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In both form and content, Adam McKay's Vice is nothing like your standard biopic. The story of Dick Cheney breaks the fourth wall, has a fake ending and includes a scene where Christian Bale and Amy Adams' characters discuss their plans in Shakespearean verse. Vice could have went even more over the top, though, because it originally included a musical number that had to be cut, as Adam McKay explained:
It's breathtaking. It's incredible. And it just didn't work. You didn't need it. It was too long in that area of the movie. We tried 15 versions of it. We moved it here, we moved it there. We played it really short. We played it way longer and put scenes in the middle of it. We tried every single thing you could do. The only reason it doesn't pain me at this moment is because I know we tried everything we could do. You're in the editing room and you're like, 'This is amazing. This is going to work.' And you just forget the movie tells you what it wants.
It sounds like despite the best efforts of Adam McKay and company, they simply could not make the musical number work in the film. The piece was too long in what is already an over two-hour movie, and even shortening it didn't work. Perhaps the director could have justified it if it was critical to the story he was telling, but while Adam McKay called the number 'breathtaking,' it was also unnecessary.
Adam McKay loved it so much that he endeavored to find a way to keep it in the film, and it sounds like he tried a lot of different things, moving things around and molding it. But, like trying to make a puzzle piece fit where it doesn't belong, he was ultimately unable to do so.
There is a quote attributed to William Faulkner that writers must kill their darlings, and the same is true of filmmakers. The musical number was Adam McKay's baby and he had to kill it by removing it from Vice. At least, as he told Variety, he isn't pained by the loss of the musical number because he knows he did everything he could to save it.
While the musical number got the axe and the divisive film works without it, it does sound like it would have been a ton of fun. Adam McKay also told Variety that the musical number would have occurred when Steve Carell's Donald Rumsfeld is teaching Christian Bale's Dick Cheney about how to succeed in politics. The song had the theme of how to get ahead and not caring about anything.
The song for the musical number was written by Moonlight's Oscar-nominated composer Nicholas Britell and featured the vocal talents of Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard. On top of that, Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler was chosen to choreograph the scene.
It's hard not to want to see this scene now, but if you've seen Vice, you can kind of understand why it was cut. The content of the musical number as Adam McKay describes it is in some ways all encompassed in the scene in the film where Dick Cheney asks Donald Rumsfeld, "What do we believe in?" and Rumsfeld breaks into uncontrollable laughter.
That being said, the scene still sounds like a blast that fits with the humorous and satirical tone of the film, and those who liked Vice would certainly be curious to see it. Fortunately, Adam McKay said that he wants to put the deleted scene on Vice's eventual home video release.
Vice is now playing. Check out our premiere guide for all of the biggest movies to look forward to this year.