances at what Yusra’s doing. He
has enough sense to know not to stare. The passengers around
him watch helplessly as their possessions are ransacked and
valuables stolen. Yusra signals him with a go-ahead, and as
the other passengers get herded back onto the bus, the Najjar
children join them.

The burly soldier accompanies the last of the passengers back
onto the bus. As Mo, Sameer, and Nadia sit back down with
Yusra, the soldier’s eyes land on her:

BURLY SOLDIER
I never saw you get off the bus.
You playing me for a fool?
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 5.


Mo sees other passengers look on anxiously as Yusra clutches
Sameer, quietly starting to recite Quranic Surat Ya-seen.

BURLY SOLDIER (CONT’D)
What are you deaf, bitch? Think you
can hide from me?

ON Mo, seeing his family in need. Suddenly, he starts fake
CRYING.

YOUNG MO *
Please, sir! Don’t take my Ninja
Turtles! She didn’t know they were
there!

The soldier looks at him, confused. Mo sells it hard, his
tears becoming sobs. He seems genuinely terrified.

YOUNG MO (CONT’D) *
I just wanted to have my toys. It’s
not her fault. She didn’t know!

He holds a weathered TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES toy out to
the soldier.

YOUNG MO (CONT’D) *
Take Michelangelo, everyone knows
he’s the best! Please --

SUPERIOR OFFICER (O.S.)
What is this filth?

The SUPERIOR OFFICER steps on the bus, his uniform crisp and
covered with honors. He eyes the Burly Soldier.

SUPERIOR OFFICER (CONT’D)
You think you’re a big man? Making
women and children cry?

Mo stifles his cries as the Officer gives his subordinate a
hard stare. The Officer eyes Yusra’s luggage -- the wrappers,
the orange peels, and Mo’s Ninja Turtles peeking out. *

SUPERIOR OFFICER (CONT’D)
These bags have clearly been
searched. You want to take the
boy’s candy and toys too?

He signals to a couple of his other MEN and has the Soldier
removed from the bus. The Officer takes one of the figures
from Yusra’s suitcase and hands it to Mo, patting him on the
face. He looks over to Yusra:
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 6.


SUPERIOR OFFICER (CONT’D) *
God be with you all. *

Once in the clear, Yusra turns to Mo, proud and impressed.
You can hear the relief in their hushed voices:

YUSRA
When did you learn to turn on tears
like that?

YOUNG MO *
When you wouldn’t buy me a Walkman.

He holds up his Walkman, smiling. Yusra shakes her head,
amused. The bus begins to pull away and Mo puts on his
headphones. Hits play.

PRELAP: “25 Lighters on My Dresser” by Fat Pat --

CUT TO:

MAIN TITLE

1.6 INT./EXT. - MO’S CAR - HEADED TOWARD ALIEF - DAY 1.6

“25 Lighters” continues over a MONTAGE:

MO NAJJAR, now in his mid-30s, cruises in his beat up ‘70 *
FORD TURINO COUPE, old-school windows rolled down due to the *
broken AC, the MICHELANGELO TOY he had in Kuwait on the
dashboard.

We take in the sights of Houston -- e.g., the “Be Someone”
bridge over I-10; the Houston Graffiti Building; the “Twin
Syringes” building...

Mo rolls into Alief and lights up a joint as he passes the
water tower; Crump Stadium; Pencil Middle School...

He throws on a “Houston Mobile Spot” shirt as he turns onto
Bellaire Blvd with its Mexican meat markets, 99 cent stores,
Black women's hair product stores...

Finally, he pulls into a strip mall parking lot and kills the
engine, the MUSIC CUTS OFF.

Psst, psst -- Mo sprays himself with a can of air freshener.

1.7 INT. HOUSTON MOBILE SPOT - DAY 1.7

Mo moves back and forth between desks, multi-tasking as he
puts a new screen on a TEXAS WOMAN’S phone. *
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 7.


TEXAS WOMAN
How are you doing it so fast?

MO
These new LCD screens are easy,
just a couple of screws and an
attachment. Now if you brought me a
Nokia 1202, that’s a whole
different situation, can’t find
those parts.

One of Mo’s inept coworkers, JOSÉ, late 20s, shouts:

JOSÉ
Yo, Mo! I need those iPhone cases.
(in Spanish)
Aye, asshole -- this gringa been
waiting.

Mo doesn’t look up as he puts the finishing touches on the
woman’s phone. Shouting to José:
Genres: ["War","Drama"]

Summary In the midst of the Gulf War, Yusra Najjar and her family pack their belongings and gather cash to flee Kuwait. They board a bus but encounter a commotion at an Iraqi checkpoint. Yusra strategically creates a distraction by having her son, Mo, fake cry over his Ninja Turtles toys. The superior officer intervenes, reprimands the burly soldier, and allows the family to continue their journey. Yusra is impressed by Mo's acting skills.
Strengths "Tense atmosphere, well-developed characters, effective use of suspense and relief"
Weaknesses "Limited dialogue, some predictable elements"

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 9

The scene effectively builds tension and creates emotional impact through the threat of danger and the relief of a successful diversion. The characters are well-developed and their actions drive the plot forward.


Story Content

Concept: 8

The concept of using a child's fake crying as a distraction in a war setting is unique and adds an element of suspense to the scene.

Plot: 9

The plot is engaging and keeps the audience invested in the characters' escape from Kuwait. The scene contributes to the overall narrative by showcasing the family's resourcefulness and determination.

Originality: 6

The level of originality in this scene is moderate. While the situation of civilians being searched by soldiers is not unique, the specific actions and reactions of the characters, such as the protagonist's fake crying and the superior officer intervening, add freshness to the scene. The authenticity of the characters' actions and dialogue adds to the originality.


Character Development

Characters: 9

The characters are well-developed and their actions are consistent with their personalities. Yusra is portrayed as a strong and protective mother, while Mo demonstrates his resourcefulness and ability to think on his feet.

Character Changes: 7

Mo's character undergoes a subtle change as he learns to use his acting skills to protect his family. He becomes more resourceful and confident.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to protect his family and maintain their cover as they are being searched by the soldiers. This reflects his deeper need to keep his loved ones safe and his fear of being discovered.

External Goal: 7

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to avoid being caught by the soldiers and prevent them from discovering their hidden belongings. This reflects the immediate circumstances and challenges they are facing.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 9

The conflict between the Iraqi soldiers and the family creates a high-stakes situation. The threat of danger and the uncertainty of the outcome increase the tension in the scene.

Opposition: 8

The opposition in this scene is strong, as the soldiers pose a significant obstacle to the protagonist's goal of protecting his family. The audience is unsure of how the soldiers will react and whether the protagonist will be successful in his deception.

High Stakes: 9

The stakes are high as the family faces the threat of being caught by the Iraqi soldiers. The outcome of the scene has significant consequences for their safety.

Story Forward: 8

The scene moves the story forward by showing the family's progress in their escape from Kuwait. It also establishes the resourcefulness of the characters, which becomes important later in the narrative.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because the audience does not know how the soldiers will react to the protagonist's fake crying or how the superior officer will intervene. The outcome is uncertain and keeps the audience engaged.

