We thought we'd seen the worst possible cinematic Garfield. We were fools.

CATS

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

FRANCESCA HAYWARD is an ENTITY. She is quickly surrounded by other ENTITIES which look like they’re about to MURDER HER. The various ENTITIES flail about doing what is maybe meant to be a DANCE, in time with crazed spiralling sounds which is maybe meant to be MUSIC.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Oh sweet mercy, what am I? What are WE?! We look like furries who just got a wish granted by a really mean-spirited genie. We’re less than one minute in and it’s already clear that this movie was a horrible horrible mistake.

MONSTERS

(to the tune of “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”)

Does your face not quite fit?

Do your shoulders gyrate?

Does your lighting note quite

Match the rest of the scene?

Do your ears move all weird?

Are your textures all off?

Is the edge of your head

Not composited well?

You’re a terrible cat

We’re terrible too!

We’re a whole bunch of terrible cats!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Swell. Look, I can’t quite figure out your body language. Do you guys want to eat me or fuck me?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Unclear! We just pretty much always act like this.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

You mean like a high school drama class got told to be cats for an acting exercise, and they just REALLY went for it?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Pretty much! Now, moving on, let us explain the convoluted Skullduggery Pleasant-type rules by which each cat has three separate names.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Oh really? What are your three names, then?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Oh, no, nobody actually has more than one name in this movie, that’s just a thing we sing at the beginning of the movie for what turns out to be no reason. My one singular name is...

(mumbles)

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

(sighs)

"Mister Mistoffelees". Yes, with the crappy spelling and everything. But in my defence everybody around here has a fucking stupid name like that, they’re all like "Munkustrap" and "Rumpleteazer" and "Bombalurina" and "Rum Tum Tugger" and-

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Wow, okay, you know what? Maybe we can forget about the worldbuilding, it’s clearly not our strong suit. Let’s just get on with the story.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Ah yes, the story. The... story.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

...This movie does have a story, doesn’t it?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Sort of? Basically we want to see who wins at the Jellicle Ball.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

All right, with you so far. What’s the Jellicle Ball?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

It’s this annual thing where all the jellicle cats get together.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

What’s a jellicle cat?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

We’re jellicle cats.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Sure, but what IS a jellicle cat?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Jellicle cats are jellicle cats. Like the song said, jellicle can and jellicle do.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(frustrated)

They can and do WHAT?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Jellicle actions, presumably. The point is, tonight there’s a jellicle moon, so the jellicle cats are coming to the Jellicle Ball to find out who will be the jellicle choice.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

I don’t... is this Smurf language? I’m so confused.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

If it helps, think of it as like a creepy nightmare-cat version of The Voice. A bunch of us are gonna sing about what kind of cat we are, then one of us wins a new life.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

A "new life"? How? What does that entail?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

God, I dunno, everything’s so vague and unexplained around here. I don’t even know why everyone’s trying to get this new life thing in the first place, all the contestants seem pretty contented with the lives they’ve already got. Let’s just meet our first contestant, Rebel Wilson.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Ugh, is she still a thing?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Maybe not after this movie.

INT. LIVING ROOM

FRANCESCA and LAURIE and most of the CHORUS go into a HOUSE to behold REBEL WILSON.

REBEL WILSON

Hey there everybody! I’m a gumbie cat!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(sighs)

What’s a gumbie cat, then? How is it distinct from a jellicle cat?

REBEL WILSON

Oh, I’m a jellicle cat too. I’m jellicle and gumbie at the same time!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

WORDS ARE SUPPOSED TO MEAN THINGS.

REBEL WILSON

(to the tune of "The Old Gumbie Cat")

So if you need proof that they made this on drugs

I will now devour some creepy humanoid bugs!

And worse, the effects guys that made this part went

With some worse-looking roaches than Joe’s Apartment!

(eats sapient insects alive)

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Well this is horrifying on every conceivable level. Show me the next contestant, they can’t be any worse than this.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

The next contestant is Jason Derulo.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Ugh, is HE still a thing?

They LEAVE. Suddenly, IDRIS ELBA shows up.

IDRIS ELBA

Hi there, Rebel! I’m a downright vicious and evil cat, and therefore the most recognizable cat in the movie. I’m here to put you out of commission for the Jellicle Ball!

