Can't Buy Me Love

Dan McNeil

Book Cover

GENRE

CRIME DRAMA SUSPENSE / THRILLER

    Core Theme

    REVENGE

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE DROP, THE IRISHMAN

    CHARACTER LIST

    SONNY CARTER (M/50S) -- AGING, MASCULINE, BITTER, CHARISMATIC, COMPLEX.

    SARAH GARRETT (F/30S-40S) -- SEDUCTIVE, DISGRUNTLED BANK EMPLOYEE WHO STRIKES UP A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SONNY AND WHO AIDS HIM IN HIS MISSION TO KNOCK OFF THE BANK AND GET REVENGE.

    EDDIE BISHOP (M/50S) -- SMARMY-AS-ALL-HELL BANK PRESIDENT WHO ONCE BETRAYED SONNY AND WHO COMES TO SUSPECT ANOTHER HEIST ATTEMPT IS BREWING.

    MORRIE COOPER (M/50S) -- SONNY'S MOST LOYAL FRIEND AND RIGHT-HAND MAN WHO WELCOMES HIM OUT OF PRISON AND WHO IS RELUCTANT TO PLAN A HEIST ONCE AGAIN.

    BERNIE MILLER (M/50S) -- ANOTHER ONE OF SONNY'S MOST LOYAL FRIENDS, ONE RELUCTANT TO EVEN HEAR OF A NEW HEIST PLAN AND WHO CARES FOR IS RAPIDLY AGING FATHER.

    CALVIN SPENCER (M/40S) -- A SLEAZY MOB-TYPE AND ALLY OF BANK PRESIDENT EDDIE BISHOP.

    Logline

    In 1964, a revenge-filled ex-con with the help of his over-the-hill gang and a sexy bank employee, decides the best time to knock over a bank is when all of New York City is tuned in to the live performance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+,18-34

    Target Gender: Universal,Other

    Setting

    New York

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Self-published

    Year Published: 2017

    Starting Description

    In 1964, an aging ex con is released from jail. The world has changed but his desire for revenge has not. He gathers up his old crew and schemes to hit the same bank he tried to knock over in 1939.

    Ending Description

    Sonny and his gang, through a series of intricate twists and plot turns, manage to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Sonny gets his revenge but finds the love he gains to be even more enriching.

    Group Specific

    Beatles fans

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    ISBN-10 : 0987735721

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity,Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending,Twist,Other

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rags to Riches,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Sonny Carter

    Age: 56

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Masculine,Narcisstic,Complex,Confident,Faithful,Leader

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Sarah Garrett

    Age: 42

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Charming,Confident,Sexy,Seductive,Criminal,Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Eddie Bishop

    Age: 55

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Masculine,Villainous,Narcisstic,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Greedy,Power Hungry,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    The adventures that Sonny and his gang get into as they scheme to knock over a New York city bank has many twists and surprise turns. There's a love story brewing, a menacing mobster plotting and a series of side stories for each of the gang members that keeps the reader on their toes.

    Genre

    THRILLER, DRAMA, SUSPENSE, MATURE AUDIENCE

    Brief

    After serving a 25 year sentence after a bank job gone wrong, an aging Sonny Carter discovers the man who betrayed him is now the president of the very bank he once tried to knock off. Unable to resist the temptation to seek revenge, Sonny recruits each of his former partners in planning to knock off the bank once again, all with the help of disgruntled bank employee, the seductive Sarah Garrett.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The profile seems pretty fair, save for the genre. This work is less an action/adventure story and more of a crime/drama/thriller type. It is low on action, for the most part, and high on personal drama and dialogue. While the dialogue is often funny, comedy is not a driver of this story, or a priority, thus it doesn't feel entirely fitting to call it a comedy either.

    Draw of Story

    The author goes all-in with the period and with the dialogue, and it gives way to a rather fast pace. Effortlessly rendered is the sense of camaraderie between the men, and their jabbing at each other affords a fitting reaction now and then. The character of Sonny stands out as particularly strong-- He is flawed, complex, and sympathetic. You feel his pain, and you hope for it to be resolved despite seemingly low odds. You root for him, but you feel afraid for him--how he might be affected by the decisions he makes. This is a welcome nuance.

