"Shit, it's the Stupid Hair Police! RUN!"


"Shit, it's the Stupid Hair Police! RUN!"

BEN-HUR (2016)

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. JUDEA

JACK HUSTON and TOBY KEBBELL are frolicking on HORSES, as narrated by MORGAN FREEMAN.

MORGAN FREEMAN

(sitting in corner, doing sudoku)

(looks up)

Huh?

As NARRATED by MORGAN FREEMAN.

MORGAN FREEMAN

What? Why? There’s no reason for my character to provide narration. What, is it just because of my voice? It’s just the voice, isn’t it. I swear, sometimes this thing’s more trouble than it’s worth.

(sighs)

(V.O.)

Once there was a Jewish prince named Jack Huston and his Roman adopted brother, Toby Kebbell. There, now leave me alone.

JACK HUSTON

So. We’re really doing this, huh. Making a new Ben-Hur. What the hell is wrong with us?

TOBY KEBBELL

Naw man, it could work! We just gotta grab the bull by the horns and have the same brash confidence, opulent excess and ball-withering swagger as the 1959 version. Spend a billion dollars on it! Make it four hours long! Strut it into cinemas like a cinematic colossus which DEMANDS to be seen! This could be awesome!

JACK HUSTON

Okay, but what if we gave this thing only two-thirds the budget of the third Rush Hour movie? And made it only three minutes longer than Silver Linings Playbook? And sort of snuck it into cinemas with a level of discretion worthy of the witness protection program?

TOBY KEBBELL

Oh. Well, if we did that, then yeah, this movie would be completely wrong-headed, baffling and pointless.

JACK HUSTON

That about sums it up. In fact, here, let me do an impression of this movie:

His horse TRIPS and he FACEPLANTS at roughly MACH 4. His FACE is ejected out the back of his SKULL and he instantly DIES.

END.

JACK HUSTON

No no, I’m not doing THAT accurate an impression. Despite how absurdly fatal that looked, all that happens is I’m unconscious for a little bit while my family’s all “OH NO NOT JACK”, then I’ll wake up and we’ll never reference this again.

TOBY KEBBELL

Then what was the point of this scene? We’ve halved the running length, we don’t have time for meaningless added-on crap like that! I’m gonna abruptly join the army to hurry the plot along.

(leaves)

JACK HUSTON

Yes, haste, good idea! So it turns out I’m in love with our slave Nazanin Boniadi but can’t marry her because of class differences so I free her so she can marry somebody else but then I change my mind and go after her and marry her anyway.

NAZANIN BONIADI

Wow, we just blew through an entire romantic subplot in about forty-five seconds worth of screen time. We could’ve just started out married if we’re in that much of a hurry.

One day JACK finds that his SISTER is hiding INJURED JEWISH ZEALOT MOISES ARIAS.

JACK HUSTON

Hoo boy. We gotta tread lightly here, because yes, officially the Romans are the bad guys, but siding too hard with the violent insurgents committing terrorisms against the global power that’s occupying their lands... could be problematic.

MOISES ARIAS

Agreed. To play it safe we should probably only voice the most sophomoric, high school political studies-level opinions we can manage.

JACK HUSTON

Works for me. If you fight the Romans they kill you so you should stop doing that!

MOISES ARIAS

But eventually it might become too many people for them to kill and then they’d have to give up so we should keep doing that!

RODRIGO SANTORO

(popping up)

There’s a third solution you haven’t thought of! You should just love everybody, including your enemy! That way one day your enemy will get so suspicious of this behavior that he’ll nail you to a pole and kill you. Everybody wins!

JACK HUSTON

Jesus Christ, you’re... Jesus Christ! In this day and age I would have bet anything that the whole “Jesus was way cool” theme would have been cut.

RODRIGO SANTORO

Nope, it’s an actual big-budget Christian movie in 2016. Moises here is even playing Dismas!

JACK HUSTON

Saint Dismas? You mean the penitent thief?

MOISES ARIAS

Yes, except now it’s more the completely non-penitent violent revolutionary.

JACK HUSTON

Hey, so where did Henry Avery stash his treasure anyway?

MOISES ARIAS

Dude. It doesn’t work like that.

INT. CASA DE BEN-HUR

TOBY comes home from WARRIN’, accompanied by PONTIUS PILATE and a fuckload of SOLDIERS.