Philosophical Conflict: 7

There is a philosophical conflict evident in this scene between the oppressive soldiers and the protagonist's belief in protecting his family and maintaining their dignity. The soldiers represent a corrupt system that the protagonist must navigate and resist.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 8

The scene evokes fear, relief, pride, and amusement in the audience. The emotional impact is heightened by the characters' vulnerability and the danger they face.

Dialogue: 7

The dialogue effectively conveys the characters' emotions and motivations. The interaction between Yusra and Mo showcases their bond and highlights their quick thinking.

Engagement: 9

This scene is engaging because it creates a sense of tension and suspense through the chaotic actions of the soldiers and the protagonist's efforts to protect his family. The audience is invested in the outcome and wants to see how the characters will navigate the situation.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of the scene contributes to its effectiveness by creating a sense of urgency and tension. The actions and dialogue are paced in a way that keeps the audience engaged and invested in the outcome.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It uses proper scene headings, action lines, and dialogue formatting.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It establishes the setting, introduces the conflict, and resolves it with the intervention of the superior officer.


Critique
  • The scene lacks a clear and concise objective for the characters. While there is tension and fear in the beginning as the Iraqi soldiers steal from passengers, it is not clear what Yusra's plan is when she instructs Mo, Sameer, and Nadia to get off the bus. The chaos and theft happening on the bus could be more visually and emotionally impactful if there was a clear goal or conflict for the characters to overcome.
  • The dialogue feels a bit forced and unnatural at times. For example, when Mo starts fake crying, his lines come across as overly dramatic and scripted. It would be more effective to have his words and actions feel more genuine and spontaneous, adding to the tension and fear of the situation.
  • The transition from Iraq to present-day Houston feels abrupt and disjointed. It would be helpful to have a smoother transition or a clearer indication of the time and location change.
  • The scene could benefit from more sensory details to immerse the audience in the setting and emotions of the characters. Descriptions of sounds, smells, and physical sensations can enhance the tension and bittersweetness of the scene.
  • The ending of the scene, with Mo finishing up a phone repair at the shop, feels anticlimactic and doesn't provide a strong sense of closure or resolution. It would be more satisfying to end the scene on a stronger emotional beat or with a clearer indication of what's to come for the characters.
Suggestions
  • Clarify Yusra's plan and objective when she instructs Mo, Sameer, and Nadia to get off the bus. This will add more conflict and tension to the scene.
  • Rewrite Mo's dialogue when he starts fake crying to make it feel more genuine and spontaneous. This will heighten the tension and fear of the situation.
  • Smooth out the transition from Iraq to present-day Houston by providing a clearer indication of the time and location change.
  • Add more sensory details to immerse the audience in the setting and emotions of the characters. This will enhance the tension and bittersweetness of the scene.
  • Consider ending the scene on a stronger emotional beat or with a clearer indication of what's to come for the characters. This will provide a more satisfying sense of closure and resolution.



Scene 3 -  Mo's Job Loss
MO
Which iPhone cases? The SE, 11 Pro,
12 Pro Max, be specific, José!

JOSÉ
The iPhone 13s!

MO (IN SPANISH)
Relax, cabrón. They’re in the back
by the Selena Samsung cases -- rest
in peace.

JOSÉ (IN SPANISH)
Rest in peace.

José does the sign of the cross and walks off. Mo’s boss,
ABOOD RAHMAN, 50s, whistles, motioning for him. Mo hands the
phone back to his customer.

MO
José will ring you up.

Mo joins Abood in the back of the shop. *

MO (CONT’D)
What’s happening?

ABOOD RAHMAN (IN ARABIC) *
I have to talk to you...
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 8.


MO
Why are you speaking Arabic? It’s
never good when you speak Arabic in
front of the customers.

Abood hesitates. *

ABOOD RAHMAN (IN ARABIC) *
ICE raided our other location this
morning. We ate a big fine, one
more will shut us down. I have to
let you go.

MO
You’re firing me?

ABOOD RAHMAN *
What am I supposed to do? You don’t
have a work permit. I’m sorry.

MO
What about José? José can’t be
legal.

ABOOD RAHMAN *
No, José’s legal.

JOSÉ (O.S.)
I married in, bro!

ABOOD RAHMAN *
See?

JOSÉ (O.S.)
You should marry Maria, she’s fine
as hell! And she’s a mechanic too,
got those oily hands!

MO
Don’t talk about my girl’s hands!
(to Abood) *
How can you fire me over that guy?
God only knows what’s in his search
history.

ABOOD RAHMAN *
Mo, please --

MO
He’s from Matamoros! You know what
that translates to? Kill Muslims.
(MORE)
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 9.
MO (CONT’D)
(in Arabic)
Don’t do this. I know this store
better than anyone. Plus I’ll have
my asylum soon.

ABOOD RAHMAN
How soon?

MO
Soon. You know. Like, (trailer
voice) coming soon. That kinda
soon. I’m in the system, okay? I’m
not undocumented. My court date’s
coming up. Once they grant me
asylum, I’ll have a work permit.

ABOOD RAHMAN *
And if they don’t, they’ll deport
you. It’s not so simple. You’ve
been waiting, what, 20 years?

MO
Twenty-two.

ABOOD RAHMAN *
Twenty-two years of courts dates.
What makes you think this next one
will be different?

MO
I’m just playing the odds. How many
times can they push a hearing?

Abood remains unconvinced. *
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 10.


ABOOD RAHMAN *
Listen, inshallah it all works out
and I take you back. Until then...

He holds out an envelope.

ABOOD RAHMAN (IN ARABIC) (CONT’D)
I wish I could do more...

Mo takes it, counts the cash. Looks up, annoyed.

MO
This is the money you owe me. You
made it sound like you were giving
me a lil extra, which would be nice
considering how much I’ve done for
you. Good luck running this place
with (shouting) JOSE! But
whatever, man. It’s not the first
time ICE has run me out of a job.
Salaams to the family.

Mo walks away, goes to dap José goodbye.

JOSÉ
Gonna miss you, hermano.

MO
You too brother.

As Mo makes his way out the door, José attempts to curse him
in Arabic along with the appropriate hand gesture.

JOSÉ
(gesturing)
Hey Mo -- Biteezee!

MO
(correcting)
It’s Bi-teezak! Like this.

1.8 INT. MARIA’S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT 1.8 *

Mo checks his phone in bed while his girlfriend, MARIA (late
20s-30s, Mexican), comes out of the bathroom after having
just finished washing for the night.

MARIA
I’m telling you, if I see Ramón’s
ass crack one more time...
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 11.


MO
Baby, I don’t wanna hear you talk
about other men’s asses.

MARIA
I don’t wanna see their asses! I’ve
tried belts, lululemons -- the
guy’s crack is relentless.

MO
Put him on oil changes, stick him
under the car.

