Featured Abridged Scripts »

"PARDON ME SIR HAVE YOU TRIED ARBY'S NEW CHIPOTLE CHICKEN WRAP"
Birdman

BIRDMAN

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. THEATRE - DRESSING ROOM

MICHAEL KEATON floats cross-legged in mid-air wearing his TIGHTY WHITIES, so that our story can really hit the ground running by throwing some flimsily-covered OLD-GUY SCROTE in our face.

MICHAEL KEATON

Eh, worked for Breaking Bad.

Various posters and memorabilia indicate that MICHAEL is playing an actor who used to be... BIRDman. BIRD. Then other guys like GEORGE LOONEY and VOLE KILMER played increasingly stupider versions of BIRDman until finally a gritty reboot by CHRISTOPHER NUTHATCH made BIRDman respectable and even got an Academy Award for THRUSH LEDGER.

DISEMBODIED BIRDMAN VOICE

You suck Keaton. You never should have quit being... BIRDman. Have you SEEN that Ben Sadfleck poster?

MICHAEL KEATON

Hmm, voices in my head. And I can make things move with my mind! No way does that first fact cast any doubt on the second one, I clearly have superpowers now!

MICHAEL’s ever-flustered manager ZACK GALIFIANAKIS arrives.

MICHAEL KEATON

Dammit, why are you here?

ZACK GALIFIANAKIS

Because we have the only casting director in the world who didn’t watch “Hangover III”. Come on, it's rehearsal time.

MICHAEL and ZACK WALK AND WALK AND WALK down to the stage of the play MICHAEL is producing, an adaptation of a RAYMOND CARVER story starring HIMSELF, NAOMI WATTS, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, and…

UNTALENTED SHMUCK

(crushed by falling stagelight)

Ack!

(brain damage)

MICHAEL KEATON

Whoops, too bad. Actually, I made that happen with my telekinesis, he was a shitty actor.

ZACK GALIFIANAKIS

Wait, if that’s true, you’re a psychopath! You know, people have a way of getting rid of unwanted employees, it’s called FIRING THEM. And I’m supposed to care about you during the next two hour-

MICHAEL KEATON

I MUST MAKE A COMEBACK. MAKE DRAMA, WIN AWARDS, HYPE THE PUBLIC.

ZACK GALIFIANAKIS

By being a former superhero blockbuster star making a small indie comeback in a movie about a former superhero blockbuster star making a small indie comeback?

MICHAEL KEATON

I’m hoping it’s SO obvious, that it loops back around to being subtle again.

They WALK AND WALK to A DIFFERENT PART OF THE THEATRE.

MICHAEL KEATON

Hang on, are we doing this whole movie in one shot?

ZACK GALIFIANAKIS

Nah, we’re faking it. It’ll look really cool, except for those parts where we’re obviously masking a cut, which is shockingly often.

MICHAEL KEATON

So why bother?

DIRECTOR ALEJANDRO INARRITU

I MUST MAKE DRAMA, WIN AWARDS, HYPE THE PUBLIC. Cuaron got tons of props for doing Gravity mostly in real time, but there were 3 or 4 little time jumps in it and shit! I’m gonna do my entire movie in like 2 shots, that’ll show him! Besides, people loved “Russian Ark” for this.

MICHAEL KEATON

Yeah, but without the one-shot gimmick, that movie was boring as squash rot.

DIRECTOR ALEJANDRO INARRITU

Don’t make me drop a light on you.

MICHAEL WALKS AND WALKS back to his dressing room for press interviews.

REPORTER

So Michael, tell us more about this revolutionary wankfest.

MICHAEL KEATON

Basically we’re taking this 1995 Steve Buscemi movie called LIVING IN OBLIVION and redoing it, but switching from comedy to taking ourselves VERY VERY SERIOUSLY. But then telling the Golden Globes it’s a comedy.

(pause)

It’s cool though, nobody remembers that stupid Buscemi movie. Fuck it, we’ll even keep the dwarf who complains about only doing dream sequences.

MICHAEL WALKS AND WALKS back to THE STAGE and finds replacement actor EDWARD NORTON.

EDWARD NORTON

Hi there. Your acting sucks, all that Birdman stuff you did was bullshit. Superhero movies are all bullshit. Especially Marvel Studios movies, those IN PARTICULAR are bullshit.

(smiles)

Luckily you now have me, the amazing Edward Norton, whom everyone knows and loves and wants to suck the toenails on and would pay to suckle the ears of and

(goes on for fucking hours)

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

(popping head in frame)

I’m pregnant.

