Filmmaker on the inception of the famous food poisoning scene in hit comedy
Director Paul Feig recently spoke about the genesis of the famous food-poisoning sequence in Universal’s hit comedy at April’s NAB Show in Las Vegas and said the original script featured none other than the “Bourne Ultimatum” star.
“There was a sequence that Kristen (Wiig) and Annie (Mumolo) had written, which was funny, but it (involved) trying on the dresses, and then Kristen’s character had this fantasy about what would she would do in this dress. It was really funny, but it was crazy: It was about running through the woods and suddenly Matt Damon shows up….
“But tonally, it just didn’t fit in the movie. It would be weird to suddenly go into somebody’s brain, because we were trying to be so realistic with it. And we were wondering what do we do, and so Judd (Apatow) just popped in and said, ‘Fuck it, they all get food-poisoning.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is hilarious,’ and so I’m writing up this scene and I’m feeding it to Kristen and Annie and it just turned into that.
“It’s a situation that happens. I mean, clearly people have gotten food-poisoning and people try not to shit the pants all the time. A lot of women would say afterward that it was really funny, because something similar happened to them. So we were always going, ‘What would you do in this case?’ We kind of wrote it like a guy would and then … a perfect example is, if you’ve seen the movie, Maya (Rudolph) is running across the street, and she slowly sinks down and shits her pants. Well, the original idea was that she was running across the street, and she had such powerful diarrhea that it knocks her off her feet and she slides — and if you remember the original trailer, it always ended with Maya running across the street and falling on the ground. So we were laughing about that, and then Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote the movie, (said) ‘she could go like this,’ and then in the writers room she acted out that slow fall and it was the funniest thing ever. So we shot both — and then we never even used the other one.
“How would you want to show vomiting? Kristen was really nervous about it and said, ‘Look we’re gonna shoot everything.’ And then, in the editing room, we did some where you see a lot of vomiting (and) we did ones where you don’t see any. But that again goes back to the test screenings because then we can say, ‘Let’s try the grosser one. Let’s try the pull-back. You know what, I think we can get more,’ and it becomes very mathematical. It’s like, if you pull the string too hard, it breaks.
“It’s the same thing with comedy. There’s so many jokes we could’ve put in ‘Bridesmaids,’ but you (tire) the audience. You have to be in the service of the story and the emotions first, and then the jokes bring you along. ”