Maria: That’s not a bad idea... She picks Mo’s Houston Mobile *
Spot shirt up and folds it, before joining him in bed.

MARIA
You gonna retire that thing? Hang
it on your wall like a jersey? *

MO
I’m gonna keep it so my mom thinks *
I still work there. *

Maria laughs -- then sees he’s not kidding.

MARIA (IN SPANISH)
Seriously? Just tell her!
Genres: ["Drama"]

Summary Mo is fired from his job at a phone shop due to his lack of work permit. He argues with his boss, Abood, about the unfairness of the situation and his hopes for asylum. Mo leaves the shop feeling frustrated and uncertain about his future.
Strengths
  • Engaging dialogue
  • Authentic multicultural representation
  • Tension and conflict
Weaknesses
  • Limited exploration of emotional impact
  • Common immigration narrative theme

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 8

The scene effectively portrays the frustration and uncertainty faced by undocumented immigrants. The dialogue is engaging and the conflict between Mo and Abood adds tension to the scene.


Story Content

Concept: 7

The concept of an undocumented immigrant facing job loss due to lack of work permit is relatable and relevant. However, it is a common theme in immigration narratives.

Plot: 8

The plot of Mo losing his job adds conflict and raises the stakes for his character. It also sets up potential obstacles for his asylum process.

Originality: 9

The scene demonstrates a level of originality through its portrayal of the protagonist's undocumented status, the use of multiple languages, and the incorporation of cultural references. The authenticity of the characters' actions and dialogue adds to the originality.


Character Development

Characters: 9

The characters of Mo and Abood are well-developed and their conflicting motivations create tension. Mo's determination and Abood's tough decision humanize their roles.

Character Changes: 7

Mo experiences a loss of job and a blow to his hopes for asylum, which may lead to a change in his determination and resilience.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to convince his boss not to fire him and to express his frustration and disappointment at being fired.

External Goal: 7

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to keep his job and avoid being fired.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 8

The conflict between Mo and Abood regarding his job loss creates tension and raises the stakes for Mo's character.

Opposition: 7

The opposition in this scene is strong as the protagonist faces the threat of losing his job and the challenges of his undocumented status.

High Stakes: 8

The high stakes in the scene are Mo's job, his hopes for asylum, and his uncertain future as an undocumented immigrant.

Story Forward: 8

The scene moves the story forward by introducing a new obstacle for Mo's character and raising the stakes for his asylum process.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because it introduces the unexpected news of the protagonist being fired and raises questions about his future.

Philosophical Conflict: 6

There is a philosophical conflict evident in this scene regarding the protagonist's belief in the fairness of the immigration system and his boss's practical concerns about running the business and avoiding legal trouble.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 7

The scene evokes empathy for Mo's situation and frustration with the unfairness of his job loss. However, it could have delved deeper into the emotional impact of his uncertain future.

Dialogue: 9

The dialogue is engaging and reveals the characters' personalities and motivations. The use of multiple languages adds authenticity and humor to the scene.

Engagement: 9

This scene is engaging because it introduces conflict and raises questions about the protagonist's future, while also incorporating humor and cultural references.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of the scene contributes to its effectiveness by balancing dialogue and action, allowing for moments of tension and humor.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre, with clear scene headings, character names, and dialogue formatting.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre, with clear dialogue and scene direction.


Critique
  • The scene lacks a clear conflict and resolution. While there is tension between Mo and Abood regarding Mo's firing, it is not fully resolved in the scene. It would be more effective to have a clear confrontation and resolution between the two characters.
  • The dialogue feels a bit disjointed and could benefit from more natural and fluid exchanges. Some lines, particularly the banter between Mo and José, feel forced and could be improved to sound more authentic.
  • The scene could benefit from more visual elements to enhance the storytelling. Currently, the visuals are limited to Mo and Abood talking in the back of the shop, which doesn't provide much visual interest. Adding more visual details and actions can help engage the audience and make the scene more dynamic.
  • The emotional tone of the scene could be further developed. While there are moments of tension and emotion, the overall emotional arc of the scene could be strengthened to create a more impactful and memorable moment.
  • The transition between present-day Houston and the phone store in Iraq is abrupt and could be smoother. Finding a more seamless way to transition between the two settings can improve the flow of the scene.
Suggestions
  • Introduce a clear conflict between Mo and Abood regarding Mo's firing and develop a resolution to create a more satisfying dramatic arc.
  • Refine the dialogue to sound more natural and authentic, particularly in the banter between Mo and José. Consider rewriting some lines to improve the flow and rhythm of the conversation.
  • Add more visual elements and actions to enhance the storytelling. Consider incorporating visual details that reflect the characters' emotions and the overall atmosphere of the scene.
  • Further develop the emotional tone of the scene by exploring the characters' inner thoughts and feelings. Show their vulnerability and the stakes involved in Mo's situation.
  • Find a smoother and more seamless way to transition between present-day Houston and the phone store in Iraq. Consider using visual cues or a narrative device to create a smoother transition.



Scene 4 -  Family Dynamics and Uncertain Future
MO *
Why worry her? I’ll figure out my *
next move and then I’ll tell her. *

Maria stares incredulously. Mo lights a joint.

MO (CONT’D)
Don’t give me that look. You don’t
know my mom. *

MARIA
Because you never let me see her.

MO
You saw her just the other day! *
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 12.


MARIA
We said hello and goodbye, like *
always. Two years now and we’ve *
never had dinner together. *

MO
You want my mom to grill you again?

MARIA
Think I can’t handle her religious
shit?
(as Yusra)
“Maria, why do you Catholics
worship three gods?”

MO
She has a point about the Trinity. *

MARIA
Here we go again. You want to put
me in a hijab.

MO
No! Hijab is not the top priority.
We can build to that later. Start
with the basic Muslim package.

Maria grabs the joint from Mo, takes a toke.

MARIA
You calling me basic?

MO
(playful)
Ain’t nothing basic about you,
girl... *

MARIA
You don’t even go to your mosque. *
Why don’t you come with me to *
church for once? You could use a *
confession... *

Mo takes a drag, blows out a cloud of smoke.

MO
You know nuns wear hijabs, right?
They got OG hijabs.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 13.

1.9 INT. NAJJAR CONDO - ENTRANCE/LIVING ROOM - DAY 1.9

Mo, wearing his Houston Mobile Spot shirt, enters the
family’s small condo. Though it’s not dirty, it’s CLUTTERED,
the space filled with mismatched furniture and random items,
with knickknacks and odd collectibles cramming the shelves.

Plus, it’s LOUD. Yusra shouts in Arabic as she FaceTimes with
her sisters, trying to talk over “The Price is Right”, which
is blasting on the TV.

On his way inside, Mo bumps into an end-table, knocking over
one of three mismatched lamps. YUSRA, now in her 60s, looks
up from her FaceTime --

YUSRA (IN ARABIC)
Watch where you’re going, Hamoudi!

MO
Mama, why do we have three lamps on
one table? You don’t even plug them *
in.

YUSRA
They’re antiques!