MICHAEL'S daughter EMMA STONE takes EDWARD away and they WALK AND WALK down to costuming. He gets NAKED!

EDWARD NORTON

Ha ha losers, witness my astounding devotion to the craft, in the form of my pasty buttcheeks! I just scored MAJOR awards points!

EDWARD gets dressed and WALKS AND WALKS over to the DRESS REHEARSAL, which goes great until EDWARD discovers that his GIN has been replaced with MARK RUFFALO WATER.

EDWARD NORTON

(freaking out)

ARRRRRGH NO MORE FUCKING SUBSTITUTIONS!!! I INSIST WE ONLY USE ORIGINAL GENUINE THINGS! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SET, YOU MUST BUILD A FULL-SIZED REAL ACTUAL HOUSE AND TIME-TRAVEL US BACK TO THE 1950S AND ARRRRRRGH

MICHAEL KEATON

Goddammit Ed, you asshole! That's it, you're fired! Or we should go get a drink, whichever.

ED and MICHAEL WALK AND WALK over to the nearby BAR.

EDWARD NORTON

I think you're overreacting to my huge childish tantrum. Remind me, why is this so important to you again?

MICHAEL KEATON

I MUST MAKE A COMEBACK. MAKE DRAMA, WIN...

EDWARD NORTON

No no, important to your CHARACTER.

MICHAEL KEATON

Same thing.

EDWARD NORTON

But surely there’s some microgram of relatable human motivation. You did remember to include that part, right?

MICHAEL KEATON

Oh yeah. Raymond Carver saw me act once and wrote me a deeply personal, heartfelt note. It's scrawled on this bar napkin stained with beer and vomit.

EDWARD NORTON

You were fleetingly, disposably acknowledged by a famous person, and that now drives your whole life? We may have just accidentally summed up the 21st century.

MICHAEL WALKS AND WALKS back to the THEATRE and frantically spazzes around, trying to get his madcap dysfunctional actors and crew under control in time for the big show. He passes by the guy who’s been playing DRUMS this entire time.

ANIMAL FROM THE MUPPETS

(drumming)

AN-I-MAAAL!! AAAN-III-MAAAAAAALL!!!!!!!

The next DRESS REHEARSAL happens, and they reach the FINAL SCENE.

NAOMI WATTS

Huh, so the play ends with Michael Keaton's character shooting himself and GOSH I WONDER HOW THE MOVIE IS GONNA END, HURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

Hang on, that wasn’t in the Raymond Carver story at all! We just made it up to be artsy!

A FALLING LIGHT misses her by INCHES. EDWARD and NAOMI take their places, where they are in bed together.

EDWARD NORTON

Oh hey, I’m totally hard. How about I fuck you for real? You’re cool with that right?

NAOMI WATTS

Why would ANY human being think anybody would ever be cool with that.

EDWARD NORTON

Because I’m METHOD! That trumps everything else because otherwise my character might have sides and multiple dimensions and stuff.

EDWARD tries to RAPE NAOMI, but then we get to see EDWARD NORTON’S ERECT PENIS so it’s funny now. NAOMI rushes off distraught, so MICHAEL WALKS AND WALKS AND WALKS up to her dressing room.

MICHAEL KEATON

Fuck, this movie has more walking than Lord of the Rings. Anyway, don’t worry Naomi, you are awesome, I really mean that, please don’t sue me.

(leaves)

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

Michael’s never said anything that sincere and heartfelt to me! Let’s make out.

NAOMI WATTS

Huh? Why?

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

When they pitched this as “Comedy Black Swan,” they meant the whole thing, dammit!

They KISS, PASSIONATELY. This impacts the story by

DISEMBODIED BIRDMAN VOICE

BZZZZT THE REASONS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR CANNOT BE FOUND

NAOMI WALKS AND WALKS and passes ZACK who WALKS AND WALKS and passes EDWARD who WALKS AND WALKS and WHOOPS HIS BACK TOOK UP THE WHOLE SCREEN FOR A MOMENT, GOSH WHAT HAPPENED THERE, and now he is on the ROOFTOP to do a scene with EMMA.

EDWARD NORTON

Wait. Don’t we have two rooftop scenes?

EMMA STONE

Yeah, but they’re basically the same.

EDWARD NORTON

Cool. So we should have sex. Except I can’t have sex. Except wait, yes I can.

EMMA STONE

Cool.