TOBY KEBBELL

I’m a tribune now! Apparently my theory that I could achieve more as a random footsoldier in the Roman war machine than as a member of an actual royal family panned out for me. And meet my psychotic prick of a centurion.

PSYCOTICUS ASSHOLINUS

We conquered this city ages ago, why is it still standing? Come on people, when you defeat somebody in war you’re supposed to murder them all, burn down their homes, salt the earth and nuke the site from orbit! THAT’S HOW AN EMPIRE WORKS!

JACK HUSTON

Hmm, with Roman bigwigs hanging around my house I should probably get Moises out of the basement for his safety and ours. But I guess the idea is that he’s too weak and feeble to be moved-

MOISES sprints to the ROOF and fires an ARROW that barely misses PONTIUS PILATE and instead kills an UNLUCKY RANDOM SOLDIER.

JACK HUSTON

FUCK! Maybe it was a silly idea to leave weapons in the same room as the guy who kept ranting about the joys of Roman-murdering.

JACK rushes MOISES out of the house, then TOBY and a bunch of SOLDIERS come in and detain EVERYBODY.

JACK HUSTON

Toby, leave my family alone, I’ll confess! I harbored a criminal shot that guy! Wait, what? What I meant to say was, the murderer was some zealot I was protecting me, I am the killer, I did it personally! What the FUCK is happening?! Why wouldn’t I just tell the truth? Claiming to have fired that arrow myself is a completely pointless and suicidal lie accurate please execute me OH GODDAMNIT

TOBY KEBBELL

Jack, you’re under arrest! Oh, and I’m supposed to arrest your mother and sister as well, but that’s something my character would never do in a million years, so uh, psychotic centurion?

PSYCOTICUS ASSHOLINUS

TOBY ARREST THOSE INNOCENT WOMEN OR YOU’RE FIRED FROM ROME.

TOBY KEBBELL

Thanks! That was your one plot function, you can go now.

PSYCOTICUS ASSHOLINUS

(evaporates)

TOBY arrests the BEN-HURS! He sends JACK’S MOTHER AND SISTER off to be EXECUTED, and sentences JACK to SLAVERY.

TOBY KEBBELL

It’s the galley for you! And look, here’s a boat parked right here, due to ship out this minute, that happens to be short one rower, so we can get you slaving immediately even if that’s completely silly.

(kicks Jack aboard)

INT. WAR GALLEY, FIVE YEARS LATER

JACK has now been ROWING for FIVE YEARS. He doesn’t seem to have put on any MUSCLE, but he has become considerably more GUNGY-LOOKING.

JAMES COSMO

(coming belowdecks)

Inspection time! I’m Quintus Arrius, one of the main characters from the 1959 version, and

(leaves movie)

JACK HUSTON

(growling)

Well his inclusion was pointless, but then so is all of life. Good writing matters not. Respect for source material matters not. Only survival.

SLAVE

Okay yikes, is that the performance you’re going with? Up until now you’ve just been bland. Now you’re like a homeless man with a hangover trying to do a Batman voice.

JACK HUSTON

Am I at least getting the Heston-esque hate glare right?

(pouts sulkily)

SLAVE

Dude, it’s a lost cause. Charlton Heston looked like a man who could punch out a bull, whereas you look like Bret McKenzie's hipster cousin. You’d need a testosterone transplant from like ten gorillas before you’d make a decent substitute.

JACK HUSTON

Dangit. Let’s just do the war scene already.

WAR HAPPENS! A bunch of enemy ships arrive and all the boats start ramming and shooting at each other!

JACK HUSTON

Oh this is cool, we’re seeing the entire battle from our perspective! We can only catch glimpses of the chaos through these little windows here! These... dozens of pointless holes that they’ve put in the hull of a ship, right above the waterline, what the FUCK kind of-

They get RAMMED! The side of the ship RIPS OPEN and the CHAINED-TOGETHER SLAVES are all pulled into the OCEAN!

JACK HUSTON

Fuck, everyone I’m chained to died somehow! I better unchain myself from them before I get dragged to... the bottom of the...

(looks around)

Oh for fuck’s sake. I’m not sinking. I’m in the OCEAN attached to about twenty feet of THICK IRON CHAIN and I’m NOT FUCKING SINKING! How dumb do we think the audience is?!