    Possible Drawbacks

    One thing that stands out as an opportunity for improvement is this work's bloat. In many cases, the author seems to take twice as long as needed to get his points across. An prime example of this is Sonny's maneuver to get a free meal with Sarah. Moreover, excess time is spent on peripheral characters on occasion, and the author often goes through great lengths to iterate their backgrounds and even life stories. All in all, there is much room to cut, condense, and simplify this work. Every single word should be of utmost importance to the final product. This is not entirely the case in the current version. Secondly, the female characters come across as rather weak. Almost without fail, they are rendered either as entirely sexual beings or as stuck-up or unpleasant people. Louise is a prime example of the latter-- She is rendered as entirely unsympathetic seemingly as a default-- No real purpose for her unpleasantness, it seems. A similar criticism applies to Genevieve, who is described as having a permanent ""pinched expression of annoyance."" On the other hand, we have an encounter with a woman at a bar whose only character trait is her apparent rampant libido, and Sarah doesn't rise above this characterization, in many ways, until the twist at the end. All in all, this is very much a 1960s-style narrative, but in rendering the women in such extreme ways feels both dated and familiar.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    For better or worse, this work fully commits to its period and genre space. While it may feel familiar at times, you are getting what you pay for.

    Fanbase Potential

    Probably not-- This work seems to be geared more toward a niche audience.

    Awards Potential

    Again, probably not-- The limited target audience would seem to limit its potential in this way.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE DROP, THE SOPRANOS, THE IRISHMAN

    What’s New About the Story

    This work does subscribe quite heavily to genre tropes and character archetypes of crime movies and of the 1960s. The author seems to have a romantic view of these notions, but more could be done subvert or reinterpret the familiar aspects while still honoring the narrative tradition.

    Lead Characters

    Sonny is flawed and complex, yet we have plenty of reason to root for him anyway. His pain is tangible, and his decisions are quite risky. This makes it suspenseful to watch him operate as there is always a risk of personal catastrophe.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It would be difficult to say that this is a rare gem for the simple fact that it seems to borrow much from what has come before. It is certain to appease its narrow target audience, but more can be done to trim the fat, to deviate from the tradition, and to appeal to a wider audience all while maintaining the passion and commitment to the genre space.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    Again, there is much room to cut, condense, and simplify this work. It's committed to being an ensemble, but many scenes strike as unnecessary, and the mob presence begins to feel muddy and confusing before long. Also, the female characters, while following in the genre tradition in many ways, feel largely familiar and perhaps even offensive in their depictions. More can be done to both humanize and differentiate the female presences in this work.

    Tips for Improvement

    Cutting and simplifying some of this work's excesses, subverting and reinventing some of the genre tropes, and humanizing the female characters.

    Brief

    New York City, 1964. Fresh out of prison after 25 years, aging tough guy Sonny Carter teams with a stunning, seductive bank employee and recruits his old partners in crime to plan one last heist-- one timed to the highly anticipated American television debut of The Beatles.

    What We Liked

    CAN'T BUY ME LOVE fully embraces the essence of the 1960s and its crime drama roots. Anchored by a complex, flawed, yet highly sympathetic and entertaining protagonist, CAN'T BUY ME LOVE delivers on the promise of its genre space-- featuring fast-talking camaraderie between its heroes, a stunning femme fatale, a slew of unsavory mob figures, and no shortage of high stakes drama, and later, action. Crescendoing in a consequential blaze of glory and factoring in the presence and ascension of The Beatles, this work deftly ties its many threads together in a finale that is equally heart-wrenching and satisfying.

    The author's words exude a proper passion for the genre space and story-- He goes all-in with the 1960s world-building and with the witty, period banter and is sure to honor the traditions of crime movies past.

    Film: This work plays like a highlights reel of all of the qualities we know and love of crime dramas past. Featuring sharp-witted, often funny dialogue, a bad ass and complex leading man, a sexy femme fatale, a no shortage of twists and turns, this work has more than enough to sustain a 2-hour-plus runtime and to fill a trailer with ample candy to entice an audience. It's explosive, consequential finale will perfectly punctate the epic that is CAN'T BUY ME LOVE.

    TV: CAN'T BUY ME LOVE will be irresistible content for both fans of crime dramas and fans of The Beatles. It's a fast-paced, bad ass crime epic, centered around a complex, sympathetic lead and a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale. The author deftly layers in his stakes and sure-handedly drive us to a climax that is surprising, inevitable, and memorable. Moreover, this work offers a plethora of story threads that will prove to be more than enough to build out a season of TV.

    Key points: 1. The bad ass, complex figure that is Sonny Carter.
    2. The sexy, mysterious femme fatale that is Sarah Garrett.
    3. The smarmy-as-all-hell, love-to-hate-him villain in Eddie Bishop.
    4. The much sought-after, effortless camaraderie that is present between witty, fast-talking, age-old friends.
    5. No shortage of compelling, immediate side villains in the many, dangerous, unsavory mobsters.

