"This is for Batman & Robin!"


"This is for Batman & Robin!"

HAIL, CAESAR!

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. CONFESSIONAL

1950’s PROFESSIONAL FAST-TALKER JOSH BROLIN enters the CONFESSIONAL, perhaps to CONFESS.

JOSH BROLIN

Bless me father, for I have sinned.

PRIEST

Son, Oldboy wasn’t THAT bad, really. It had a few good-

JOSH BROLIN

No, not that. I’ve signed on to do another Coen Brothers movie.

PRIEST

Errrm, you’re pushing your luck, Josh. Coen movies come in pairs, remember. For every No Country For Old Men there’s a Burn After Reading to balance it out. Is it starring George Clooney?

JOSH BROLIN

He’s in it, yeah.

PRIEST

God help you.

JOSH goes to the home of RICHARD ABRAHAM to fast-talk actress NATASHA BASSETT out of some BARELY LEWD PHOTOGRAPHY.

JOSH BROLIN

Ye gods! PG-rated smut?! According to your contract, Morality Clause 5 subsection C through Q (Cleavage-Related Misdemeanors) this is a Class B violation!

NATASHA BASSETT

What does that get me?

JOSH BROLIN

A slap in the face.

(slaps her in the face)

But don’t worry, it’s satire, not abuse. Now, repent, Jezebel! Repent your sinful cleavage and thighs!

RICHARD ABRAHAM

Come on, Josh, it’s just a few postcards.

JOSH BROLIN

It’s the downfall of western civilization is what it is!

NATASHA BASSETT

Wait, is this a commentary on uptight 1950’s values against lewdness or are you actually moralizing about actresses getting their knockers out for cash?

JOSH BROLIN

It’s satire, babe.

(slaps her again)

NATASHA BASSETT

Satire isn’t just “doing something and then pointing at the thing you just did.”

JOSH BROLIN

(points at rest of film)

Sure it is.

JOSH assembles a veritable AVENGERS TEAM of CLERGYMEN, RABBIS, IMAMS, SIKHS, MAGI, NUNS, DRUIDS, and EARTH MOTHERS to discuss the RELIGIOUS MESSAGING of the latest FILM WITHIN A FILM, HAIL CAESAR!

JOSH BROLIN

So, God Squad. What did you all think of this film’s blatantly pro-Jesus message?

PRIEST

Well, it’s very Jesus, but not quite Jesus-Jesus, if you know what I mean.

JOSH BROLIN

I do not.

RABBI

It’s very simple, Goonie goy. Jesus was not the Messiah.

PRIEST

Was too!

RABBI

Was not!

JOSH BROLIN

Look boys, these are deep metaphysical conundrums that we can’t possibly solve in one round table. Why it would take several epic films to cover a topic as complex as God! Maybe a whole trilogy! It’s unknowable!

PRIEST

Well, I guess we can roll credits now, can’t we? I mean, message delivered. The Coens could just Tweet “Man can’t understand God, everything’s pointless and weird” and the audience would get roughly the same effect as watching this film.

JOSH BROLIN

What do you think, Jewish stereotype?

RABBI

Oy! My bris was so mohel, I bagel’d a circumcision!

JOSH BROLIN

Self-loathing Jew jokes! Such bold new territory for the Coens.

INT. ROMAN FILM SET

DASHING FILM SUPERSTAR GEORGE CLOONEY really stretches his ACTING MUSCLES playing a DASHING FILM SUPERSTAR, embroiled in the aforementioned FILM WITHIN A FILM. Little does he know, suspicious FILM EXTRA WAYNE KNIGHT has drugged his PROP WINE!

DIRECTOR

Alright, George. I want you to play this scene as insufferable, broad, self-aware, a little bite cutesy, you know, Cary Grant-esque, but with that little bobble-head thing you always do-

GEORGE CLOONEY

Default Clooney, got it.

(composing self)

Hail, Roman countrymen! Rejoice in the glory of revelry! Revel in the glory of rejoice-itude! Jupiter smile upon us all!

CLANCY BROWN

Verily! The Republic! Bread and circuses and whatnot!

(disappears from film)

DIRECTOR

Cut! Brilliantly hammy, George! Here’s hoping you don’t become the Johnny Depp to the Coen’s Tim Burton!

GEORGE CLOONEY

Thanks, man!

(drinks wine)

(spazzes out while passing out)

WAYNE KNIGHT

(cackles)

GEORGE CLOONEY

Newman!

GEORGE is KIDNAPPED and taken to a MYSTERIOUS BEACHHOUSE!

FRED MELAMED

Hello, George. Allow me and my band of semi-recognizable character actors to introduce ourselves. We… are COMMUNISTS!