Mo picks up the lamp he knocked over, noticing:

MO
This was $11.99 from Target, you
left the price tag on.

YUSRA
Yes, so people will know what a
bargain I got. Come, say hello to
your aunties.

Mo takes the phone to say hello. His Aunt LAMEECE holds her *
phone low for a chin-up view, while his Aunt HALIMA holds *
hers inches from her face. Both unflattering angles.

MO
Hi, Khalto Halima. Hi, Khalto
Lameece.

LAMEECE (FACETIME)
Hamoudi! Look at you!

HALIMA (FACETIME)
Are you okay, habibi? You seem
bigger.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 14.


MO *
I’m fine, you just need to hold *
your phone a little further away -- *

HALIMA (FACETIME)
You need to take care of yourself
if you want to meet a good girl.

LAMEECE (FACETIME)
You need me to set you up, Hamoudi?
I can set you up right now --
(to off screen)
Ayisha! Come, meet my nephew! *

MO
Nope, all good, Ayisha! That’s nice *
of you Auntie, but I’m okay.

YUSRA
He’s talking to a Mexican girl. And
on top of that she’s Catholic.

LAMEECE/HALIMA
Habibi!

Mo ignores their protests.

HALIMA (FACETIME)
Hamoudi, Hadi wants a Samsung
Galaxy. How much can you get them
at work, we’ll pay you.

MO
Tell Hadi I’ll take care of it, the
phone’s on me.

HALIMA (FACETIME)
Are you sure?

MO
Of course, they love me there!

HALIMA (FACETIME)
Oh habibi, thank you!

Mo hands the phone back to Yusra and heads for his room, his
face dropping: Why did I just say that?

1.10 INT. NAJJAR CONDO - MO’S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER 1.10
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 15.


Mo enters and shuts the door. He takes a calming breath and *
closes his eyes. But the peace and quiet is short lived as he
hears his door CREAK open, followed by a PURRING.

He turns to find his older brother, SAMEER, now 39, in the
doorway, carrying a cat, in his Chick’n Cone uniform. Sameer
stares at him.

MO SAMEER
Why are you looking at me
like that? I’m working on my eye
contact.
Genres: ["Drama","Comedy"]

Summary Mo argues with his boss about his unfair dismissal and discusses his frustrations and uncertainties with his girlfriend. He returns home to a cluttered and loud condo where he interacts with his family through a video call. Mo's older brother, Sameer, enters the room and they have a brief conversation.
Strengths
  • Engaging dialogue
  • Humor
  • Realistic family dynamics
Weaknesses
  • Lack of significant character development
  • Limited conflict

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 8

The scene effectively portrays the frustration and uncertainty faced by Mo, while also providing moments of humor and familial interactions. The dialogue is engaging and reveals important aspects of the characters' personalities.


Story Content

Concept: 7

The concept of exploring cultural and religious differences within a family adds depth to the scene. The uncertainty about Mo's future also creates tension and raises questions about his character arc.

Plot: 7

The plot progresses as Mo faces the consequences of his lack of work permit and contemplates his next move. The scene also introduces the cluttered and loud environment of Mo's home, which adds to the overall atmosphere.

Originality: 8

This scene demonstrates a level of originality through its portrayal of cultural clashes and the use of humor to address serious topics. The characters' actions and dialogue feel authentic and relatable.


Character Development

Characters: 9

The characters are well-developed and their personalities shine through the dialogue. Mo's frustration and uncertainty are evident, while Maria's supportive and understanding nature is also portrayed.

Character Changes: 5

There is minimal character change in this scene. Mo's frustration and uncertainty are further emphasized, but there is no significant transformation.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to figure out his next move and how to tell his mother about it. This reflects his need for independence and his fear of worrying his mother.

External Goal: 7

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is not explicitly stated, but it can be inferred that he wants to maintain a sense of control and independence in his life, despite the challenges and expectations from his family.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 6

There is a mild conflict between Mo and his boss regarding his dismissal, but it is resolved quickly. The conflict between Mo's Mexican girlfriend and his Muslim family is also hinted at.

Opposition: 7

The opposition in this scene is not extremely strong, but it creates a sense of conflict and tension between the protagonist and his family. The audience is unsure of how the protagonist will navigate the expectations and challenges he faces.

High Stakes: 5

The stakes are relatively low in this scene. Mo's job loss and uncertain future are important to him personally, but do not have immediate life-threatening consequences.

Story Forward: 7

The scene provides insight into Mo's current situation and his relationships with his family and girlfriend. It sets up the challenges he will face in the future.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because of the unexpected twists and turns in the dialogue and the humorous responses from the characters. It keeps the audience guessing and adds to the overall entertainment value.

Philosophical Conflict: 7

There is a philosophical conflict evident in this scene between the protagonist's desire for independence and his family's expectations and cultural traditions. This challenges his beliefs and values, as he navigates the clash between his own desires and the expectations placed upon him.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 7

The scene evokes a range of emotions, including frustration, uncertainty, and humor. The interactions between Mo and his family create a sense of warmth and familiarity.

Dialogue: 8

The dialogue is engaging and reveals important information about the characters' relationships and beliefs. It also provides moments of humor and showcases the cultural and religious differences between Mo and Maria.

Engagement: 9

This scene is engaging because of the dynamic and humorous dialogue between the characters, the relatable conflicts and tensions, and the use of cultural references. It keeps the reader or viewer interested and invested in the story.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of this scene is effective in maintaining the reader or viewer's interest. It balances moments of humor and tension, and moves the story forward at a steady pace.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre, with proper use of scene headings, character names, and dialogue formatting. It is clear and easy to read.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre, with clear dialogue and scene descriptions. It effectively moves the story forward and develops the characters.


Critique
  • The scene lacks a clear objective or goal for the characters. It seems to be a casual conversation between Mo and Maria, but it doesn't drive the story forward or reveal anything significant about the characters or their relationship.
  • The dialogue feels forced and unnatural at times. The banter between Mo and Maria about religion and hijabs feels contrived and doesn't flow organically.
  • The transition from the conversation between Mo and Maria to the scene in Mo's family condo feels abrupt and disjointed. There is no clear connection between the two parts of the scene.
  • The visual description of Mo's family condo is detailed, but it doesn't serve a purpose in the scene. It doesn't contribute to the story or the characters' development.
  • The interaction between Mo and his family on FaceTime feels superficial and lacks depth. The dialogue is cliché and doesn't reveal anything new or interesting about the characters or their relationships.
  • The introduction of Sameer and the cat in Mo's bedroom feels random and out of place. It doesn't add anything meaningful to the scene or the story.
  • Overall, the scene lacks focus and purpose. It doesn't advance the plot or develop the characters in a meaningful way.
Suggestions
  • Give the scene a clear objective or goal for the characters. What do they want to achieve or reveal through their conversation?
  • Rewrite the dialogue to make it more natural and authentic. Focus on creating genuine and believable interactions between the characters.
  • Find a better transition between the conversation between Mo and Maria and the scene in Mo's family condo. Create a stronger connection between the two parts of the scene.
  • Simplify the visual description of Mo's family condo and make sure it serves a purpose in the scene. Use visual elements to enhance the story or reveal something about the characters.
  • Deepen the interaction between Mo and his family on FaceTime. Make the dialogue more meaningful and unique to each character.
  • Consider removing the introduction of Sameer and the cat in Mo's bedroom unless it serves a specific purpose in the scene or the story.
  • Refocus the scene to have a clear impact on the plot or the characters' development. Make sure every element in the scene serves a purpose and contributes to the overall story.



