I love Blade Runner, but I blame the glut of “director’s cuts” on Ridley Scott’s decision to release the version he intended, all those years ago. I like The Final Cut, but I still harbor nostalgia for Harrison Ford’s almost sarcastic narration. Nowadays every movie, especially comedies, comes in an Unrated Director’s Cut jammed with what we used to call Deleted Scenes. And as for Unrated, any movie with added footage becomes “unrated,” because the MPAA did not officially rate that cut of the film. It doesn’t mean there are secret boobies, or extra violence, or an extra fuckity-fuck-fuck in the dialogue. It’s just marketing-speak.
Most of what’s added isn’t any funnier; Now they just cut adult comedies to get a PG-13 rating so the kiddies can see it, and make us buy the DVD to get the “unrated” version that is maybe an R, or could still be PG-13. And most of the time it screws up the pacing of the film, especially if they chintz out and don’t include the theatrical cut of the film on the Unrated Extreme Director’s Cut Edition. For example, thank goodness on the Aliens DVD you can view the theatrical cut. The extra footage is interesting- we get to see life on the colony, and some bitchin’ automatic machine gun pods, but the mystery is ruined- when the Marines arrive, we know what to expect. And Newt’s survival is less of a surprise. In the same vein, Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King is intolerably long for anyone other than a huge Tolkien nerd like myself.
Comedies have been the worst offenders: The 40 Year Old Virgin was a taut little comedy that launched Apatow’s current run of hits, and helped make Steve Carell a huge star. The original drags a little, but the Director’s Cut is over 2 hours long, more than enough time for Carell’s pals to hire an escort to take care of things. Poor Terry Zwigoff, who had an unexpected hit with Bad Santa, had the studio make their own Badder Santa without his permission. It was so sloppy that he eventually made his own director’s cut to supersede it. I’m told the DVD version of Tropic Thunder changes the spitting scene for something else, and now I’m wondering as it travels to me in the mail if I’m going to like this version. At least give us the choice of a theatrical version!
Some DVDs have fun with this concept- the Sex Drive Unrated DVD has an “unrated version” that has naked women superimposed over some scenes, as a gag. Good job, guys. Release the movie you want to release. And unless the studio forced you to make cuts, don’t add deleted scenes in and call it an Unrated Director’s Cut Extra Boobie-licious Edition. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of Lucas making Greedo shoot first 20 years later, or Spielberg removing the terrorist joke from E.T.: The Extraterrestrial.
You know: fucking lame. Do us all a favor, and put both the theatrical release and your latest last-minute revision version on the DVD, especially if it’s a 2 or 3 disc ultra-mega-you-gotta-have Edition. We liked it in theaters, and when we buy it, we want to see that version again.