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Coyote Ugly turned 15 years old this past August, just in case you weren't feeling old enough today. Strangely enough, the dramedy cult classic - which centers on sexy New York bartenders with aspirations of fame - was almost decidedly different, due to some unused writing contributions from Kevin Smith.
Director David McNally recently opened up regarding Smith’s unused draft:
(It was) terrific (but) pretty raunchy, (and) missing an emotional element to the relationship thing.
This quote comes from The Hollywood Reporter, in which McNally – accompanied by several other members of the film’s creative team – discussed the process of bringing Coyote Ugly to the big screen. He gives Smith credit for writing a wonderful film, but relents that he did not give enough of an "emotional element" to the film’s relationship storyline. After the project went through numerous rewrites under different writers, Catch Me If You Can writer Jeff Nathanson was to the one who created the finalized version of the film. If you have yet to see Coyote Ugly, check out the film’s trailer below to get a sense of the story:
In fairness to Smith, these sorts of notes can be fairly subjective. While his writing is most certainly stylish, he has pulled off strong interpersonal relationships between his characters. Anyone who has seen Clerks, Dogma, or Chasing Amy will attest to the man’s ability to write an intriguing story. That being said, Smith’s love stories do often take a back seat to platonic relationships in his films, so McNally’s comments make a certain degree of sense, as the film leans on its love story for quite a bit of its running time.
It seems to have recently become fashionable to talk about filmmakers who opted not to use work penned by Smith. The recent documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? similarly focuses a great deal of its running time to explain Kevin Smith’s early involvement in the film, and his eventual release from the creative process by the producers. If nothing else it shows how prolific the indie filmmaker has become in the years since the original Clerks, and makes us want to read his unused draft all the more.
Considering Smith’s existing filmography, it seems doubtful that he has any regrets with regards to this issue. Coyote Ugly is not necessarily remembered for having an intriguing love story, so it remains entirely plausible that the film could have maintained its cult status if Smith had mishandled or omitted the love story. Though we'll humbly admit, we still have a soft spot for the film that became the finished product.