Why Do Filmmakers Tell Audiences That Their Funniest, Raunchiest Jokes Were Cut?

The Gutter, a silly R-rated comedy, premiered this week at South by Southwest. The filmmakers hyped it up by telling us about everything they couldn’t include.

Why Do Filmmakers Tell Audiences That Their Funniest, Raunchiest Jokes Were Cut?

When the Barbie press tour began last summer, Margot Robbie gave an interview to Vogue about how she couldn’t believe their script actually got made. “A certain joke on page one sent their jaws to the floor,” the magazine said of Robbie and Tom Acklerey’s (her co-producer and husband) reaction to the very first draft of the script. “I think the first thing I said to Tom was, ‘This is so genius,’” Robbie told Vogue. “‘It is such a shame that we’re never going to be able to get this movie made.’”

Well, the movie was made—without this allegedly jaw-dropping, genius joke. Sure, I saw Barbie and was entertained, but I went into it annoyed, because I already knew I wouldn’t be hearing a life-changing joke.

This week, the co-directors of The Gutter (a very stupid but funny enough R-rated comedy that premiered at South by Southwest) pulled the same shit. “D’Acry [Carden] says maybe I think the funniest thing in the history of film,” said co-director Yassir Lester during a Q&A after the film’s premiere on Tuesday. (Lester wrote and directed the movie with his brother, Isaiah.) “And everyone was like, ‘Get rid of that.'” 

I sat there in the audience, unexpectedly annoyed; I was yet again being told about the existence of another excellent joke I would never know. (He, like Robbie, did not repeat it.)

I can’t figure out if Lester saying this is some kind of defense mechanism, in case the movie gets criticized for being boring, too safe, or just bad. Ah, well the studios wouldn’t let us put the funniest jokes in because they were too offensive! What can we do!? Or is it filmmakers patting themselves on the back, as if to say, We’re actually much funnier and much smarter than this if you can even believe. Or maybe there simply was a great joke that was cut. In which case, just tell us the fucking joke?

Carden said that, during filming, there were multiple times where she’d ask if they were “really going to say” certain lines; the Lester brothers always said, “Yeah.” But, she continued, “A lot of that didn’t make it into the movie. But in our hearts? Never forget.” Tell us one! I’m begging you!

The day before the film premiered, I spoke with the Lesters, as well as The Gutter‘s stars: Carden, Shameik Moore, Susan Sarandon, and Paul Reiser, who were a lot of fun and clearly had a blast filming this very ridiculous movie together. They all emphasized how the film’s R-rating is not from anything particularly prurient: No nudity, no sex, barely any swearing. “It’s the content,” Isiah Lester said.

I tried asking for a hint, just “one word or one phrase,” but they remained locked down because they wanted me to see it. Which, fair!

And that brings me to my review: I liked The Gutter. It’s a ridiculous premise, but it’s enjoyable watching Carden, Sarandon, and Moore be clowns together. It seems primed to become a summer release on Netflix or Hulu and will inevitably garner a very dedicated cult following. However, at times, it felt like it was merely a vessel for the Lester brothers’ years-long inside jokes. As for all the offensive jokes? They’re pretty mild. There’s definitely plenty of edgy humor, sure, but nothing that made me wonder how this movie could have possibly gotten made. (Only one movie to date has made me say that and it’s Dicks: The Musical.) Frankly, it could have been rated PG-13.

Which again prompts me to ask: What were the fucking jokes??

I really liked Barbie; I mostly liked The Gutter. But when filmmakers allude to the idea that their film was almost funnier, all it does is tell me that I’m watching a movie that could’ve been way better.

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