Neel's friends were no longer laughing at his idea for "doing Pokémon, but like, real".


Neel's friends were no longer laughing at his idea for "doing Pokémon, but like, real".

THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016)

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. JUNGLE

Prepubescent boy NEEL SETHI runs around an empty room in his underwear while a bunch of grown men film him VERY UNCOMFORTABLY. Eventually some CGI artists save the day by sticking in some WOLVES, and a PANTHER voiced by BEN KINGSLEY.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Damnit, Neel, you’re supposed to be learning how to be a wolf, but for some weird reason you consistently fail to sprint at forty miles an hour! And you SUCK at dragging down gazelles, tearing their throats out and gnawing the still-warm flesh off their bones! Just be a damn wolf already!

NEEL SETHI

I don’t get it, why are you in charge of my wolf training? Shouldn’t that sort of thing be handled by my adoptive dad? You know, the wolf?

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Look, if we give that guy more than half a dozen lines then his death scene might actually have any kind of impact at all, and the last thing we want is for this movie to feel like it has dramatic weight.

They head on over to the WATERING HOLE, where they run afoul of EVIL TIGER IDRIS ELBA.

CGI IDRIS ELBA

A human being? What’s the meaning of this?! You know having humans in the jungle is against our vaguely-referenced jungle law!

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

You’re one to talk about breaking jungle law, what with your tendency to murder animals for fun!

NEEL SETHI

Say, if there really is law in the jungle, and “the wolf that shall break it must die”, maybe we should, I dunno, kill Idris? I mean if he’s a serial killer and all... kinda seems like a pretty serious crime to me...

CGI IDRIS ELBA

Look guys, I sort of hate all humans because of a bad experience I had with one once. I was stuck on that raft with him for like six months, then it turned out I was just a metaphor! So I’m gonna murder Neel once the drought is over. Laters!

(leaves)

NEEL SETHI

Okay, now he’s actually declaring future appointments for committing murder! I know you guys are all afraid of fighting a tiger, but couldn’t we ask an elephant to step on him or something? Or, hell, get the other tigers to do him in, just ENFORCE THE FUCKING LAW, GUYS.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Nope, not doing that. I’ll just take you to a human village whose location I’m aware of. God knows why I didn’t just take you there when you were a baby, instead of leaving you with a bunch of wolves.

NEEL SETHI

All right, let’s go then. Bye, Wolf Mom and Wolf Dad! I’ll miss you, even though you had almost no screen time!

NEEL and BEN (hey, did you know panthers are just jaguars or leopards born with the opposite of albinism? Not relevant, nor a joke, I just really like that animal fact) head off on the journey towards the HUMAN VILLAGE. But halfway there, IDRIS catches up to them!

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Oh no! Run, Neel! I’ll fight Idris so you can get away, and also so I have a better excuse for getting separated from you than the cartoon’s “just abandoning a child in the jungle” shenanigans!

NEEL SETHI

All right, and to aid my escape I’ll hitch a ride on some test footage for the live-action remake of The Lion King, which you fucking KNOW is inevitable at this stage.

He gets away by getting rammed by the horns of a BUFFALO that is CHARGING AT FULL SPEED, somehow without DYING.

EXT. WOLF DEN

IDRIS goes back to confront NEEL’S WOLF PARENTS, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO and LUPITA NYONG’O.

CGI IDRIS ELBA

You assholes, I told you I wanted to KILL your adoptive son! But then you go and pull a completely unforeseeable stunt like getting him to safety? Well I certainly won’t give you such convenient advanced warnings next time I murder your family members, I can tell you that much!

CGI GIANCARLO ESPOSITO

I still don’t understand why you didn’t just murder him at the time instead of making fancy decrees. I mean, he was right there.

CGI IDRIS ELBA

But there was a truce on because of the drought, and apparently that’s the ONE law I arbitrarily respect. Speaking about breaking any other damn law I feel like:

IDRIS murders GIANCARLO!

CGI LUPITA NYONG’O

GIANCARLO NOOOOO although I guess he was already an adult when Neel was a baby, which would have made him about a hundred in wolf years, so it’s amazing that he was alive at all BUT STIIIILLLL

EXT. TREE

NEEL is resting in a TREE when he is approached by a giant PYTHON, SCARLETT JOHANSSON.

NEEL SETHI

Oh hello, Scarlett. Still humoring Jon Favreau’s embarrassingly obvious crush on you, huh?

CGI SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Partly that. Mostly I’m still on my quest to find a role that doesn’t have the men in the audience saying “but I still would”. Apparently they’d do me if I was a desktop computer, or a drug-induced telekinetic god-consciousness, or a man-devouring obsidian extraterrestrial wearing human skin. Let’s see if they draw the line at a murderous snake in a children’s movie!

NEEL SETHI

So anyway, I gather from your just showing up apropos of nothing, that we’re redoing the cartoon’s plot structure of random encounter - random encounter - random encounter - random encounter - movie stops?

