Blake Snyder was a Hollywood screenwriter with only two IMDb writing credits to his name, Blank Check and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! The former of these movies is now recognized as a semi-cult classic among 90s kids, atypical, BuzzFeed-esque nostalgia stuff. “Oh man, remember Blank Check! Where the kid bought the house and the water slide and everything?!” “Yeah, and Mr. Macintosh and the limo driver, that was a classic!”
Snyder, though, is now much more known for his book “Save the Cat,” a wildly popular introductory guide into screenwriting that tackles basic story structure in easy-to-understand terms. He uses Blank Check as a common example throughout his book, and you can see why: the movie is very much a template of a story rather than a story itself, where a Macintosh computer could automatically program basic plot points and dialogue. “Save the Cat” is a classic. Blank Check is not.
I really wanted to enjoy this movie, watching it now as a late 20-something with fond memories of my 90s youth. But it’s just so terrible that not even the most powerful nostalgia can save it. If you were to cut the scenes where Preston, the child at the center of the movie, goes on his spending spree into a 3 minute music video, it would be much more enjoyable than sitting through this. This movie slogs and meanders, and feels immensely outdated. It’s one of those movies where you feel pressured to like it because so many of your millennial peers have fond memories of it. Hell, even when I was talking with a coworker about how Blank Check was on Netflix, we both expressed our excitement and how we would watch it that night. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what my coworker thought, but I doubt he still had high praise for the movie like he did decades ago.
Blank Check serves as a good case study for the how-to’s of basic screenwriting structure. Read “Save the Cat,” then watch this movie, and then go to work on whatever dream movie or screenplay you’ve had in the back of your mind for all these years. But don’t expect to have fun in the process.