EDWARD NORTON

Also I wanna rip your eyes out.

EMMA STONE

Less cool. Try again later.

EMMA WALKS DOWNSTAIRS and passes ANDREA who WALKS PAST MICHAEL who wanders into his DRESSING ROOM and uses TELEKINESIS to break shit. Or maybe he just SMACKS STUFF.

DISEMBODIED BIRDMAN VOICE

What did you expect, Michael? Why would you make a play from a short story that’s nothing-

MICHAEL KEATON

(running hand through seven light bulbs)

SHUUUUUUT UUUUP

DISEMBODIED BIRDMAN VOICE

-but a lady talking about how much her abusive boyfriend loved her?

MICHAEL KEATON

(horribly bleeding)

(arteries severed)

It’s all about LEVELS, asshole! We’ve deliberately constructed this situation where a great short story’s been made into a crappy play, to hopefully make a great movie! Critics love all that contrasting level shit. Oh by the way, FUCK YOU CRITICS. Please love us.

MICHAEL gets ready for the preview performance but then gets locked outside in his underwear. He fails to free his ROBE from the door it's caught in, then POLITELY KNOCKS on the door which, shockingly, no one hears.

MICHAEL KEATON

I’m doomed. I’ll have to walk through Times Square in my underwear, where everyone will film me! It’s too bad I’m not surrounded by trash bags or anything I could use to cover my face.

CELLPHONE USERS

(filming Michael)

It’s also too bad you decided to walk directly through an oncoming parade in the street instead of, say, a sidewalk where parades don’t happen.

MICHAEL KEATON

(climbing Coca-Cola sign)

OH NOOOO DON’T LOOK AT MEEEEEE

He finishes the play in his UNDERWEAR, then WALKS AND WALKS back to the BAR.

CRITIC

Fuck you Keaton. I’m so over the top I make Anton Ego look like a finely tuned character study. And no, there’s no magic food that will make me like you.

MICHAEL KEATON

So? You’re just a CRITIC! Critics suck ass, please validate me, eat shit!!

AUDIENCE

YEAH! I fucking hate critics, I’m so glad I saw this movie I wouldn’t even know about if all the critics hadn’t told me to go see it!

MICHAEL gets SHITFACED and passes out. The CAMERA pans up into the sky and TIME PASSES.

DIRECTOR ALEJANDRO INARRITU

STILL ONE TAKE! Okay this is a really obvious cheat and clearly the actors didn’t stand around for 12 hours in character while this happened, but STILL ONE TAKE, KIND OF!!! And that also goes for the OTHER two times I do this same trick! FUCK YOU CUARON!!!

MICHAEL wakes up, and walks around hallucinating his BIRDMAN PERSONA as well as REALLY EXPENSIVE SPECIAL EFFECTS because this is a small plucky indie movie with indie cred that can now be marketed as an ACTION MOVIE.

BIRDMAN

(literally talking to camera)

Yeah, audiences like idiotic action shit because they got shallow pockets of mucus for brains! No one appreciates REAL art anymore, with non-sequitur metaphors or the petty quests of insufferable protagonists!

AUDIENCE

YEAH! I’m so glad I paid to see a rich guy act like a dick in a theatre instead of in a robot suit, now I feel smart!

MICHAEL wraps up with a WEAPON OF CHOICE daydream and returns to the THEATRE, where he finds EMMA holding THE SCRIPT some TOILET PAPER.

EMMA STONE

All this acting angst is bullshit. And all the awards and likes and retweets and such is even bigger bullshit.

MICHAEL KEATON

Um, you may have noticed we’re hoping for major Oscar treatment here. Is this reverse psychology or something?

EMMA STONE

Of course! And now that I’ve delivered a monologue with any substance whatsoever, I’m a total lock for every supporting actress nomination out there. Fuck yeah!

ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

(popping head in frame)

Actually I'm not pregnant.

ZACK GALIFIANAKIS

(evaporates)

EMMA WALKS AWAY to find EDWARD to go have sex.

EDWARD NORTON

Hang on, isn’t the first rule of romance that the audience has to fall in love with BOTH characters? Otherwise nobody will want to see them end up together?

EMMA STONE

It’s okay, we’re both obnoxious dipshits so the rule works in reverse!

They FUCK on the FLY RAIL, like all the techies in your high school theatre probably did. This impacts the flow of events by

DISEMBODIED BIRDMAN VOICE

BRRRRAP PURPOSE CANNOT BE LOCATED, PLEASE SEARCH YOUR LOCAL PILES OF BIRD SHIT

It's OPENING NIGHT now - STILL ONE TAKE FAP FAP FAP - and MICHAEL is back in his dressing room. His exwife AMY RYAN shows up.

