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One controversial scene is cut from ''Runaway Bride''

Test screenings of the romantic comedy cause its director to remove an animal-cruelty joke

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Richard Gere
Ron Batzdorff

If you miss the usual raunchy humor, ”hair gel” splatter, and pie mutilations in the clean-cut romantic comedy ”Runaway Bride,” blame director Garry Marshall. ”There’s a lot of mean movies out there, but Garry’s a very romantic guy, a family guy, a loving guy,” says star Richard Gere. ”He loves the idea of people being nice to one another.”

Marshall may be a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s without a dark side. In fact, in ”Bride” he’d hoped to one-up ”There’s Something About Mary” and other recent comedies. ”The sick humor now seems to deal with animals,” says the 64-year-old creator of ”Happy Days.” ”They hurt them and they burn them and that sort of thing. And we had that!” A scene, planned as part of the end credit sequence, showed two women jogging with a dog. ”A handsome boy goes by, and the young girl gives the dog to the grandmother, and she doesn’t want it and dumps it in the garbage. Half the (test) audience, the ‘Something About Mary’ group, screamed laughing, and the other half was, ‘Why did you kill the dog?”’ says Marshall. The director, who had four backup scenes ready just in case, ultimately opted for a tamer ending.

”Society has gotten more cynical, but it’s not as sick as you think,” he explains. ”All the studios care about is the funny stuff, and they say people don’t care about characters. But they do.” Thanks for keeping it clean, Garry. The last thing we ever want to see is Richard Gere and Julia Roberts swapping Ex-Lax jokes.