CGI SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Ah, but you see, we’ve managed to disguise it by giving each disconnected sequence at least one piece of plot-related exposition to make it seem barely relevant. For instance, I will now tell you your own backstory, which I know and you don’t for some reason.

(flashbacks)

Once your dad was hanging in some cave in the jungle alone with his infant son for whatever the hell reason. Idris showed up and killed him, but in the fight got burned with fire and ran away without eating you. Then Ben found you and took you to the wolves.

NEEL SETHI

Why didn’t Ben just eat me? Killing and eating vulnerable innocent creatures is something that he does all the time in order to not die, after all.

CGI SCARLETT JOHANSSON

Yes but you’re a human being and therefore your life has meaning. Not to me, of course!

(smothers Neel in gravy)

But then NEEL is saved by a BEAR played by BILL MURRAY!

NEEL SETHI

Why if it isn’t my third father figure! As I understand it, you’re the loveable one?

CGI BILL MURRAY

That’s right, kid! And for my first loveable act I will emotionally blackmail you into doing a bunch of child labor which will POSSIBLY kill you, and DEFINITELY get you stung by hundreds of bees. Go harvest me some cliff honey!

NEEL develops a HONEY-GATHERING SYSTEM involving RUDIMENTARY SAWS and ELABORATE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING and a sophistocated RIG and HARNESS.

NEEL SETHI

Are you seeing this?! I, a thirteen-year-old who has never witnessed manmade tools, single-handedly invented rope and serrated blades and all kinds of shit! I’m a goddamn technological genius! Man, if I’d been raised in civilization, twenty-first century humans would be driving hovercars on the moon, just saying.

CGI BILL MURRAY

This exploitative relationship endears you to me, kid! Let’s bond by singing “The Bare Necessities”, even though this isn’t a musical and forcing a song in here is jarring and inappropriate.

NEEL and BILL become CLOSE PALS. But then one day BEN shows up.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Neel! You’re using human skills to harvest honey? I’m massively disappointed in you!

NEEL SETHI

Uh oh. Are you mad because I cut down every last honeycomb and destroyed the colony, showing thoughtlessly unsustainable man-like behavior rather than living in balance with nature like the jungle creatures do?

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

No, that would be an entirely reasonable point to make, but instead I’m just adopting a stodgy “tool use is not the fashion in these parts, HARRUMPH” attitude, meaning that somehow I’M the one who has to come around on this issue.

(takes Bill aside)

By the way, Bill, why the hell have you not gotten Neel to safety? Didn’t he mention the giant tiger coming to eat him?

CGI BILL MURRAY

That seems to have completely slipped his mind somehow.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Well he can’t stay here, it’s not safe! Go and reason honestly with him. Or better yet, tell him that you were only using him the whole time and now he has to fuck off, just to needlessly break his heart and destroy his ability to trust anyone ever again.

CGI BILL MURRAY

Aww, but he and I were gonna be a team! I was thinking I could buy a seaplane, start a cargo delivery service, and Neel could learn how to air surf on a collapsible boomerang-

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

JUST GO AND MAKE HIM RUN RANDOMLY OFF INTO THE DANGEROUS JUNGLE ALREADY.

CGI BILL MURRAY

Sheesh, fine.

BILL traumatizes NEEL, who runs away and is immediately abducted by A MILLION MONKEYS.

INT. TEMPLE RUINS

NEEL is brought into Monkey Headquarters.

NEEL SETHI

Ooh, now must be the part where I meet the orangutan, King Louie! Sweet, I love that singy, dancy, eccentrically upbeat little rapscallion-

CGI CHRISTOPHER WALKEN

(sinisterly)

I am. A twelve-foot tall mafiOso. VOICED. By Christopher WALken.

NEEL SETHI

...Ooookay. I guess we won’t be seeing THIS glowering monstrosity put a banana peel on his head and sing a catchy jazz number.

CGI CHRISTOPHER WALKEN

(with death in his eyes)

Oh, we’re still... DOing, the SONG.

NEEL SETHI

Whaaat.

CGI CHRISTOPHER WALKEN

(singing)

(with soul-crushing malevolence)

YOU-ou-ou... I wanna BE... like YOU. Ou. Ou.

NEEL SETHI

OH GOD STOP IT THIS IS ALL WRONG.

Suddenly, BEN and BILL swoop in!

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Neel! Thank God you weren’t killed while Bill was wasting like half an hour trying to climb a cliff instead of letting me go on ahead. Let’s get out of here!

NEEL, BEN and BILL amscray!

CGI CHRISTOPHER WALKEN

Wait! You didn’t GET your... one bit of expoSItion that JUStifies this scene existing! Neel, your. Dad. Got killed by Idris.

NEEL SETHI

Say WHAT now?! BLARGH! REVEEENGE! MUST! KILL! IDRIS! I know, I’ll go get some fire! The same stuff that my adult, experienced-with-fire dad tried to use against Idris but instead he got his face clawed off!

NEEL runs to the HUMAN VILLAGE and swipes a TORCH.