Scene 5 -  Mo's Frustrations and Family Dynamics
Mo nods, indulging his brother.

SAMEER (CONT’D)
I need you to get some Meow Munch
Premium for Crystal. It’s the only
brand she eats now.

MO
There’s no way a cat’s pallet is
that refined.

SAMEER
Oh no, cat pallets are very
refined. They’ve done studies.

MO
What about the package of Perfect
Portions I just got you?

SAMEER
I also need you to return that.

Sameer steps in, hands Mo a handwritten list, it has one item
on it: Meow Much Premium. Mo tries to hand it back to him.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 16.


MO *
Habibi, I have a lot on my plate --

SAMEER
It’s gotta be within the next two
hours. Crystal’s on a very strict
feeding regimen.

MO
Sameer, I’m not Amazon prime. I’m
not promising to deliver in two
hours. I’ll get it when I can,
okay?

SAMEER
If you don’t get it, I’m gonna tell
mom about your tattoo.

MO
Seriously? You’re pulling this shit
again? Come on...

Beat. Sameer yells through the door:

SAMEER MO (CONT’D)
Mama, Hamoudi mutilated his
body with a tattoo! Fine, fine! I’ll get the
stupid cat food!

Sameer, satisfied, puts his hand on Mo’s shoulder.

SAMEER (CONT’D)
Four hours. I don’t want my little
brother stressed, it’s bad for the
immune system.

1.11 INT. KAAN YA MAKAAN HOOKAH LOUNGE & CAFE - DAY 1.11

Mo walks into the café, heading toward the back. Hookah smoke
fills the lounge as people chat and share plates.

At a table in the back, two men -- ABA WEINBERG (60s, Jewish) *
and NAZEER (60s, Arab) -- play BACKGAMMON, rolling dice and
sliding checkers as they bicker.

ABA WEINBERG NAZEER
You can huff and puff until
you’re blue, but in 1947, the -- Ah, yes, 1947, the year
United Nations -- history began! --

ABA WEINBERG (CONT’D)
-- presented a plan offering both
sides their own country --
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 17.


NAZEER
Devised by the same European
colonialists who seized the land in
the first place. Pass the tahini?

Aba hands Nazeer the tahini. Mo sidles up to the table and
joins them.

MO
Hey, Arafat, Rabin, you guys done
with your podcast?

ABA WEINBERG
Let’s table the peace talks.

MO
I’ve had enough drama, I just got
fired.

NAZEER
You lost your job? What’d you do?

MO
What do you mean, what did I do?
Nothing. ICE raided Rahman’s other
store and he got scared, let me go.

NAZEER
(re: Abood)
No balls, that guy.

A WAITER, HAMEED, mid 20s, sets down more trays of hummus and
all the fixings. Hameed speaks broken English and thinks
“shit fool” -- which he pronounces “shee foo”-- means “yes.”

HAMEED
Hummus. Lemon juice. Chick pea on
side. Sexy.

ABA WEINBERG
Learn English, kid. Hummus ain’t
sexy.

MO
He means it tastes good.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 18.


HAMEED
Shee foo. Shee.

Hameed walks off. Mo takes out a small bottle of OLIVE OIL
and MIXES the hummus with the side ingredients, customizing
it to his liking. Nazeer comments as he mixes:

NAZEER
Look at this guy, so particular
with his hummus. Baladi asly.

MO
Taban. I got high standards, amoo.

ABA WEINBERG
You know they make this snack-cup
hummus now? It’s actually not bad.

MO
That’s a war crime.

NAZEER
So what are you gonna do for work?

Mo takes a beat, swallows.

MO
I wanna start selling again.
Bootlegs, counterfeits, whatever.

NAZEER
Why go back to selling that crap?

MO
Because I’m good at it. Can you
hook me up?

Nazeer doesn’t like the idea.

NAZEER
You need a job? Work for Aba in his
suit shop.

ABA WEINBERG
I’d love to have him, the kid’s a
natural salesman. But what am I, a
charity?

MO
(to Nazeer)
It’s just a side-hustle. I’m still
gonna get another job.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 19.


NAZEER MO (CONT’D)
Your father, God rest his
soul -- God rest his soul.

NAZEER (CONT’D)
Wouldn’t want to see you or Sameer
or Nadia get in trouble.

MO
But he’d want me to support the
family. I don’t want to be selling
this shit either, but what am I
supposed to do?

Nazeer’s still unconvinced.

MO (CONT’D)
If I have to go around Harwin
asking for a connect, I will. But
yallah, you know everyone in the
wholesale district. Save me the
time, hook me up.
Genres: ["Drama","Comedy"]

Summary Mo argues with his boss about his unfair dismissal and discusses his frustrations and uncertainties with his girlfriend. He returns home to a cluttered and loud condo where he interacts with his family through a video call. Mo's older brother, Sameer, enters the room and they have a brief conversation.
Strengths
  • Engaging dialogue
  • Effective portrayal of frustrations and conflicts
  • Humorous moments
Weaknesses
  • Moderate level of conflict
  • Relatively low stakes

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 8

The scene effectively portrays Mo's frustrations and conflicts, while also providing humorous moments through the dialogue.


Story Content

Concept: 7

The concept of exploring the challenges faced by an individual in balancing personal aspirations and family responsibilities is well-executed.

Plot: 7

The plot progresses as Mo faces the consequences of his job loss and contemplates his future.

Originality: 8

This scene demonstrates a level of originality through its combination of humor and serious themes. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters' actions and reactions are relatable. The mention of selling bootlegs and counterfeits adds a fresh approach to the protagonist's search for a new source of income.


Character Development

Characters: 8

The characters are well-developed and their interactions showcase their personalities and relationships.

Character Changes: 6

Mo experiences frustration and uncertainty, but there is not a significant character change in this scene.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to find a way to support his family after losing his job. This reflects his desire to take care of his loved ones and his fear of not being able to provide for them.

External Goal: 7

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to find a new source of income, specifically through selling bootlegs or counterfeits. This reflects the immediate challenge of needing to make money quickly.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 6

There is a moderate level of conflict in the scene, primarily driven by Mo's frustrations and conflicts with his boss and family.

Opposition: 7

The opposition in this scene is moderate. While the protagonist faces challenges such as job loss and the moral conflict of selling illegal goods, the audience is unsure of how he will overcome these obstacles.

High Stakes: 5

The stakes are relatively low in this scene, focusing more on personal frustrations and family dynamics.