(lightning flashes)

GEORGE CLOONEY

Holy shit! Pinkos! Russkis! Veritable card-carrying Bolshevik scum! What in Joe McCarthy’s name are you doing here in Hollywood?!

PATRICK FISCHLER

Screenwriting mostly.

GEORGE CLOONEY

Screen… writing?

FRED MELAMED

Yep.

GEORGE CLOONEY

Bolshevik propaganda screenwriting?

PATRICK FISCHLER

Well, a little bit. We sneak a couple pro-Commie messages in here and there, but for the most part it’s strictly for the bills. And frankly it’s kind of hard to sneak Communist messages in around all of that uber-American super-Jesus propaganda guys like you and Josh Brolin already make.

GEORGE CLOONEY

Fuck yeah! USA! USA!

PATRICK FISCHLER

Ugh, why is it always chanting with you capitalists? You’re like dogs smelling a mailman, I swear…

FRED MELAMED

Anyway, we want to show you a new way! You see, we’ve unlocked the secrets of humanity’s past to predict its future! And now it is time you became one of us!

GEORGE CLOONEY

What? No! I’m American as an apple pie fucking an AR-15! You can’t indoctrinate me!

PATRICK FISCHLER

Sure we can, George. Brace yourself… for light academia!

GEORGE CLOONEY

Nooooo!

The COMMUNISTS begin reading COMMIE FORTUNE COOKIE FACTOIDS to GEORGE, who is HELPLESS to resist their INESCAPABLE LOGIC.

GEORGE CLOONEY

My jawline… rounding! Bald eagle tattoo… growing hair! Oh god, oh no, I can’t… resist…. grrrraaaaAAHHH ABOLISH PRIVATE PROPERTY, SEIZE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, VOTE SANDERS 2016!!!

COMMUNISTS

(cackle)

INT. FANCY FILM SET

Meanwhile, fresh-faced cowboy superstar ALDEN EHRENREICH is shooting a SWANKY COSTUME DRAMA with director RALPH FIENNES.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Well gosh and golly gee, Mr. Feenie, I’m just tickled like a hog in a thistle bush that you’d hire a hayseed like me to be in your talkin’ picture here.

RALPH FIENNES

Yes, well, Josh Brolin was quite insistent that you be the next dyed-in-the-wool Barney Fife lookalike to be chewed up and spat out by the studio system like a mouthful of what you’d call “tabacky”.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

(pause)

Yer darn tootin’.

RALPH FIENNES

Well, this scene is quite simple dear boy. It’s a classic Coen Brothers riff-off. I simply require you to fail to deliver the line “would that it were so simple”. You think you can muck that up for me, old bean?

ALDEN EHRENREICH

“Would that it were so simple?”

RALPH FIENNES

Yes, but mangle it, old chap. Really gum it like a mouthful of chaw.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

“Wud that it wurr s’ simple?”

RALPH FIENNES

Out with it, boy! Like the tractor-fucking, moonshine-guzzling Confederate flag fetishist that I know you are!

ALDEN EHRENREICH

“W’d thittit’re ss’simple…

(pause)

With grits.”

RALPH FIENNES

Beautiful! Now let’s do this joke forty-five more times until all comedy is leeched from it like the last particles of sweet nectar from a honeysuckle’s blossom aaaand… cut!

JOSH appears and speaks to ALDEN.

JOSH BROLIN

So, you liking the Hollywood life there, Alden?

ALDEN EHRENREICH

S’alright. I do broad comedy fair enough, but I’m thinking of tackling a solo project. How’re your other superstars doing?

JOSH BROLIN

Well, George Clooney’s been kidnapped. They’re demanding ransom money.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Well, ain’t that a boot in the keister. I’ll be on the lookout for any trademark Coen Brothers plot conveniences.

JOSH BROLIN

I appreciate it.

JOSH then goes to a SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING PICTURE and meets another SUPERSTAR CLIENT, SCARLETT JOHANSSEN.

JOSH BROLIN

How you doin’, ScarJo?

SCARLETT JOHANSSEN

Gawd, Imma fuckin’ mahmaid ovah heyah! Swimmin’ around and shit! I’m all pregnant and shit, gawd!

JOSH BROLIN

Aw, it’s so cute when you do serious acting, ScarJo. I love your Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force impression.

SCARLETT JOHANSSEN

Frickin’ thank you or somethin’.

JOSH BROLIN

Anyway, we need to get you hitched. The public will never accept a starlet being preggers out of wedlock.

SCARLETT JOHANSSEN

Frickin’ things haven’t changed or somethin’. Morality clauses and shit. This is some, whattaycallit, satiyah?

JOSH BROLIN

Sure. Whatever. Just pick a Y-chromosome and put a ring on it.

SCARLETT JOHANSSEN

I’m walkin’ heyah!