REBEL WILSON

Gasp! Are you going to knock me out or tie me up or something?

IDRIS ELBA

Nope, I’m gonna zap you away with my completely unexplained teleportation powers!

REBEL WILSON

Wait what the fuck are you-

(disappears)

INT. MILK BAR

The general MIASMA of CAT CREATURES wanders over to see the next half-baked excuse for a musical number, JASON DERULO.

JASON DERULO

Ja-SON De-RU-lo!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Yes. Yes you are. Do I have to listen to Jason Derulo sing now? I’m just saying, I have carefully set-up preferences on Spotify to avoid this specific situation.

JASON DERULO

Aw, it’s not so bad. This way you get all of my charisma and none of my songwriting incompetence!

(to the tune of "The Rum Tum Tugger")

Jason Derulo is a talentless hack!

About half of my lyrics discussing my dong

All the confidence and strut of an Elvis in his prime

But the samples are the one decent part of all my songs

A high-pitched mewling voice, and I’m yowling all the time

So to cast me as a cat isn’t really that far wrong!

Jason Derulo is a talentless hack!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Mm hm, next, next please. I know I said this last time, but surely the NEXT cat has to be a step up.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

It’s James Corden.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

UGH, is HE still a thing?! Why have none of these people just gone away already?

EXT. ALLEY

They all go to watch JAMES CORDEN do HIS BIT.

JAMES CORDEN

Hi folks! Hey, remember The Cat in the Hat? Well have you ever thought, that movie’s great and all, but it’d be even better if the narrative was less coherent and it had a more smug and irritating lead actor?

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Nobody has ever thought that. Can I give you money to make that not happen?

JAMES CORDEN

Nope!

(to the tune of "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town")

Hey checkit, I’m fat

Let’s sing about that

And also I… wander around?

It’s not much, and yet

It’s all that I get

These skits aren’t exactly profound.

IDRIS ELBA

(showing up)

Surprise! I’mma make you disappear too!

(vanishes James)

Huzzah, my chances in the competition get better and better! I don’t know how else I could ever have beaten such impressive acts as "I’m fat" and "I eat live cockroaches".

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Hey, is this all that’s going to happen in this movie? We just introduce a cat, mention like two of their quirks, then introduce the next cat, and so on and so on? That’s not a story! That’s like being trapped on a bus sitting next to an old lady who owns fifteen cats and really wants to explain to you how they all have their own little personalities!

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Actually it’s like being trapped on a bus sitting next to a Nobel Prize-winning poet who owns fifteen cats and wants to write a whole book of poems about how they all have their own little personalities. And then a theatre composer has some kind of serious neurological event and decides to set all those poems to music and have grown men and women prance around in cat makeup singing about being cats. And then, due to what can only have been some kind of pact with the devil, that show becomes the longest-running show in Broadway history and makes billions of dollars, and decades later an Oscar-winning director decides to make a movie out of it, but then somehow manages to forget every single thing he ever knew about filmcraft before it enters production.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Man, even behind the scenes this thing makes absolutely no sense. Anyway, fuck this, I’m taking a break from all the character-introduction bullshit. Is there some kind of random, entirely unrelated thing I can go off and do for a while?

DANNY COLLINS

You can come help us commit a bunch of crimes!

NAOIMH MORGAN

Yeah, we’re a couple of sociopaths, we’re about to go rob and vandalize some houses. Wanna come with?

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Me? The sweet, innocent, good-natured waif? You want me to come join you in wanton theft and destruction of property?

(pause)

Feh, the hell with it, why not. Might as well throw consistent characterization on the bonfire along with everything else.

(to the tune of "In the Summertime")

I’ll commit some crime

Although usually I’m

Nice and well-behaved

Pretty much all the time

I’ll just do some crime

For no reason, for no reason and no rhyme...

She becomes a PSYCHOTIC DELINQUENT for all of one scene, then returns to what passes for a STORY around these parts.