He manages to UNCHAIN HIMSELF and float away on either some FLOTSAM or some JETSAM, I can never remember what the difference is.

EXT. BEACH

JACK washes up on a BEACH, where he is found by SHEIK MORGAN FREEMAN and his ENTOURAGE.

MORGAN FREEMAN

So in the old movie we had an Arab played by a white guy. This time it’s a black guy. Is that... closer? More racist? Less? Bah, I’m sure Tumblr will let me know.

(helps Jack up)

Anyway, me and my friends here are on our way to Judea, the exact place you need to go to reunite with your wife and get revenge on Toby. Now if you can only find some coincidental reason for us to not turn you over to the authorities, this shameless plot contrivance will be complete.

JACK HUSTON

Uhh - oh, you own a race chariot! I can help, I have amazing horse whisperer skills.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Since when? We’ve only seen you with a horse in one scene, and you managed to crash it.

JACK HUSTON

Yeah well, we’ve just now decided that I am the world’s foremost authority on horses, just deal with it.

MORGAN takes JACK back to JUDEA, where he finds NAZANIN.

JACK HUSTON

Check it out honey, I escaped! What have you been up to these past five years?

NAZANIN BONIADI

Well, remember Rodrigo, that ruggedly handsome philosopher? I’ve joined his cult and basically been hanging around him the entire time! He’s great and wise and kind and did I mention how great he is?

JACK HUSTON

Huh, from my perspective it’d be very reasonable for me to find this all very fishy and get real jealous right about now. Good thing I’m too obsessed with killing Toby to even fully pay attention to whatever you were just saying. Speaking of which, I gots me some jerk-murdering to do!

(strolls off)

NAZANIN BONIADI

Wait, Jack! Don’t give in to hate! Or at least don’t assume that killing a Roman tribune will be as simple as sending him an invitation to come get stabbed, I mean come on.

INT. JACK’S OLD HOUSE

TOBY comes in answer to JACK’S ANONYMOUS INVITE.

JACK HUSTON

Toby! I’m back! Handy that I had this nice deserted meeting place to use, huh? I mean you’d think, in five years, somebody would have moved into a swanky mansion like this. The local realtors must be total hacks. Anyway:

(gravel voice)

The time has come for you to pay for what you did. Five long years I’ve-

(coughs uncontrollably)

TOBY KEBBELL

Seriously man, the tough-guy performance, it’s just embarrassing. How are you this pissweak an actor? Doesn’t your aunt have an Oscar?

JACK HUSTON

I know, there’s a bit of pressure there to-

TOBY KEBBELL

And your grandfather?

JACK HUSTON

I know! But he was-

TOBY KEBBELL

And your great-grandfather?

JACK HUSTON

I FUCKING KNOW! Shut up already!

TOBY KEBBELL

I mean, even your dad was nominated for-

JACK HUSTON

GodDAMNit! This must be what it’s like to be a Coppola!

(pulls out bazooka)

THIS IS FOR FANTASTIC FOUR, YOU PLASTIC-HEADED DOUCHE! Oh, and for destroying my family too I guess.

But then it turns out TOBY was hiding a HORDE OF SOLDIERS up his sleeve, and JACK has to run for it.

JACK HUSTON

Cadsarnit! I need a new, preferably less idiotic murder plan.

MORGAN FREEMAN

Well it seems Toby is an undefeated competitive charioteer. If you face off against him in the circus, you could play dirty and kill him. Also I’ll get Pontius Pilate to agree that winning the race means all your crimes are forgiven, because that’s seriously the level of writing this movie has.

JACK HUSTON

Let me get this straight. The plan is for me, who as far as I can tell has never raced a chariot before in his life, to race Toby, and undefeated champion, and not only come first but kill Toby along the way?

(sighs)

Whatever, let’s just do this thing.

SOME DUDE

(appearing in puff of smoke)

But wait, there’s one other plot point to awkwardly jam in! Your mother and sister are still alive. Back when Toby ordered them killed, I, whoever the hell I am, saved them from execution!

JACK HUSTON

Oh sweet, you got them to safety?

SOME DUDE

Nope, threw them in prison. They’re dying of leprosy now.

JACK HUSTON

...What the hell is wrong with you?

SOME DUDE

Hey, I’m just a plot device, I don’t need coherent motives.

