I submitted this originally to the New Yorker but they never responded so what the hell? I'll run it here. No spoiler alert necessary because there's nothing in here that's not already in the trailer. And hopefully by now, most of you will have seen the movie anyway.
Memo to Christopher Nolan:
From: Wendee Geldorfman-O’Day
Studio creative junior executive
Re: Rough cut of INCEPTION
First let me say you have made an amazing film, maybe the most amazing film this studio has produced since SEX AND THE CITY 2. We’re all very proud of it and glad we could be there to help guide you in its development.
Having seen the rough cut I have a few thoughts and questions I’d like to share with you.
There was no music and the color didn’t match. That’s because it’s a rough cut, right? If not, you may have overlooked these elements.
Good news: Our research has shown that people in your target audience do in fact dream. So heave a big sigh of relief.
Less good news (but not bad news): I must admit I found some of your film confusing. And it wasn’t just me. My intern, Chloe-Caitlin was also befuddled in parts. And Chloe-Caitlin just finished tops in her class at the Texas A & M film school so you know she’s sharp as a whip. In maybe a sentence or two, could you tell me just what is going on? Sometimes a filmmaker can get too close to his masterpiece and virgin eyes can be most helpful. The one thing that is virgin about Chloe-Caitlin is her eyes.
What threw us the most was this dream within a dream device. We believe you would have a much stronger movie if you didn’t cut from one to the other. In other words, do all of dream one first, then dream two second, and dream three third. This would help us track the story and honestly, there were times I’d be watching something, it would get real exciting, and then whoosh! You take me somewhere else. And now I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened. Is this really the reaction you want?
When you think about it, the running time is a wee bit long. Do you really need all three dreams? I mean, we get it after two. Just think about it. That’s all I ask. And maybe prepare an alternate cut just for fun.
Point of clarification: In the sequence where they’re flying weightless in the hotel hallway – that’s one of the dreams, right?
I worry that some of the dreams don’t look realistic enough. For example: Leo DiCaprio is in my dreams a lot. But he’s always naked. Any chance we could reshoot a few scenes to incorporate that? Chloe-Caitlin agrees.
Now if you want to go more surrealistic, I think you could lift that whole winter action sequence dream (sorry, but it’s very FOR YOUR EYES ONLY) and replace it with something more groundbreaking. Are you familiar with the Aha video? A girl goes into a comic book. I’m sure our animation department can spare a few weeks. It’s not like they’re making Bugs Bunny cartoons anymore. And I would even use that Aha song.
Marketing idea: That portable machine that allows people to enter other peoples’ dreams -- could we have a few of those at some of the major cineplexes? I think it would be fun for the moviegoers to experience just what it’s like to enter their friends’ dreams.
Question: Was that the girl from JUNO? She looks familiar. Chloe-Caitlin can’t place her.
When Juno, or whoever she is (she’s not the daughter from MODERN FAMILY is she?) agrees to be on Leo’s team it is never specified how much he is going to pay her. I think we need to know this to enjoy her role in the film.
And finally, the title. I worry that INCEPTION is too ambiguous. Chloe-Caitlin had to look up the word. And again, this is a girl who got into Texas A & M. When you think of “inception” – unless you’re a Roads Scholar – you think of what? Birth control. I fear we’ll lose the Catholics. And the south.
So what about this instead? WHO’S THAT IN MY HEAD? There’s something very elegant about WHO’S THAT IN MY HEAD? And it tells you exactly what the movie is about. It’s like HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. Had they gone by its original title -- MINIMIZATION, I don’t think it would have been the home run that it was. At best it would have been an infield single or even fielder’s choice depending on the official scorer.
I’m taking the liberty of having our art department draw up some one sheets of WHO’S THAT IN MY HEAD? I know it’s a radical change but don’t say no until you’ve seen the T-shirts.
Bad news: I have no more suggestions. Ha ha ha. Again, all of us here, not just interns, are very excited about your film. The word genius is overused so I won’t use it. But I look forward to the revised cut incorporating all these minor changes and believe from the depths of my bones that you don’t only have a remarkable film on your hands, you have a franchise! Summer 2011 – WHO ELSE IS IN MY HEAD? Christmas 2012 – NOW WHO’S IN MY HEAD? And summer 2014 – FRED, IS THAT YOU IN MY HEAD? Are there three sequels? Well, one can dream.