NEEL SETHI

Hmmm, what have I been told about fire by every character that’s mentioned it so far this movie? That it’s an incredibly dangerous portable apocalypse that... somethings... everything it touches.

(thinks)

“Deploys”, was it? I think they said it deploys everything it touches. Well that’s not so bad! I’ll just keep it away from anything I don’t want deployed. Easy peasy!

He runs off to face IDRIS.

NEEL SETHI

All right, Idris! You’ve killed so many creatures, but now, as the most evil and destructive force in this movie, it’s time for you to face-

CGI IDRIS ELBA

Dude, you just set like the entire jungle on fire.

NEEL SETHI

(turns and looks)

AWW FUUUUCK.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Our homes... burning! Hundreds of animals... presumably dying horribly! All because you selfishly did some of that human crap we’ve been warning you against ALL FUCKING MOVIE! YOU INCOMPETENT MASS-MURDERING FUCKSHIT!

NEEL SETHI

Well, uh, what if instead of killing Idris with this torch, however the hell I intended to do that, I throw it in the river? Then we’ll be cool, right?

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

You mean do something that’s ALSO incredibly reckless, since water might be the most flammable substance in the world as far as you know? That’s supposed to make everything better?

CGI LUPITA NYONG’O

Yes, sparing the life of a vicious murderer we all hate, that’s going to make up for causing a miniature armageddon, is it? You think that within minutes of committing this atrocity, this single token gesture will make us let bygones be bygones while our home is still burning in front of our eyes?!

NEEL SETHI

Yeah.

CGI LUPITA NYONG’O

(pause)

Well okay. All is forgiven! Now let’s ignore that giant fire that’s currently raging and focus on the bigger issue, which is that we need to stop Idris from killing our best pal Neel!

CGI IDRIS ELBA

WHAT?! This is the guy you’ll finally stick your neck out for? I’ve spent my whole life in an uncontrolled murder frenzy while you sat by with your thumbs up your asses, but NOW you’ll fight me? To protect the moron who just torched the whole fucking jungle?! Fine, let’s do this thing!

CGI LUPITA NYONG’O

All right, wolves, we’ve been terrorized by this asshole for years and he murdered our leader, now we finally get the chance to-

CGI BILL MURRAY

No wait, I claim the big trailer-friendly fight! Me, the guy who’s seemingly never even met Idris until right now!

IDRIS and BILL go at it! BEN and LUPITA and the OTHER BIG STRONG ANIMALS utterly fail to JOIN IN, even though together they would EASILY OVERWHELM AND KILL IDRIS in like ONE MINUTE.

NEEL SETHI

Gee, I wish I could help, but after I won everyone’s trust back by tossing that torch away and symbolically renouncing human trickery, I kinda got nothing.

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

There’s one thing you can do: kill Idris with human trickery!

NEEL SETHI

Huh? But I just - didn’t we just make a big point of - I don’t-

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

I know, I know, who the fuck can figure out WHAT statement we’ve been trying to make. Just murder the bad guy already.

NEEL SETHI

All right! I’ll lure him into the burning jungle, where I won’t die from smoke inhalation somehow!

(runs into fire)

Hey, Idris! Neener neener neener! I think the Norse gods should all be Nordic, ya jerk!

CGI IDRIS ELBA

Oh you little - get back here!

IDRIS pursues NEEL into the blazing jungle.

NEEL SETHI

(luring Idris towards weird hollow tree)

A Netflix movie shouldn’t have been eligible for the Oscars in the first place!

CGI IDRIS ELBA

Fuck you we had a qualifying run it totally counts!!

NEEL SETHI

(luring Idris up tree)

Even if Daniel Craig quits immediately, by the time the next movie goes into production you’ll be too old to start playing Bond!

CGI IDRIS ELBA

I NEVER EVEN EXPRESSED INTEREST IN THE ROLE, EVERYBODY SHUT UP ABOUT THAT!!

NEEL SETHI

(luring Idris out onto rotten branch)

YOU WERE IN PROMETHEUS!

CGI IDRIS ELBA

DIIIIEEEE!!!!

The BRANCH collapses underneath IDRIS and he plunges into the FIRE, while NEEL leaps onto a previously-arranged ROPE THING.

NEEL SETHI

Huzzah, I burned him to death! But not with a torch, which would have been wrong, somehow.

With IDRIS dealt with, NEEL finally goes to live in the HUMAN VILLAGE. He uses his AMAZING INTELLECT to MASSIVELY ADVANCE HUMAN TECHNOLOGY, and uses his ability to COMMUNICATE WITH ANIMALS to UNITE ALL SPECIES, and the WORLD becomes a UTOPIA of UNIMAGINABLE-

CGI BEN KINGSLEY

Fuck THAT. We’ve got sequels to consider, so Neel just stays in the jungle and farts around with wolf cubs for the rest of his life.

Never mind then.

END.

...Meanwhile, in a motion-capture studio in England...

ANDY SERKIS

SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT.

END.

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