Incredible First Draft Comedy Scripts We Kinda Want To See
Listen, we’re not saying we don’t appreciate the bonkers story of a ‘70s newsroom who idolizes a guy like Ron Burgundy or that we didn’t enjoy seeing Adam Sandler lose his mind over one phone call to a sex chat line. These were all wonderful movies that had us in various states of stitches, but is it wrong to say that we also would’ve liked seeing the earlier draft where Burgundy and friends come up close with orangutans who also have some super impressive ninja skills? Of course, it isn’t ...
Anchorman Had A First Draft Featuring Newsroom Folk Lost In The Wilderness
Given the smorgasbord of shenanigans these guys get up to in the movie where a dog convinces a zoo bear not to attack the dumb humans, it’s not difficult to imagine the guys from the KVWN channel 4 newsroom acapella-ing “Afternoon Delight” while sipping on their own sweat in some wilderness somewhere. Truly, you could put these characters in almost any setting, and it would still be funny watching Steve Carell try and speak more than two words at a time. For context, the first draft of Anchorman was going to be a parody of the 1993 biographical survival drama, Alive — the movie that wanted us to believe Ethan Hawke could pull off playing a Uruguayan rugby player.
Of course, we’ve since seen send-up projects make fun of plane crash survival dramas like Alive. The TV comedy series Wrecked enjoyed three seasons of mocking that show featuring everyone’s favorite series ending ever, Lost.
But who here can say that they wouldn’t want to see Burgundy and his band of merry manchildren crash a plane in the middle of nowhere, only to take on the elements with nothing but Stetsons and mustaches? Will Ferrell told the folks on The Bill Simmons Podcast that the initial idea was to have the newsmen fly to Philadelphia for some big convention. “Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains,” Ferrell explained. “And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside.” So far, so standard.
Naturally, it had to get wild at some point: “They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars. So throughout the movie, we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down, we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’”
It seemed that, at least for Hollywood, it took the cutting of a bunch of throwing star-enthusiasts that were also orangutans to finally get an Anchorman movie made. We, on the other hand, would’ve been all over that first idea in a heartbeat.
The Even Wilder Version Of Punch-Drunk Love
Paul Thomas Anderson’s eccentric rom-com about love in the time of phone sex and frequent-flyer miles was an instant hit among audiences, and deservedly so. It was quirky, bizarre, had enough heart, and more than enough pudding to go around. It also has one of the most delightful scenes in cinematic history when Adam Sandler and Philip Seymour Hoffman yell at each other over the phone. Never have our hearts warmed more.
While we will literally change none of this movie, the original concept sounds just as enticing as the one we got. Many a cinephile knows that Punch-Drunk Love was born from P.T. Anderson’s unproduced draft for a movie called Knuckle Sandwich — a story that revolves around our two main love bugs, Barry and Lena, who have a meet-cute at a hotdog stand before immediately getting married in Vegas.
Everything soon turns Tarantino-esque when Lena, now Barry’s ex-wife, mysteriously disappears, and the plot goes from “love is weird” to ultra-violent showdowns with Barry (who, by the way, is a professional thief in this version) having to take on a bunch of goons in the criminal underworld. Why? Because Barry’s only goal is to have “one last kiss.” It’s wildly ridiculous and would probably have looked something like Punch-Drunk Love meets Uncut Gems.
The Knuckle Sandwich draft also included the original (and now famous) quote from Punch-Drunk Love, where Sandler tells Hoffman, “I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than you could possibly imagine.” it also had a version of the line where Barry so lovingly tells Lena that he wants to smash her face with a sledgehammer.
But for the most part, the script was less character-driven and more focused on action pieces and plot twists to move the story forward. Still, it would’ve been fun seeing a movie where Seymour Hoffman played a bad guy named Babaloo who sees murder when anyone tries to steal his sandwich.