    Synopsis

    1960s. New York City. Sonny Carter, 50s, is released from prison after 25 years, having served time for trying to knock off a local bank. He's picked up by his long-time pals and former partners in crime Morrie Cooper and Bernie Miller, both 50s. They hit it off, just like old times, but Sonny is dismayed to hear that Eddie Bishop, 50s--the man who turned them in--is now the president of the very bank they once tried to rob. Morrie has Sonny over to his family's home. Morrie's nephew works in television for CBS, and Sonny is taken aback by the widespread anticipation for The Beatles' North American debut. All the while, one Calvin Spencer is recruited by dim-witted mobster Bruno Provenzano and his right-hand man, the more cunning Renzo Genna. Spencer has a history of transporting sums of money for laundering to Eddie Bishop's bank, and Provenzano propositions him with delivering a huge sum that belongs to a mafioso higher-up than Provenzano. Spencer accepts the task.

    Sonny visits the bank and has a run-in with Bishop, who is snooty and condescending as ever. In the run-in, Sonny catches the eye of the stunning bank employee Sarah Garrett, 40s, who seems to share in a dislike to Bishop. Later, Sonny reunites with his old pals Morrie and Bernie as well as Al.

    Sonny confesses that he wants to attempt a heist again, but his colleagues are not convinced. Morrie reveals that he is terminally ill with cancer. Soon, Sonny heads to the bank and even opens an account. He has another amicable interaction with Sarah. As Renzo and Spencer unload the money at the bank with Eddie, Sonny joins Sarah for lunch, where they continue to hit it off.

    Bernie tends to his rapidly aging father, and later, Sonny and Sarah head to dinner, continuing to bond, largely over their shared dislike for Bishop. They have sex that night, and in the morning Sarah confesses she wants in on the heist, having been tipped off by Sonny casing the joint earlier in the week. Moreover, she wants to time it to The Beatles' TV debut. Soon, Sonny goes to each of his friends, asking that they simply hear him out. At the local bar, Sarah speaks to the men, outlining that they will be stealing mob money during the highly-anticipated TV performance. Sure enough, the men start to plan the job.

    The Beatles arrive to much fanfare and are greeted by Morrie's TV station employee nephew. All the while, Sonny and Sarah go on a date but are nearly busted by Bishop, who becomes increasingly suspicious of a scheme developing. Bishop injures his ankle in the city, while Sonny injures his back while ice skating with Sarah. A paranoid Bishop reigns in his loyal goon, the sleazy bank guard Seamus Flynn. Sonny discovers that Sarah is recently divorced.

    Soon, Bishop commands his men to move the suitcases of cash. Sonny is hiding in the bank with Sarah, and he is caught spying by Flynn. In response, Sonny bashes his head and flings him down the stairs, totally incapacitating him. Flynn is taken to the hospital, but Bishop is committed to finding out what Flynn saw. Deceitfully, Bishop manages to get into Flynn's hospital room, and the brawny goon tips him off that Sonny was in the bank.

    Soon, the heist is underway, but Bernie, the driver, notices a rogue Cadillac looming not far away. Sure enough, Sonny, Morrie, and Al are double-crossed-- Renzo appears with a gun and orders them to load the money in a car of his own. It's revealed that Sarah set them up, and Sonny is heartbroken. In the getaway car, Sarah gets signed divorce papers from Renzo, revealed to be her estranged husband. This was his end of the bargain. Sarah promptly parts ways with him, reconnects with Sonny and co., and reveals that Renzo has merely collected decoy bags of cash. An elated Sonny and crew recover the real bags and soon depart from the bank.

    Soon enough, Renzo catches wind of the ploy, and he chases Sarah, Sonny, and the men in a riotous car chase with Bishop and Spencer in tow, too. The heroes head to the TV station, where insane crowds have turned out for The Beatles. They discreetly unload the bags, while a decoy vehicle flees. Renzo and co. give chase, but the truck crashes into a gas pump and explodes into a blaze of glory before plummeting into the river. Sonny breaks down crying when he discovers that his old friend Morrie has perished.

    Time passes before we reunite with Sonny and Sarah. They visit Morrie's gravesite, where Sonny updates him on life after the heist for himself and for each of their partners. We learn that the errant mafiosos were found in the river, having taken the fall for the missing cash. Sarah and Sonny embrace for a likely happily-ever-after ending.

    About The Author

    Dan McNeil is the published author of two novels. An accomplished songwriter and television veteran of 25 years, Dan took to novel writing as his next challenge, producing not one, but two award winning books.