JOSH leaves, and is accosted by TILDA SWINTON.

JOSH BROLIN

Jesus, MORE side characters? We’re like halfway done with this turd.

TILDA SWINTON

Not hardly, Josh. As a Hawksian woman journalist with massive chips on her sharp pointy shoulder pads, I demand that you give me the story about George Clooney’s kidnapping!

JOSH BROLIN

Give me twenty-four hours, sister. Then you can fill your rag with unfounded rumors I can neither confirm or deny.

TILDA leaves.

JOSH BROLIN

Alright, so, I guess I should investigate the kidnapping or-

And is replaced by her twin, TILDA TWINTON.

JOSH BROLIN

Two cameos for one actress?!

TILDA TWINTON

It’s not a cameo, Josh. I’m a real character! I’m TWO real characters! Identical ones! Acting!

JOSH BROLIN

It’s a cameo, sister. This whole movie is a rich tapestry of unconnected cameos.

TILDA TWINTON

I demand that you give me a different but similar story about George so I can outdo my sister!

JOSH BROLIN

Okay.

TILDA TWINTON

You promise?

JOSH BROLIN

Pinky swear, babydoll.

TILDA TWINTON

I shall rely on your honesty as a gentleman that you won’t fuck me on this.

JOSH BROLIN

(snorts)

JOSH stands alone for a bit.

JOSH BROLIN

Any more wacky subplots? Goofy side characters? No? We can get on with the kidnapping bullshit? Alright then…

JOSH takes two steps into some TALL GRASS and a WILD POINTLESS CHANNING TATUM TAP DANCE SEQUENCE APPEARS!

JOSH BROLIN

God dammit!

INT. CHINESE RESTAURANT

JOSH goes to meet a businessman from the LOCKHEED CORPORATION about taking a new JOB.

LOCKHEED GUY

So, Josh, have you considered our offer? I’m no pushover in negotiations, but I’d be willing to sextuple our starting salary if it means getting you onboard. Perhaps even fucktuple it if you play your cards right.

JOSH BROLIN

It’s a very flattering offer but I’m just not sure. I like this job. I get to beat women and yell at famous people and insert Jesus into media. It really is the American dream.

LOCKHEED GUY

Aw, come on Josh, work with airplanes. Jesus lives in the sky! You’d be closer to him!

JOSH BROLIN

It’s tempting. I’ll consider it.

LOCKHEED GUY

Well, the offer’s on the table if you want it. Just keep that in mind in case this film becomes in danger of developing some actual stakes.

JOSH BROLIN

Will do!

INT. MOVIE THEATER

ALDEN takes his new STUDIO-APPROVED DATE, VERONICA OSORIO, out to a SCHWANKY FILM PREMIERE.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Golly, but you are a picture of loveliness. I sure am glad the studio loaned me this year’s model for the night. I hear James Dean had to make do with a motel maid when he premiered Rebel Without A Cause.

VERONICA OSORIO

I aim to please, Mr. Alden! Josh Brolin was very insistent that we look couple-y.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Awful chivalrous of him to micromanage every aspect of his client’s lives. Lord willing, some day in the future, maybe celebrities will get to audition new romantic partners to test out how it affects their marketability before they get married for a few months and then flake out because they can’t live a lie, even for millions of dollars.

VERONICA OSORIO

It’s gonna be a golden age for Hollywood, babe. And you’re here on the ground floor!

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Well, let’s see how my movin’ picture turned out. I sing in this one.

We watch ALDEN watch himself in a FAKE MOVIE for a bit. To his consternation, the studio has turned his HEARTFELT BALLAD about the MOON into a goofy SLAPSTICK SEQUENCE.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Aw shucks, this ain’t what I had in mind! They got a big drunk guy jumpin’ up and down in a horse trough! Hell, this don’t even make sense! 1950’s musicals were cloying and stupid for sure, but this is some Tim and Eric-level awkward right here.

VERONICA OSORIO

It’s probably satire, Alden.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Satire’s one thing, but I’m starting to wonder if the Coens have ever seen a movie before, considering this is how they think you parody one. Oh well, at least the crowd seems to like it. Maybe there’s a future in goofy slapstick farce. Speaking of…

Suddenly, ALDEN spots CHANNING TATUM holding a MYSTERIOUS BRIEFCASE full of RANSOM MONEY.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Well Veronica, it’s been great, but the laws of Screwball Comedy demand I pursue Channing Tatum.

VERONICA OSORIO

Lucky boy. May the farce be with you!

ALDEN drives and drives and drives some more and finally discovers the BEACH HOUSE where GEORGE CLOONEY is being FORCIBLY EDUCATED in FRESHMAN-LEVEL POLITICAL THEORY!