The Simpsons Movie Almost Brought Back Hank Scorpio
The 2007 feature film about the Simpsons saving Springfield yet again gave us a lot of good moments: From Spider-Pig to that Green Day cameo to Homer sharing one of his classic and invaluable life lessons with us all:
One of the movie’s biggest running jokes is the nefarious nature of one Russ Cargill, the head of the EPA and doomer of Springfield — that is, after Homer himself dooms them first by dumping all that pig poop into the already contaminated Springfield lake. Played by Albert Brooks, Cargill is an understated character who goes from rich guy thinking it’s noble to take a position he’s supposedly overqualified for (and one that pays way less than he’s used to) …
… to a full-blown, out-of-control (and yet still understated somehow) megalomaniac:
The thing is that many folks found Cargill too bland and boring for an animated world in which characters often behave badly, and a silent baby is more interesting. This is why the revelation that the fan-favorite character Hank Scorpio was originally going to be the villain of the movie sounds both good and right. Also voiced by Brooks, Scorpio only appeared in one episode of The Simpsons series, but the character had an impact on viewers thanks to his jokes and his overblown charm that often revealed his true sadistic nature. The guy was over-the-top but in an incredibly pitch-perfect way.
Some folks have argued that Scorpio wouldn’t have worked as the EPA villain in the movie where we all saw Bart’s doodle, mainly because of his good relationship with Homer. We disagree, as that relationship would’ve made the conflict all the more interesting. Would Scorpio “save” the family by offering to relocate them if they were willing to sacrifice their hometown? Could Lisa have started her own underground “Eat the rich” rebel alliance in retaliation? Would Scorpio offer Bart some new invention that would make his doodle bigger? So many opportunities lost because folks just didn’t want to go there.
In many ways, adding Scorpio to the government cabal could finally have been the opportunity for Homer and his family to stand up to the evil supervillain pretending to be good and well. And sure, just like Cargill, being head of the EPA would’ve been a step or twenty down for Scorpio, but we all know that characters like these will always be addicted to power. Putting a dome on top of an entire town? That’s a pretty big power move right there.
The National Lampoon Jaws Movie That Never Was
When Jaws 3-D came out back in 1983, people were disappointed. Much of it had to do with the hyped-up marketing at the time, but it was mostly due to the fact that it just wasn’t all that scary or even entertaining. The filmmakers probably should’ve known this when they decided to set the third movie in the Jaws franchise at SeaWorld.
Which is a shame, then, that the studio didn’t go with the initial, more ambitious plan of doing a Jaws movie, Animal House-style. See, in 1978, Universal released both Jaws 2 and National Lampoon’s Animal House. The $3 million budget slapstick comedy did so well that it inspired the smash-hit Airplane! (which also came from a $3 million budget). Silly comedy was clearly in and proved lucrative thanks to their small budgets — an observation that led the Jaws producers to consider making the third shark movie a low-budget comedy.
They reached out to National Lampoon producer Matty Simmons to come up with a pitch, and boy, did he deliver. His idea for the third movie would’ve seen a bunch of characters work on the production of a Jaws sequel (which would've featured a shark that’s also an alien). All the while, an actual great white shark stalks the filmmakers to no end, which sounds a lot like the plot of Scream 3 if the slasher was also an apex sea predator.
Together with John Hughes and Tod Campbell (both Lampoon writers), a script was written — titled Jaws 3, People 0 — with heaps of jokes to make the shark story funny. The opening alone featured Jaws' author, Peter Benchley, getting chomped by the toothy fish in his own swimming pool. That alone would’ve been a Shark Movie Hall of Fame moment on par with that time Samuel L. Jackson got shushed by a shark for talking too much.
To top it all off, they wanted Joe Dante (of Gremlins fame) to direct the Jaws-But-Funny movie following Dante’s success with his own Jaws rip-off, Piranha. Unfortunately, Universal ultimately decided that they didn’t want to produce the script. According to Simmons, it came down to the old tale of “a studio sitting in judgment about what is not funny, especially when they're not humorists.” We hear that.
Zanandi is, regrettably, still on Twitter.