"And you're gonna keep playing until I get some pictures of goddam Spiderman!!"


"And you're gonna keep playing until I get some pictures of goddam Spiderman!!"

WHIPLASH

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. MUSIC SCHOOL CLASSROOM

Music student MILES TELLER is BEATING a DRUM SET like a LAZY CHRIS BROWN JOKE. Suddenly, music teacher JK SIMMONS enters.

MILES TELLER

(stops playing, like a polite person)

JK SIMMONS

Why did you stop playing?

MILES TELLER

(starts playing again)

JK SIMMONS

I didn't ask you to start playing again.

MILES TELLER

Have the mind games begun already? It seemed pretty reasonable to assume-

JK SIMMONS

Play some more.

MILES TELLER

(does)

JK SIMMONS

Stop playing.

MILES TELLER

(does)

JK SIMMONS

Do a handstand.

MILES TELLER

(does)

JK SIMMONS

Sing the national anthem of Greece in Swahili while knitting a two-tone cravat out of pure spider silk.

MILES TELLER

(does)

JK SIMMONS

Your sycophantic need to impress me is disgusting. You will always be a failure. Kill yourself.

JK leaves. MILES gains ONE FRUSTRATION POINT.

INT. MOVIE THEATER

MILES is seeing a movie with his dad, PAUL REISER.

PAUL REISER

So how are you liking music school, Miles?

MILES TELLER

It's terrible. I blew my one and only chance with JK Simmons, the greatest bandleader in the history of audible noise. I should just resign myself to a lifetime of being a devastatingly superior drummer, rather than an incredibly superior drummer.

PAUL REISER

Oh well. You could always join a rock band.

MILES TELLER

Don't even say the R-word around me. Jazz drumming is Dom Perignon in a gilded chalice, rock drumming is a diarrhea smoothie.

PAUL REISER

You're kind of a pretentious cunt, aren't you? We gotta get you a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to make you more human.

MELISSA BENOIST

(waving from the concession stand)

Sup.

MILES TELLER

Alright fine, I'll give her a shot. But I'm dumping her ass if she even breathes the words "Neil Peart".

MILES goes to school and plays in his SHITTY FRESHMAN BAND CLASS. JK appears at the DOOR.

JK SIMMONS

Listen up, maggots. I'm looking for non-shitty players for my big boy band. Remember, the music industry is a fetid cesspool of cutthroat executives, corporate sellouts, and the rare earnestly-talented artist who inevitably gets exploited by hangers on, screwed out of iTunes money, or maintains their integrity right up until they join the 27 Club. And if I flunk you out of my band, which I will do if I so much as smell a mistimed fart, you will never get to work there and have to settle for the hell of having a stable job in a better industry. Now go ahead, make my day.

The BAND plays their FUCKING HEARTS OUT.

JK SIMMONS

You should all jump off the first available bridge. Miles, you should still jump off a bridge, but I'll allow you to try to survive my band class first. Be there at exactly 5AM tomorrow. Bring your sheet music and a healthy dose of Stockholm Syndrome.

MILES TELLER

Sure thing, boss man! Since this is my big chance that I'm obsessively fixated on seizing with all the single-minded intensity of a psychotic perfectionist, I can't imagine what kind of crazy circumstances could possibly come up that would stop me from showing up at five o'clock right on the button.

(just oversleeps for no reason)

INT. PRACTICE ROOM

MILES sprints into the room SUPER LATE, only to find JK was lying and rehearsals don't even start until nine.

MILES TELLER

Shucks, another one of JK's classic mindfucks intended to drill home an important lesson. The lesson in question appears to be "JK Simmons is a sadistic prick".

MILES tunes his drums while the rest of the band shuffle in, followed by JK.

JK SIMMONS

All right everybody, so far today's rehearsal has been like inhaling fire ants through my ears, and all of your families have stopped loving you. Now let's see how much further you can fuck things up once you start actually playing.

The band PLAYS for about a BAR AND A HALF.

JK SIMMONS

HOLD IT! YOU, FAT TROMBONE PLAYER, YOU WERE OFF KEY BY HALF AN IMAGINARY SEMITONE, FUCK OFF OUT OF MY BAND! GO EAT SOME ACTUAL MUSICAL TALENT YOU LARDASS PIECE OF SHIT!!

The TROMBONE PLAYER goes home in tears.

JK SIMMONS

Ha ha, joke's on him, he was actually completely on key! But the fact that he didn't know that he was on key shows he was a tone-deaf incompetent, so fuck him.