(flies away)

EXT. RACETRACK

JACK is about to race TOBY.

MORGAN FREEMAN

All the drivers are going to be trying to kill each other, so the best strategy is to deliberately lag behind and stay out of their way.

JACK HUSTON

What, for real? We’re about to have a high-octane action climax full of vehicular mayhem, and I, the hero, am going to just loiter sensibly behind it? NOW is when we decide to let sensible character behavior get in our way?

MORGAN FREEMAN

I’m afraid so. And to try and give my character stuff to do during the race, I’ll be shouting advice you couldn’t possibly hear over all the charging horses, and giving you signals that you probably won’t see as you tear past at forty miles an hour.

The RACE begins!

TOBY KEBBELL

(locks wheels with opponent)

Take that, knave!

(takes sharp corner, dodges between attackers)

Nice try, ruffians!

(rams, sideswipes, outmanoeuvres)

FOR ROOOOOME!!!

JACK HUSTON

(canters leisurely in last place)

Woo. Safe driving. Intelligent tactics. Rock on.

(dutifully checks rear-view mirror)

Finally TOBY and JACK are the only NON-DEAD RACERS. JACK manages to get THROWN from his CHARIOT and DRAGGED ALONG THE GROUND.

TOBY KEBBELL

Oh neat! This basically assures that I’ll win as long as I don’t crash my chariot. Then Jack will be arrested and go back to slavery, and everything will work out for me!

(pause)

Although I’m sure there's no harm in taking my eyes off the road juuuust long enough to give Jack ten or twenty unnecessary stomps in the face-

TOBY CRASHES! JACK and his RUINED CHARIOT slide brokenly past the FINISHING LINE, which means he TECHNICALLY WINS!

JACK HUSTON

But oh no, now that I see Toby’s horse-trampled body, I realize the hollow dissatisfaction of vengeance! Now I am filled with remorse, and wish only to stop the cycle of hate that-

RODRIGO SANTORO

(nailed to cross)

Wait a cotton-pickin’ moment! You can’t have this epiphany by yourself, you’re supposed to see me get crucified first!

JACK HUSTON

But it completely fits my characterization, what little of it that I have, for me to reach this emotional crisis on my own. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying for it to be an organic part of a character arc, instead of something that basically gets handed to me through divine intervention?

RODRIGO SANTORO

No! This is a Jesus story, in a Jesus story all achievements are Jesus’s achievements by default. Now do that moment of emotional maturation again, but this time, more Christ-y!

(dies)

JACK HUSTON

Fine.

(sighs)

Oh look, a mutilated corpse! Therefore something something something, I don’t hate Toby anymore! Yaaayyyy!

He runs to meet TOBY, who has lost a leg but is not DYING or COMATOSE or any of the things you’d expect of a guy who was BODILY PITCHED underneath FOUR GALLOPING HORSES.

TOBY KEBBELL

(swinging sword)

YOU’VE CRIPPLED ME, JACK! I’LL KILL YOU FOR-

JACK HUSTON

Woah, hold on there, we’re not doing that anymore.

TOBY KEBBELL

(putting down sword)

Oh. Really?

JACK HUSTON

Yeah. Look, we both got made some mistakes. You put me into slavery and tried to murder my family, I competed against you in a sporting event - I figure we’re about even. Friends?

TOBY KEBBELL

Okay! Let’s stroll out of here merrily, despite my having had my leg chopped off like an hour ago!

NAZANIN BONIADI

And look Jack, your mom and sister got some of Jesus’ blood on them and it cured their leprosy!

JACK HUSTON

(smiling)

Last I saw of them they were both dying horribly and now they’ve been cured by literal magic, yet I’ll not show the slightest bit of surprise or confusion!

TOBY KEBBELL

(smiling)

Me neither, even though up until this moment I thought they’d been executed years ago!

JACK HUSTON

Wow, we really made a hash of things, didn’t we? Oh well, we won’t make the kind of bank a movie with the name Ben-Hur should, but we’ve got a couple of halfway decent action scenes, we should at least squeak by with a small profit.

TOBY KEBBELL

(checks Box Office Mojo)

Apparently we made only a third as much money as the 1959 movie.

JACK HUSTON

Hey, no fair using inflation-adjusted figures!

(pause)

R...right?

END.

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