Story Forward: 7

The scene moves the story forward by highlighting Mo's challenges and setting up potential conflicts and decisions.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because of the unexpected turn of events, such as the protagonist losing his job and his brother threatening to reveal his tattoo. These surprises add tension and intrigue to the scene.

Philosophical Conflict: 7

There is a philosophical conflict evident in this scene between the protagonist's desire to support his family and his reluctance to engage in illegal activities. This challenges his beliefs and values, as he struggles with the moral implications of his potential actions.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 6

The scene evokes a mix of frustration, uncertainty, and playfulness, but the emotional impact is not extremely high.

Dialogue: 9

The dialogue is witty, engaging, and reveals the dynamics between the characters.

Engagement: 9

This scene is engaging because of the witty and playful dialogue between the characters. The banter and humor keep the audience interested and invested in the story.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of the scene is effective in maintaining the audience's interest. The dialogue exchanges are quick and snappy, keeping the scene moving at a good pace.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. The dialogue is properly formatted with character names and dialogue tags, and the scene descriptions provide clear and concise information.

Structure: 9

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It introduces the setting, establishes the characters, and presents their goals and conflicts in a clear and engaging manner.


Critique
  • The scene starts off with a light and humorous tone as Sameer asks Mo to get cat food for Crystal. The dialogue between them is playful and establishes their sibling dynamic.
  • However, the transition to the hookah lounge feels abrupt and disjointed. There is no clear connection between the cat food conversation and Mo's discussion with Aba and Nazeer about his job loss and desire to start selling bootlegs again.
  • The dialogue between Aba and Nazeer about the United Nations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict feels forced and out of place. It doesn't contribute to the overall story or character development.
  • The conversation between Mo, Aba, and Nazeer lacks depth and emotional resonance. It feels like a surface-level discussion without any real stakes or tension.
  • The scene lacks a clear resolution or forward momentum. It ends with Mo asking Nazeer to hook him up with a connect for selling bootlegs, but there is no indication of whether Nazeer agrees or disagrees.
  • The scene could benefit from more visual elements and actions to enhance the storytelling. Currently, it relies heavily on dialogue, which can make it feel static and unengaging.
Suggestions
  • Consider reworking the transition between the cat food conversation and the hookah lounge scene to create a smoother flow and better connect the two.
  • Reevaluate the purpose of the dialogue between Aba and Nazeer and either integrate it more seamlessly into the scene or remove it altogether if it doesn't serve the story.
  • Add more depth and emotional stakes to the conversation between Mo, Aba, and Nazeer. Explore their conflicting perspectives and motivations to create a more engaging and impactful scene.
  • Provide a clear resolution or forward momentum at the end of the scene to keep the audience invested in the story. Show the outcome of Mo's request to Nazeer or hint at the potential consequences of his decision.
  • Incorporate more visual elements and actions to enhance the storytelling. Show the characters' body language, facial expressions, and physical interactions to add depth and visual interest to the scene.



Scene 6 -  Mo's Hustle
NAZEER
(capitulating)
All right, all right. I’ll make a
call. You happy now?

MO
Thank you, amoo. I appreciate it.
(needling Aba)
‘67 borders and right of return.

ABA WEINBERG
Right of return?? We’ll never reach
a deal with your fakakta terms.

NAZEER
The nakba started the whole thing!

1.12 EXT. STRIP MALL PARKING LOT - ALIEF, TX - LATE AFTERNOON 1.12

Mo leans against his trunk, scoping out possible customers as
people walk by. He spots a 20-something LATINO KID in a
hoodie approaching.

MO
Wassup my man, I --

The kid walks by, gives Mo the finger from behind. Mo shakes
it off, spots a 30-something WHITE GUY wearing New Balances.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 20.


MO (CONT’D)
Nice kicks, bro. Check out these --

As soon as Mo opens his mouth, the guy nervously power
walks/runs away.

Finally Mo spots JIM (early 50s, southern) walking toward
him, rubbing his lower back in pain. Mo zeros in on him.

MO (CONT’D)
What are you, a size 12?

JIM
(impressed)
Yes sir.

MO
Corral boots?

JIM
Sonofabitch, you’re right again. My
old trusties.

MO
They’re old, all right. Probably
not good for your back either.

JIM
Yeah, I got real bad lower back
pain.

MO
Same here. But once I switched over
to these Yeezys, my lower back pain *
disappeared. Thank you, Yeezus,
that’s what I say.
(hands one to him)
See? Designer, yet orthopedic.

JIM
Yeah, I dunno. These don’t look
like the kinda thing I’d wear.

MO
That’s cuz you haven’t tried them
on yet.

Mo reaches into his trunk like a magician and plops down a
stool for Jim.

MO (CONT’D)
C’mon have a seat, what’s it gonna
take, 30 seconds?
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 21.


Jim reluctantly takes a seat. Mo fits the Yeezys on him.

MO (CONT’D)
(a slight southern accent)
Listen, Corrals are great, but you
can’t walk a country mile in ‘em.
Back pain’s nothing to play with.
Mess up your lower lumber and you
won’t be able to pickup your
grandkids.
(finishes lacing)
Go on, give ‘em a try.

Jim takes a few steps and is pleasantly surprised: *

JIM
Wow. These are golden.

MO
And they’re made of high quality
materials too. You can hang your
hat on that. Look, let’s not burn
daylight here. Genuine aftermarket
Yeezys go anywhere from $350 to
over a $1,000 a pop. I’m offering
you these for $200 -- that’s below
retail.

Jim thinks about it. He likes the sneakers, but --

JIM
I don’t think spending that kinda
money on sneakers is gonna fly with
the wife.

MO
I smell what you’re stepping in. So
I’m gonna sweeten the pot.

Mo reaches into his trunk, takes out a hand bag.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 22.


MO (CONT’D)
For $300 -- I know, hear me out --
I’ll throw in this Chanel purse
that’s just like the real thing
that sells for a $1,000. She’ll
never know the difference.

Mo stares at Jim. Jim stares back. A beat.

CUT TO:

1.13 EXT. STRIP MALL PARKING LOT - ALIEF, TX - MOMENTS LATER 1.13 *

Mo watches as good ol’ Jim walks away in a new pair of
Yeezys, with Corral boots in one hand and a Chanel purse in
the other.

1.14 INT. THE BREAKFAST KLUB - NIGHT 1.14

Mo, Maria, and Mo’s oldest friend, NICK (30s, Black), chow
down on breakfast food at this local Houston staple.

Maria stares at the Chanel bag on her lap, marveling. She’s
inspecting the bag, trying to find a flaw.

MARIA
(in awe)
This isn’t real?

NICK
You don’t wanna be selling this
fake shit, man.

MO
It’s not “fake”. It’s a high
quality replica.

NICK
That’s the problem -- it’s too
real. Remember Fat Phillip from
Hastings? He got busted selling
those mock Louis V’s -- they hit
him with a fuckin’ felony.

MO
It’s not an actual crime! I’m
stealing from Kanye - he doesn’t
give a fuck. He’s busy making
moccasins for NASA or some shit.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 22A.