FLAUTIST

But sir, even the most gifted music student in the world might start to doubt their own ears if a noted authority on music kept screaming about how badly-

JK SIMMONS

SHUT THE FUCK UP ALL OF YOU. No seriously, stop talking or doing things or being on screen when possible, from here on out I refuse to so much as acknowledge the existence of band members who aren't drummers. Miles, that's your cue to dazzle us. I'm sure you'll do great, buddy!

(smiles, gives thumbs-up)

MILES TELLER

Why are you trying to lower my defences by acting all buddy-buddy right now? It's not like I'd buy it for one second after you've been a total raging asshole every second of the movie so far.

JK SIMMONS

Maybe not, but it'll set up some neat trailer moments at least. Now come on, play.

MILES TELLER

(plays fantastically)

JK SIMMONS

Not bad, but it's a bit off tempo.

MILES TELLER

(plays amazingly)

JK SIMMONS

Pretty good. Still a bit wonky.

MILES TELLER

(plays perfectly)

JK SIMMONS

You're a third of a micron of a temporal unit off the rhythm I just made up in my head. Try again.

MILES TELLER

(plays flawlessly)

JK SIMMONS

That's great! And by great I mean

(whips a goddam chair at Miles' head)

MILES TELLER

What the fuck, dude! You're lucky I have lightning-fast drummer reflexes or else I'd be out a frontal lobe and you'd be knee deep in a lawsuit.

JK SIMMONS

What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch!? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class at Julliard, and I’ve been involved in numerous renditions of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, and I have over 300 performed shows!!! I am trained in jazz piano and I’m the top conductor in the entire US music industry! You are nothing to me but just another intern!! I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before in this conservatory, mark my fucking words!!!!

MILES TELLER

Wow. You're like the lovechild of Gordon Ramsay and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. I wonder if it's too late to switch to tuba.

IT IS. MILES gains THREE FRUSTRATION POINTS.

INT. ICE CREAM PARLOR

MILES is on a date with MELISSA.

MELISSA BENOIST

So what do you do?

MILES TELLER

I eat, sleep and breath drumming. Every minute of every day I have that sweet rhythm in my head. I've never once doubted my conviction to the ancient art of the cymbals and skins. I'm so rhythmic I make metronomes cry. I masturbate in compound meter.

MELISSA BENOIST

Huh. Well I'm undeclared at the moment.

MILES TELLER

Really? You mean you didn't pick a lifelong obsession before you were old enough to buy tobacco?

MELISSA BENOIST

Nah. I'm exploring my options like a normal twenty year old.

MILES TELLER

Fascinating.

MILES LOSES a FRUSTRATION POINT.

INT. BAND COMPETITION

MILES is practicing before the BIG SHOW. The main drummer, NATE LANG, approaches him.

NATE LANG

Hey, intern. Hold my sheet music for a few minutes.

MILES TELLER

(loses sheet music)

NATE LANG

Dammit Miles, you've screwed me! While I've done nothing but practice this setlist intensely day and night for the past several months, I can't play any of it from memory due to a convenient neurological condition the screenwriter just pulled out of his ass!

JK SIMMONS

Nate, I'm disgusted that you'd delegate your tasks to this brain-dead chimpanzee. Miles, you're on the main drums. I really hope you memorized literally everything we're going to play.

MILES TELLER

Yeah that's great, but first could we actually explain what did happen to the sheet music? It's not like I misplaced it, I put it in a specific place and then while my back was turned for two seconds it straight up vanished. Did somebody think it'd be fun to steal a random bunch of drum charts? Did the thing just sublimate into the aether?

(pause)

Oops, I nearly had a thought about something other than my obsession with drumming. Time to go drum some drumming on my drums!

MILES plays the concert and kills it!

JK SIMMONS

Okay, you're main drummer now.

MILES TELLER

Approval! Sweet approval! After months of literal blood, sweat and tears I've finally managed to painstakingly claw my way up to-

JK SIMMONS

On second thoughts I'm giving lead drums to some random goober I found outside.

AUSTIN STOWELL

(trips over drum set, knocks self out)

JK SIMMONS

Genius!

MILES TELLER

Okay, seriously, how far are these mind games going to go? This guy's obviously just here to make me jealous, there's no chance in hell you'd actually put him in on stage.

JK SIMMONS

OH I AM GOING TO DROP YOU LIKE THE BASS!!!

JK tortures MILES, AUSTIN, and NATE for HOURS by making them PRACTICE until they BLEED all over the DRUMS.

JK SIMMONS

Okay, you're all failures and if the building was on fire I'd save the drums first. But Miles, you were half a planck unit less pathetic than the other two. I shall allow you to continue to exist.