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Hmm, how to infiltrate this Commie gulag? Perhaps I can use my previously demonstrated lassoing skills to latch onto the roof, climb up, descend through a skylight, and-

(opens front door)

Well, that was easier than my sister on Discount Moonshine Monday.

ALDEN enters the HOUSE to find all the COMMUNISTS have gone! GEORGE sits alone, casually reading.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

George! Praise the lord! You’ve been missing all day! Did they hurt you, George? Did they pull out your fingernails and force feed you vodka and make you watch Communist propaganda?

GEORGE CLOONEY

No, actually they gave me a manicure and we drank some dry martinis and watched Sesame Street, it was great!

ALDEN EHRENREICH

That’s the same thing, Cloons! They’ve brainwashed you!

GEORGE CLOONEY

Oh come on, a few lectures on labor dynamics aren’t going to turn my stars and stripes red. I mean, I HAVE been thinking more about the plight of the working man these past few hours, but still…

ALDEN EHRENREICH

We need to get you to Josh before this spreads any further! Alright, how do we escape?

GEORGE CLOONEY

We can probably just walk out of here. All the commies went to the beach to put Channing Tatum in a submarine. I’m not even kidding, Dolph Lundgren showed up to take him to Mother Russia. So, you know, subplot resolved, I guess.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

Consarn it, this whole day’s been a fire sale on Happy Coincidences, hasn’t it? Well, let’s not push our luck and get goin’ while the gettin’s-

POLICE show up out of THIN AIR to arrest the COMMIES.

ALDEN EHRENREICH

So my role in this here film could have been filled by George Clooney’s Uber driver? Willickers, Coens, at least the point of Llewyn Davis was how pointless it all was!

INT. JOSH’S OFFICE

The plot having successfully RESOLVED ITSELF with ZERO INTERVENTION from the MAIN CHARACTER, JOSH sits around and THINKS.

JOSH BROLIN

Hmm… I mean, Jesus was great, but was he really GREAT great? Tough to say…

GEORGE CLOONEY

Hey, Josh! I’m back! Man, what a wacky Thursday that was. You ever heard about this Karl Marx guy? Well, he was a big fan of opium or something, I wasn’t really paying attention, but anyway-

JOSH BROLIN

(smacks him)

GEORGE CLOONEY

Wah? Why?! I thought you only hit women!

JOSH BROLIN

Exactly.

(smacks him again)

GEORGE CLOONEY

You’re gonna cut yourself on my cheekbones, Josh.

JOSH BROLIN

That’s a risk I’m willing to take. Now, you are going to drop this commie nonsense. The world needs debonair American icons like yourself to wage eternal war with godless heathen pinko homosexuals. It is the nature of things. It is the meaning of Hollywood.

GEORGE CLOONEY

Jesus Christ…

JOSH BROLIN

Exactly.

(smacks him again)

Now go finish the Jesus movie, and make it extra super Jesus-y or I’ll get Thanos on your ass.

JOSH goes for a walk around the STUDIO when TILDA SQUARED confronts him.

TILDA SWINTON

So, Josh, it’s time for my story! Regale me with George’s kidnapping tale or I’ll publish the story about how he fucked Ralph Fiennes to get into Hollywood! Yes, because apparently that happened or something!

JOSH BROLIN

Too late, sister. Based on my fast-talky detective skills, I’ve determined your source on the story was Channing Tatum, who’s standing in the bread line to suck Joseph Stalin’s teats in Moscow as we speak. Anything you write on that topic will be dismissed as a Commie smear tactic.

TILDA SWINTON

Shit. I should have known better than to want to accomplish something in a Coen joint. Can I at least write a story about how Scarlett Johanssen is pregnant?

JOSH BROLIN

Who? Oh yeah, her. I married her off to Jonah Hill.

TILDA SWINTON

Jonah Hill was in this movie?

JOSH BROLIN

For, like, literally the one scene that was in the trailer. Frances McDormand was in here somewhere too but I blinked and missed her.

TILDA SWINTON

Damn. Foiled again!

JOSH goes one more time to CONFESSIONAL.

PRIEST

(sighs)

What is it this time, Josh?

JOSH BROLIN

Well, God tested me recently, but then he stopped doing that and everything worked out fine. I even got a job offer.

PRIEST

Did you take it?

JOSH BROLIN

No.

PRIEST

Did you learn anything at least?

JOSH BROLIN

Only that you can’t make a lousy movie to lampoon lousy movies?

PRIEST

A-fucking-men, brother.

END

This script was made possible thanks to the support of Patrons like Brad.

If you'd like to support the site, please check out our Patreon page where pledging can earn you access to an ad-free version of the site, early access to scripts, exclusive scripts, and other cool shit.


Discussion