MARIA
I don’t care about Kanye, I care
about you. You can get in trouble.

MO
Oh you care about him... you voted
for him.

NICK
(incredulous)
You voted for Kanye?

MARIA
(defensive)
He’s a free-thinker! He was the
only one that wasn’t bought out by
wall street. A self-made man.

NICK
Wow. You’re the blackest person I
know. You vaccinated?

MARIA
(ignoring)
Listen, I used to dream about
voting before I became a citizen.
Then when I did... I realized all
the options suck. So yeah -- Kanye.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 23.
Genres: ["Drama","Comedy"]

Summary Mo, a resourceful and ambitious immigrant, tries to make a living by selling counterfeit designer sneakers and purses. He showcases his sales skills to potential customers, convincing them to buy his products. Mo's girlfriend, Maria, expresses concern about the legality of his business, but Mo brushes it off. The scene also touches on political discussions and cultural differences.
Strengths "Engaging dialogue, effective use of humor, and showcasing Mo's resourcefulness."
Weaknesses "Limited exploration of the immigrant experience and the potential consequences of Mo's illegal business."

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 8

The scene effectively combines drama and comedy, introduces conflict and character development, and moves the story forward.


Story Content

Concept: 7

The concept of an immigrant hustling to make a living and the clash of cultures are interesting and engaging.

Plot: 8

The plot revolves around Mo's struggle to sell his counterfeit products and his interactions with potential customers.

Originality: 6

The level of originality in this scene is moderate. While the situation of a salesman trying to convince a customer to buy a product is familiar, the use of specific brands like Yeezys and Chanel adds a fresh approach. The authenticity of the characters' actions and dialogue contributes to the originality.


Character Development

Characters: 7

The characters, especially Mo and Maria, have distinct personalities and conflicting viewpoints.

Character Changes: 6

Mo's character shows resilience and determination in his sales pitch, but there is no significant character change in this scene.

Internal Goal: 8

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to make a sale and convince Jim to buy the Yeezys. This reflects Mo's desire to be successful in his business and make money.

External Goal: 9

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to sell the Yeezys and the Chanel purse to Jim. This reflects the immediate circumstance of Mo's job as a salesman and his need to make a profit.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 7

There is conflict between Mo and Maria regarding the legality of his business, as well as cultural clashes and disagreements.

Opposition: 7

The opposition in this scene is moderate. Jim's hesitation to buy the Yeezys and the Chanel purse creates a small obstacle for Mo, but it is not a significant challenge that the audience is unsure of how it will go.

High Stakes: 6

The stakes are relatively low in this scene, focusing more on character development and humor.

Story Forward: 8

The scene moves the story forward by showing Mo's entrepreneurial efforts and his relationship dynamics.

Unpredictability: 6

This scene is somewhat unpredictable because it is unclear whether Jim will ultimately buy the Yeezys and the Chanel purse. The audience is left wondering about the outcome of the sales pitch.

Philosophical Conflict: 0

There is no evident philosophical conflict in this scene.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 6

The scene elicits some emotional response through humor and the characters' frustrations.

Dialogue: 8

The dialogue is engaging, witty, and reveals the characters' motivations and beliefs.

Engagement: 7

This scene is engaging because it presents a conflict between Mo's sales pitch and Jim's hesitation to buy. The dialogue and interactions between the characters create tension and curiosity about whether Mo will make the sale.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of the scene is effective in maintaining the audience's interest. The dialogue and actions flow smoothly, creating a rhythm that keeps the scene engaging.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It includes scene headings, character names, dialogue, and action descriptions in a standard screenplay format.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It includes dialogue, character actions, and scene descriptions in a clear and coherent manner.


Critique
  • The scene lacks a clear objective or goal for Mo. It's not clear what he is trying to achieve by selling the Yeezys and Chanel purse.
  • The dialogue feels a bit forced and unnatural, especially in the interaction between Mo and Jim. It could benefit from more authentic and organic conversation.
  • The transition from Mo selling the products to the scene at The Breakfast Klub feels abrupt and disjointed. It could use a smoother transition or a clearer connection between the two scenes.
  • The conflict between Mo and Nick about selling replicas could be explored further to create more tension and drama.
  • The dialogue between Maria and Nick about Kanye West's political views feels out of place and doesn't contribute much to the scene.
  • The scene could benefit from more visual elements and actions to make it more engaging and dynamic.
Suggestions
  • Give Mo a clear objective or goal in the scene, such as needing to make a certain amount of money or trying to impress someone.
  • Work on making the dialogue more natural and authentic, focusing on the characters' personalities and motivations.
  • Create a smoother transition between the strip mall parking lot and The Breakfast Klub scene, perhaps by having Mo mention meeting Maria and Nick for breakfast earlier.
  • Explore the conflict between Mo and Nick about selling replicas in more depth, adding more tension and stakes to the scene.
  • Consider removing or reworking the dialogue about Kanye West's political views to make it more relevant and impactful.
  • Add more visual elements and actions to make the scene more visually engaging, such as showing Mo's sales techniques or reactions from other people in the parking lot.



Scene 7 -  Mo's Frustrations and Uncertainties
MO
And once I’m a citizen, I won’t
sell this shit. But right now this
is the only work I can get.

NICK
Stop acting goofy, man. My boy’s *
got room at Frenchy’s Chicken ‘til *
your case comes through. *

MO
I make way more money with this and *
I can’t get fired. *

Nick swallows a bite, then:

NICK
What good is that money if you get *
locked up? *
(beat) *
Maria, you know how me and this guy *
became brothers? His dad died the *
same year my pops went to jail. *

Nick lifts his left arm sleeve up to reveal a tattoo that
says “CHETACHI”.

NICK (CONT’D)
We got tats with our dads’ names.

MARIA
I didn’t know you had one like
Mo...

NICK
I guess he forgot to tell you.
He prolly also forgot that he used
to drive with me to visit my pops.
(leaning in to Mo)
He definitely forgot what the
inside of that jail was like.

MO
Chill man! I’m not goin’ to jail.

NICK
Yeah, they might send you back to
Palestine first.
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 24.


MO
Back? I’ve never been. I’m not a
citizen there, or here -- nowhere.
I don’t even have a passport. All I
got is my asylum claim and a bunch
of Gucci bags.

MARIA
(switching gears)
A bunch? You got any leather-minis?

MO
I need to take care of my family
today. They’re relying on me. I’m
gonna do what I have to ‘till I can
start my own business, buy some
land... do things the right way.

NICK
All I’m saying is you’re doing the
one thing that could kill your
whole case.
(beat)
And I’m not tryna get a Mo tattoo.

MARIA
He’s right Mo... and you’d do
terrible in jail.

MO
What are you talking about? I’d be
amazing. I’d form alliances
instantly.

MARIA
Aw, baby... no. You’re too
sensitive.

NICK
(nodding)
You’re a big dude but... you’re
actually a small dude, you feel?

Maria lifts Mo’s sleeve, looking at his MUSTAFA tattoo. ON *
Mo’s face, insulted and concerned...
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 25.