INT. ICE CREAM PARLOR

MILES is on another date with MELISSA.

MILES TELLER

Listen, Melissa. We have to break up. It's not you, it's me. Actually, it's totally you. Because you're not a drum set. Can you become one?

MELISSA BENOIST

No.

MILES TELLER

Then I just don't think we have a future together.

MELISSA BENOIST

Really? You're rejecting my Manic Pixie Dream Girl affections so you can keep torturing yourself for the approval of a man who reads Chinese parenting manuals for teaching tips? Seriously, that guy makes Tywin Lannister look like Mr. Rogers. JK Simmons saw V for Vendetta and went "Huh, I wonder if the PTA would let me get away with that." You really think this is the guy who can turn you into the next Buddy Rich?

MILES TELLER

Sorry, what? I was too busy counting out the syncopations in your nagging.

MELISSA BENOIST

Choke on a drumstick.

MILES gains TEN FRUSTRATION POINTS.

INT. CONCERT HALL

MILES is taking a bus to the next BIG SHOW when his bus gets a FLAT TIRE.

MILES TELLER

No problem, I'll just call a cab to

(walks into town)

come pick me up and take me to the

(goes through the entire car rental process)

WHY AM I DOING THE SLOWEST THING POSSIBLE??

He DRIVES like a MOTHERFUCKER to get there on TIME.

JK SIMMONS

Way to go, fucker. You're only fifteen minutes early. I sure hope you brought drumsticks.

MILES TELLER

(didn't)

JK SIMMONS

Okay, fuck this, Nate's back on the drum set.

MILES TELLER

Really? You mean NO ONE ELSE at this goddam JAZZ CONCERT brought a spare pair of drumsticks? Whatever, I probably left them, uh, in my car. Yes. Hold that drum stool for me, as I simply have to go out to my car for my sticks, and NOT speed like a madman back to the car rental place.

(sprinting out the door)

If I'm still not back in ten minutes, well, that just means I locked myself in my car! You probably won't believe that asstarded lie, but that's for the best because if you did believe it you'd have to conclude I was a total drooling mental defective!

JK SIMMONS

You're a drummer, people already assume that. Ba-dum tsh!

MILES burns rubber getting back to the RENTAL PLACE. He gets his DRUMSTICKS and starts driving back.

MILES TELLER

Okay, we're fine. I'll get there right on time, hop on the drum set, play my heart out, and maybe Mr. Simmons will finally be my best friend forever, and we'll play video games and go on walks and there will be rabbits and I get to tend-

TRUCK

BEEP BEEP MOTHERFUCKER!!!!

MILES gets ROLLED by a goddam SEMI. He crawls out of the WRECKAGE and STUMBLES to the PERFORMANCE.

MILES TELLER

Sorry I'm late, Mr. Simmons, I almost died, no big deal, I'm totally ready to give it my best, except for the fact that I'm bleeding profusely and covered in bruises and both my hands are numb and probably fractured and I'm pretty sure my neck has a bad case of WHIPLASH ha ha ha ha anyway I'm totally ready to do some jazz let's get started!

JK SIMMONS

While you look like you just crawled out of your own grave and anyone can see you probably won't make it through a tenth of a song before your arms fall off, I'll go ahead and let you start playing anyway because I can't pass up an opportunity to see you fail.

MILES begins playing INCREDIBLY WELL for somebody whose entire skeleton has been dislocated. Which is to say he remains mostly conscious and manages to occasionally make the drumsticks connect with the drums.

JK SIMMONS

You sicken me. You're fired.

MILES TELLER

Well just call me Mike D.

JK SIMMONS

Why?

MILES TELLER

Because I'm BUDDY RICH WHEN I FLY OFF THE HANDLE!!!!!

MILES gains FIFTY THOUSAND FRUSTRATION POINTS which he channels into BEATING THE SHIT out of JK SIMMONS. The other BANDMATES pull him off.

JK SIMMONS

What a pathetic attempt at violence. Half of those uppercuts weren't even on tempo. Get your shit together, Miles.

INT. ROOM

MILES is speaking to his FATHER and a LAWYER.

PAUL REISER

Jesus, kid, why didn't you tell me JK Simmons was a first class nutjob?

MILES TELLER

Because I want to be the very best. Like no one ever was.

LAWYER

You should consider suing. I represent a family who want him fired. Their son was a professional jazz trumpeter who committed suicide, and they blame it on the fact that a bunch of years previously JK said a bunch of mean stuff to him.