INT. BALLROOM

The various ABOMINATIONS gather for the JELLICLE BALL.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Okay, now that that total non sequitir is over, I guess it’s about time we introduced the cat who’s going to be deciding who will win the competition!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Geez, given the cast so far, I hate to imagine what annoying no-talent piece of shit we’ve got in charge of this whole debacle. Who is it, Justin Bieber? Kevin James?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

It’s beloved Shakespearean actress and immortal icon of stage and screen, Dame Judi Dench!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(pause)

(brain breaks)

JUDI DENCH

(to the tune of "Old Deuteronomy")

Holy shit, guys, this is confusing

Why in the fuck am I here?

My star may be dwindling, but even so

I just have to ask, what have they got on me?

Are there pics of me doing treason?

Maybe they kidnapped my kids?

There’s no other logical way I’d do this

I’m not kidding, guys, what have they got on me?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

But wait, you’re not the only respected British thespian who’s slumming it in this turd! Behold our next contestant, Sir Ian McKellen!

JUDI DENCH

Oh, Ian, no. Are they presumably blackmailing you too?

IAN MCKELLEN

(smiling)

Nope! I’m here on purpose! Meow meow meow, look at me, I’m a kitty cat, rawr!

(makes paw hands, strokes whiskers)

JUDI DENCH

...Holy fuck. You’re enjoying this.

IAN MCKELLEN

That’s right! It’s abundantly clear that I know I’m in a humongous piece of garbage and I’m having the time of my life!

JUDI DENCH

Well, I guess at least one person got some kind of enjoyment out of this movie.

IAN MCKELLEN

Yup! Now come on, let’s do my song, "Gus: The Theatre Cat", about...

(reads lyrics)

(smile fades)

...how I used to be a notable actor and important presence in the theatre, but nowadays I’m old and creaky and well past my prime? Oof, THAT hits a bit too close to home. Forget it, I’m out, just have Idris vanish me already.

IDRIS ELBA

Don’t mind if I do!

(vanishes Ian)

LAURIE DAVIDSON

All right then, let’s just skip ahead to our next contestant, Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

The FUCK did you just say?

LAURIE DAVIDSON

(to the tune of "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat")

We-

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

NO. SHUT UP. FUCK OFF. I’ve put up with a LOT of idiotic fucking names and lame characters and precious cutesy lyrics in this movie, but I draw the line at watching you guys sing about something called SKIMBLESHANKS THE FUCKING RAILWAY CAT. I mean, WHAT. The FUCK. Is a RAILWAY CAT.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Okay, geez, Idris can just zap him gone too I guess.

IDRIS ELBA

(vanishes Skimbleshanks)

This is sure saving us some time!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Sure is! In fact, maybe we can just keep skipping ALL the songs at this rate! Idris can just keep teleporting away all the contestants and we can be out of here in five minutes. What do you say, Idris?

IDRIS ELBA

The next contestant is me.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Damnit! Oh well, at least this song isn’t going to be performed by another annoying overexposed celebrity.

IDRIS ELBA

And to sing my song for me, here’s Taylor Swift!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

FUUUUCK

TAYLOR SWIFT

(to the tune of "Macavity")

Well Idris Elba’s meant to be

The Oscar-worthy type

Prestigious and respectable

According to the hype

They act like his integrity

Is high beyond compare

But if you check IMDb

The meaty roles aren’t there!

Pacific Rim, Prometheus

Dark Tower, Ghost Rider 2

These are the kind of projects

That he seems to like to do

All sci-fi villains, Disney voices

Superhero fare

Except a couple TV shows

The quality’s not there!

IDRIS ELBA

Ta-da! And here I am to accept the prize by default!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(shielding eyes)

Oh GOD! What happened to the hat and coat you’ve been wearing all movie? You’re NAKED!

IDRIS ELBA

Well of course I’m naked. I’m a cat. We’re all naked.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(looks down at self)

...I... I’m suddenly very aware of that fact...

(looks around at entire cast)

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

IDRIS ELBA

Yes well anyway, I just blatantly cheated at this competition and then had somebody else sing about what an asshole I am. That means I win, yes?

JUDI DENCH

God no! It’s very unclear by what arbitrary criteria I declare a winner of this thing, but that sure as shit ain’t it.

IDRIS ELBA

FINE! In that case I’ll teleport YOU away and then KILL YOU if you don’t give me the prize! Probably would have been a lot quicker to just do that in the first place.