1.15 INT. SUPERMARKET - EVENING 1.15

CLOSE ON hands grabbing a large bag of MEOW MUNCH CAT FOOD
off a shelf. The brand’s logo is a cartoon cat smiling wide.

REVEAL Mo, carrying the bag on his shoulder. He passes a
white SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE at a SAMPLE TABLE.

SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE
Hi, sir. Care to try some chocolate
hummus?

Mo stops dead in his tracks. Eyes the “hummus” and pita bread
samples.

MO
What did you just say to me?
Chocolate hummus?

Mo pulls out his small bottle of olive oil and pours some out
to dip the pita in. Explaining matter-of-factly as he eats:

MO (CONT’D)
See, this is the problem. First the
West goes to war with Arabs, then
it steals from them.

SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE
Sir, what are you doing? --

MO
It’s not enough to bomb us, you
gotta debase our culture too?

SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE
Sir, the pita is for the hummus --

MO
This isn’t hummus, okay? Hummus
doesn’t come in candy flavors.
(MORE)
GOLDENROD DRAFT - 12/10/21 26.
MO (CONT’D)
This is dip in brown face, that’s
what this is.
(looks down at his collar)
Is that an oil stain?

Mo’s inspecting the stain when suddenly -- POP POP POP --

BLOOD SPLATTERS on his shirt. WTF?? The employee SCREAMS in
horror.

Mo looks at the bag of Meow Munch. The cartoon cat’s covered
in blood as food pellets pour from a hole in its eye.

The screen goes BLACK.

END OF EPISODE
Genres: ["Drama","Crime"]

Summary Mo argues with his boss about his unfair dismissal and discusses his frustrations and uncertainties with his girlfriend. He returns home to a cluttered and loud condo where he interacts with his family through a video call. Mo's older brother, Sameer, enters the room and they have a brief conversation. Mo showcases his sales skills to potential customers, convincing them to buy his counterfeit products. The scene also touches on political discussions and cultural differences.
Strengths
  • Engaging dialogue
  • Exploration of immigrant experience
  • Effective portrayal of frustrations and uncertainties
Weaknesses
  • Some repetitive dialogue

Ratings
Overall

Overall: 8

The scene effectively portrays Mo's frustrations and uncertainties, highlighting the challenges he faces as an immigrant. The dialogue and interactions between characters are engaging and provide insight into their motivations and conflicts.


Story Content

Concept: 7

The concept of an immigrant trying to make a living through selling counterfeit products is interesting and provides opportunities for exploring themes of identity, legality, and cultural clashes.

Plot: 7

The plot progresses as Mo faces the consequences of his unfair dismissal and navigates the challenges of his current situation. The conflict between pursuing financial stability and legal risks adds tension to the scene.

Originality: 5

The level of originality in this scene is moderate. While there are no unique situations or fresh approaches to familiar ones, the authenticity of the characters' actions and dialogue adds a sense of realism.


Character Development

Characters: 8

The characters are well-developed and their motivations and conflicts are clearly portrayed. Mo's determination and defiance, Maria's concern, and Nick's warning provide depth to the scene.

Character Changes: 7

Mo experiences a range of emotions and confronts the challenges he faces. While there may not be significant character changes in this particular scene, it sets up potential character growth and development in the future.

Internal Goal: 7

The protagonist's internal goal in this scene is to make money and provide for his family. This reflects his deeper need for financial stability and his desire to take care of his loved ones.

External Goal: 6

The protagonist's external goal in this scene is to continue working in his current job to earn money. This reflects the immediate circumstances and challenges he's facing, such as the need for employment and financial stability.


Scene Elements

Conflict Level: 8

The conflict between Mo and his boss, as well as the conflict between pursuing financial stability and legal risks, adds tension and drives the scene forward.

Opposition: 7

The opposition in this scene is moderate. While there is a disagreement between the characters regarding the protagonist's choices, it is not a major obstacle that significantly challenges the protagonist's goals.

High Stakes: 7

The stakes are relatively high as Mo risks his legal status and potential imprisonment by engaging in the sale of counterfeit products. The scene also hints at the potential consequences for his family.

Story Forward: 8

The scene moves the story forward by showing the consequences of Mo's unfair dismissal and his determination to provide for his family. It also introduces potential conflicts and challenges for future development.

Unpredictability: 7

This scene is unpredictable because of the sudden blood splatters and the unexpected turn of events. The audience doesn't know how the situation will unfold.

Philosophical Conflict: 0

There is no evident philosophical conflict in this scene.


Audience Engagement

Emotional Impact: 7

The scene evokes emotions of frustration, uncertainty, concern, and insult. The audience can empathize with Mo's struggles and feel the tension in his situation.

Dialogue: 9

The dialogue is engaging and reveals the characters' emotions, motivations, and conflicts. It effectively conveys the frustrations, uncertainties, and cultural clashes present in the scene.

Engagement: 8

This scene is engaging because it presents a conflict between the characters and introduces a sense of mystery with the sudden blood splatters. The dialogue and interactions between the characters also hold the audience's attention.

Pacing: 8

The pacing of the scene contributes to its effectiveness by balancing dialogue and action. It keeps the scene moving forward and maintains the audience's interest.


Technical Aspect

Formatting: 9

The formatting of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It uses proper scene headings, character names, and dialogue formatting.

Structure: 8

The structure of this scene follows the expected format for its genre. It includes dialogue, character actions, and scene descriptions in a clear and coherent manner.


Critique
  • The dialogue in this scene is effective in conveying the conflict between Mo and Nick regarding Mo's decision to continue selling bootlegs despite the potential consequences. It also reveals the close bond between Mo and Nick, as they share a tattoo in honor of their fathers. However, some of the dialogue feels a bit on-the-nose and could benefit from more subtlety.
  • The introduction of the supermarket employee and the discussion about chocolate hummus adds an interesting layer to the scene, highlighting Mo's frustration with cultural appropriation. However, the transition from the conversation with Nick to the confrontation with the employee feels a bit abrupt and could be smoother.
  • The sudden blood splatter on Mo's shirt and the cat food bag is a shocking and unexpected twist, which adds tension and intrigue to the scene. However, the scene ends abruptly with a black screen, leaving the audience wanting more information and resolution.
  • Overall, the scene effectively explores the conflicts and dilemmas faced by Mo, but there are opportunities to enhance the dialogue and pacing for a more impactful and satisfying scene.
Suggestions
  • Consider adding more nuance and subtlety to the dialogue between Mo and Nick, allowing the conflicts and emotions to be conveyed through subtext rather than explicit statements.
  • Smooth out the transition from the conversation with Nick to the confrontation with the supermarket employee, ensuring a seamless flow between the two moments.
  • Provide some resolution or further development after the blood splatter, either by extending the scene or adding a brief aftermath to address the audience's curiosity and provide closure.
  • Continue exploring the conflicts and dilemmas faced by Mo, delving deeper into his motivations and the consequences of his actions to create a more layered and compelling scene.