MILES TELLER

That sounds exactly as flimsy as telling a court it was JK's fault I got hurt, and not my fault for speeding through a red light while talking on the phone. JK was just trying to inspire me! Through abuse!

PAUL REISER

Because that worked out so well for Michael Jackson. Kid, be mediocre and happy. It's time to hang up the drum sticks.

MILES drops out of school and spends the next few months working a SHITTY CASHIER JOB. One day he sees JK playing piano in a bar.

JK SIMMONS

So I got fired. Apparently the school wanted an approach to education that was more Magic School Bus and less Machiavelli. The pansies.

MILES TELLER

But why, JK? I had talent! I could have been the next Gene Krupa!

JK SIMMONS

All of that abuse was just to push you into being perfect. Kids these days need pushing, and by pushing I of course mean constant discouragement and abuse. After all, without a lifetime of being told he was a worthless piece of shit, how could Charlie Parker have ever developed his musical genius/alcoholic depression?

MILES TELLER

True. Why, if a talented musician only received praise and adulation their whole life, they could only ever wind up being mediocre, like that total hack Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. OF COURSE somebody can reach their full potential without being traumatized! And even if they couldn't, isn't running a music program which destroys all but the once-in-a-generation geniuses just a bit of a psychotic-

JK SIMMONS

Jesus, you have fallen far. I can't bear to watch this. I will admit that somewhere deep in the gravity well of the neutron star that is your worthlessness there may or may not be some microscopic shimmer of talent urging to break free. Miles, I'm going to give you one more chance.

MILES TELLER

(Stockholm Syndrome)

Really?

JK SIMMONS

Sure, and don't think about the fact that last time I gave you even a little bit of praise it was just a deceptive prelude to trying to brain you with a chair. I'm leading a jazz concert in a month. We're playing all the old standards. You should drum for us.

MILES TELLER

(getting the shakes)

Oh shit, I should really call my sponsor.

JK SIMMONS

Give in, Miles. Fall off the wagon. Take a big snort of pure rhythm. It makes the pain go away.

MILES TELLER

(relapsing)

I'm in. I know you're not fucking with me, I mean after your recent career setback you wouldn't sabotage this important concert just to get petty revenge, surely.

JK SIMMONS

(rubs hands slowly, cackling)

INT. CONCERT HALL

MILES is ready to perform at the show.

JK SIMMONS

All right band, before we go out there let's just establish that this concert is some kind of permanent no-takebacks affair that will define your careers forever and ever. Apparently the president of music is in the audience or something, and if you fuck up here then for the rest of your life you won't be able to get hired to so much as run a concession stand at a Nickelback concert. Understood? All right, let's jazz.

They go out on STAGE.

JK SIMMONS

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to an evening of classic jazz numbers that Miles has played a billion times. But first we're going to play a completely original song Miles has never heard of called "Fuck You Miles, Fuck You to Death with a Battering Ram" by the composer HA HA HA HA HA.

MILES TELLER

Oh you psychotic fuck.

JK SIMMONS

And a-one, and a-two!

MILES flails his way through a SONG that wasn't on the SETLIST, showing surprisingly little improvisation skill for a virtuoso jazz musician. For an encore he FLEES THE STAGE like a BITCH.

PAUL REISER

Alright Miles, it's over. Your career will never recover from that. You're just as mediocre as me. Let's go catch a flick.

MILES TELLER

No. I'm sorry. I'm just not cut out for mediocrity and happiness. I have to drum, even if it means being sad and lonely and insane.

MILES storms back ONSTAGE.

JK SIMMONS

So since I haven't had a backup drummer come out, apparently we're fucking up the entire concert with completely drumless renditions of-

(notices Miles)

Oho, so the lily-livered pansy wants to go for round two? Alright fine, let's try some-

MILES TELLER

(drums ecstatically)

JK SIMMONS

Okay, so you're just going to play? That's fine. I can work with-

MILES TELLER

(drums psychotically)

JK SIMMONS

Wow. I'm finding very few things I can insult about that perform-

MILES TELLER

(drums, just, really, really, REALLY well, for like fifteen minutes, until he starts sweating, crying, bleeding and orgasming all at once, and the drums transform into massive dragons and take wing, and he leaps towards them wielding golden swords made of drumsticks to do battle in the ethereal realm that is Jazz)

JK SIMMONS

I'm not going to lie. Despite the fact that you are a putrid wank stain floating on the scummy surface of the human gene pool, that was actually not the worst thing I've ever heard.

MILES TELLER

Approval!

JK SIMMONS

Okay guys, let's play some Rush!

MILES TELLER

Dammit.

MILES gains ALL the CRAZY POINTS.

END

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