He DISAPPEARS along with JUDI.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

Oh no! Hey Laurie, can you bring her back? You do magic, right? That’s your little gimmick?

LAURIE HAYWARD

Erm, I’m a stage magician. You know, sawing women in half? Pulling rabbits out of hats? It’s a different thing from a wizard. Did you not know that?

(brightens)

Ooh, but this is a lame movie. Sometimes in lame movies you can grow magic powers if you just Believe In Yourself. Quick Francesca, everybody, sing my annoying thirty-second jingle at me so I can get confident!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

What if that doesn’t work, though?

LAURIE HAYWARD

Then just do it again! And again, and again! Each time acting like it’s a whole inspired new idea somehow, even though you’re just chanting the one cheesy song over and over and over for like five minutes of screentime, until it’s stuck in the audience’s head forever and they want to take a power drill to their skulls to dig it out!

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(sighs)

Worth a shot, I suppose.

(to the tune of “Mister Mistoffelees”)

This song gets grating, irritating

We’re just waiting for this scene to end

Can you stop it, please?

This song gets grating, irritating

We’re just waiting for this scene to end

Can you stop it, please?

This song gets grating, irritating

We’re just waiting for this scene to end

Can you stop it, please?

(repeat 1000x)

This FAILS, then FAILS, then FAILS, then FAILS, and just when it seems to have FAILED for the ONE BILLIONTH TIME...

JUDI DENCH

Yoohoo! Here I am behind you, I reappeared where you couldn’t see me! I choose to believe that this thing worked on the first try and I’ve just been sitting back here laughing at you.

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Hooray! And hey, by miraculously pulling magical powers out of my ass and saving your life, maybe I’ve proven that I should be the jellicle choice!

JUDI DENCH

No, for some reason that thought never seems to even occur to me. I guess I’ll have to pick one of the other contestants... should I pick the fat one? The lazy one? The criminal one who tried to murder me? Sheesh, I might have to give it to that railway guy for lack of better options.

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

No, hang on! Lemme just grab some homeless cat off the street outside and you can choose them instead.

(leaves, returns with Jennifer Hudson)

See, remember her? She had like a scene and a half of screentime already, which makes her just about the most developed character in the whole damn movie! Come on, Jennifer, sing something. And please please PLEASE let it be "Memory", we all know that while that song hasn’t played yet the movie still has to keep going...

JENNIFER HUDSON

Don’t worry, I’ll put us all out of our misery.

(to the tune of "Memory")

End, please!

I’m so done with this bullshite!

Let’s all leave and then never

Watch this garbage again!

It’s been baffling, an ugly, weird, unwatchable mess

Let the movie fucking end!

JUDI DENCH

Hmmm, well that was a generic ballad which could have come from pretty much any musical, and you lose a lot of points for all the gross snotty crying. But it still was basically the highlight of the movie, so screw it, you win the prize!

JENNIFER HUDSON

YAAYYYY!!

JUDI DENCH

Which apparently consists of being shoved into a hot air balloon and floated off in a random direction! Congrats!

JENNIFER HUDSON

BOOOOOO

(spaced)

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

That’s it! It’s over! Where’s the nearest exit, I gotta get the fuck out of here-

LAURIE DAVIDSON

Not yet, first there’s this new song we’ve added in that Taylor wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber about-

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

PLEEEAAASE NOOOO. JUST LET ME OUT OF HERE. It’s, I, I just, this movie has been so confusing, and vague, and weird, and creepy, and empty of anything resembling recognizable logic or behaviour, it’s been an assault on my very grasp on reality! I-I-I’m holding onto my sanity by the slenderest thread man, just let me go let me go LET ME GO!!!

JUDI DENCH

But before the movie ends I need to sit down and directly talk to the audience for several minutes about such sensible concepts as "cats are not dogs" and-

FRANCESCA HAYWARD

(snaps)

Heh heh heh ha ha ha ha HEE HEE HO HO HOOOO HA HAAAAAA

(tears out own fur in clumps)

jellicle jellicle jellicle

(sprints wildly towards the horizon, baying at the moon)

JUDI DENCH

(smiles)

She truly is a jellicle cat.

(pause)

Oh by the way, "jellicle" means "incoherent", if that clears anything up.

END.

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