AMY RYAN

I hope your show goes well, you insufferable bastard that I hate.

MICHAEL KEATON

Thanks. Listen, back when we were together, I tried killing myself by drowning, but there were icky jellyfish and it was like, REALLY COLD, y’know how you think it won’t be THAT cold, but then, YIIIKES IT’S FUCKING COLD?!? So I wimped out. But this is my chance to really do something good.

AMY RYAN

What, this self-indulgent circus trick of a movie, THIS is your big chance? Where you’ve spent half of it arguing that it’s all meaningless?

MICHAEL KEATON

Damn right! See, we can argue over whether this means anything for hours. Go back and forth saying, acting is noble, acting is vain, acting is truth, acting is pointless. But the thing is, IT’S STILL ALL ABOUT ACTING. We get credibility points for taking shots at ourselves while keeping the spotlight firmly planted on us! Maybe there’s meaning to be found in other walks of life, in unglamorous jobs, in simply being a good friend and a decent person, or God forbid, focusing on OTHER FUCKING PEOPLE, but fuck that shit, we gotta keep jerking it over MY ACTING and MY ART and searching for meaning THERE and THERE ALONE because if that spotlight ever goes off, who knows, we might see the whole world.

MICHAEL takes a REAL GUN and WALKS AND WALKS to the stage and SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE HEAD. This receives a STANDING OVATION from the THEATRE AUDIENCE, so impressed by the SHOCK ENDING that they forget all about the TWO HOURS of ruthlessly mediocre playwrighting that came before it.

M. NIGHT SHYALAMAN

Hm, maybe I should do theatre.

EXT. ARSTY MONTAGE

Things! Dead animals! Experimental film! Goodbye to Language!

INT. HOSPITAL

MICHAEL wakes up in a HOSPITAL BED with a BIG HONKIN BANDAGE on his face.

EMMA STONE

Good news Dad, you managed to only wound your nose, so you officially have the worst aim ever. On the other hand, everyone loves your play, you’re a huge hit, and I respect you now!

MICHAEL KEATON

Let me get this straight. I attempted suicide. As a direct result, I immediately got everything I wanted and everyone loves me.

EMMA STONE

Yep. Hell of a message, Mike.

MICHAEL KEATON

But don't you see? I finally did it... I made this whole universe all about ME!

(to camera)

I'd like to thank the Academy for this award, and for choosing me over a guy currently doing some of the worst overacting since Battlefield Earth. Now for a demonstration of my powers!!

(jumps out window)

EMMA goes to the window, looks UP, and SMILES.

DIRECTOR ALEJANDRO INARRITU

Aw yeah, ambiguous ending shot! That's like meth to critics, shiny hardware here we come!!!

EMMA STONE

But every other “supernatural” thing has been given real-life explanations, so logically Michael’s a street pancake while I’m hallucinating from having inherited his mental illness. Not much of a mystery--

EMMA gets CRUSHED by a FALLING STAGELIGHT. BIRDMAN finishes taking a MASSIVE TWO-HOUR DUMP, while over in the washroom, the BIRDMAN CHARACTER also finishes taking a MASSIVE TWO-HOUR DUMP.

END

He laughed when they said "Wear a helmet." Now he'll never laugh again.
Boyhood
American Stinker
American Sniper
"And you're gonna keep playing until I get some pictures of goddam Spiderman!!"
Whiplash
"I've made each row all one colour... why won't they crush?!? WHY CAN'T I BEAT THIS LEVELLLLL"
The Imitation Game
"So, uh, a dwarf, an elf and a hobbit walk into a bar..."
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
"Yes, yes, my collab with Kanye drops on the 4th. Get hyped."
The Theory of Everything
The Inter-Pee-Yew
The Interview
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen....
Big Hero 6
"Oh my God! My back and neck pain...gone! Thank you, mysterious traveling chiropractor!"
The Equalizer
I know it was hard to see in that shower scene, but I promise you it was this big.
Gone Girl
Silly
Lucy
"Fine, DOUBLE pinky swear, I won't steal the movie. Now take these off?"
Thor: The Dark World
Even pirating this movie feels like too much effort.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Drawn-out Panning of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
"Look, I don't tip because society says I have to.  They're just doing their job!"
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
NoActualQuality
Noah