Nov 032008

>We’ve been so pins-and-needles over tomorrow’s election thing, we’re totally late to the party for the 40th birthday of the MPAA’s rating system. Oh, well–it’s not like they bothered to show up for our 40th shindig.


Founded in 1968, largely as a way for industry to stave off government intervention in the movie business, the ratings were/are intended as a way to help parents decide which titles are appropriate for the precious youngsters, but have tended to be a bit, er, capricious over the years.

In a fitting birthday gift to the MPAA, Defamer has come up with a very special list of questionable rulings made over the years, “40 Reasons to Wish the MPAA Ratings System an Unhappy 40th Birthday.”

Be sure to check out the rest, but just a few of the hits:

Boys Don’t Cry: Threatened with an NC-17 for a lingering shot of a topless Chloe Sevigny experiencing an orgasm, but allowed to keep the climactic rape scene and gunshot to Brondon Teena’s head.

and, of course…

Waiting For Guffman: A classic example of the “Fuck Rule”; a Christopher Guest mockumentary with no sex or violence but featuring the F-word used one too many times in an actor’s audition using the scene from Raging Bull. Its R-rating was upheld on appeal. (You can use “fuck” in a non-sexual way up to four times in and retain a PG-13 — maybe.)

And in an interesting coincidence (or is it?!), Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which barely squeaked away from it’s own NC-17 rating, opened on the MPAA’s birthday to not-so-spectacular results. At work might have been a skittering away from the the film’s title and subject matter by mainstream newspapers and venues… though several reports underlined the odd hypocrisy of limiting the sex-themed feature while glorifying such torture-porn fare as Saw V.

Then again, going back to Defamer, it could just be bad marketing on the part of the distributing Weinstein brothers. Shocking, indeed!

Sep 102008

>In Kevin Smith’s ongoing struggle with the MPAA to get his latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, out into the theaters and in front of an audience, comes news that the agency has rejected the original poster for the movie. Featuring the title characters, each fully clothed, you may also notice at the bottom edge of the poster the somewhat humorous suggestion that each is getting oral, er, attention from the other. Pretty innocuous–and banned by the MPAA!

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Interestingly, as noted on, the MPAA earlier approved very similar imagery for the Dane Cook-vehicle, Good Luck Chuck, for a poster that went even further–if you can call it that–featuring the actor more apparently in flagrante delitico.

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One might chalk up the discrepancy to mere bureaucratic inconsistency. Or, perhaps something more insidious, as it brings to mind contentions made in the documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, that the MPAA regularly applies far more rigorous standards when a depiction includes female sexual pleasure–and not just some guy boffing a pie.

Hypocrisy much? Meanwhile, first reports on the film, which just premiered in Toronto, can be found here!

Aug 072008

>Kevin Smith‘s upcoming latest, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, in which two friends attempt to overcome debt(!) by entering the adult film world, just had its rating reduced from an NC-17 to an R, after an appeal made by the director to the MPAA.

Acknowledging in an AP report that the more restrictive rating would have been “commercial suicide,”

Smith said the MPAA ratings board objected to two sex scenes involving co-stars Jason Mewes and Katie Morgan. After the movie’s initial NC-17 rating, Smith said he trimmed those scenes as far as he was willing to go but was unable to convince the board to lower the rating.

“They felt it was rather sexually graphic. My point is, it was comically graphic. All the sex in the movie with the exception of one scene is very cartoonish, very campy,” Smith said. “It wasn’t designed to titillate.”

The MPAA appeals board apparently agreed with Smith’s arguments, which he presented on Tuesday. No word yet when/if he’ll get an official thumbs-up on an early teaser for the film – see below – which the MPAA ordered yanked from its internet-only release back in June.

Jan 182008

>Naturally, just as soon as we finally manage to convince the relevant men in our life that this whole “teeth in the vagina” phobia is merely primal fear turned urban legend, along comes, well, Teeth.

The movie, about a virginal, teen-age girl who discovers that she does in fact suffer from vagina dentata, was a cult hit at last year’s Sundance and is going out in limited release this weekend from Roadside Attractions. As is often the case, a comparison of the promotional posters created for its festival vs. theatrical release is pretty illuminating, an interesting glimpse into who the marketing-powers-that-be see is the film’s true potential audience – and what needs to be tapped to get them in the seats.

No tagline, but t-shirt reads “Warning: sex changes everything.”

“Every rose has its thorns,” plus pull-quote “The most alarming cautionary tale for men since Fatal Attraction.”

Ooooh, scary boys – look out! To be fair, probably a more accurate pitch, since this isn’t some wacky rom-com. But if fear’s not your only motivator and you’re looking to know more before you go, Lauren Wissot‘s got the review over at The House Next Door.

Aug 312007

>Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In a recent interview with The Reeler, director William Friedkin discusses his back-and-forths with the MPAA to get an R rating for the original release of Cruising in 1980. Sadly, for anyone hoping for a bit more detail on what ended up on the cutting room floor – and what apparently still isn’t being put back for the DVD release scheduled next month – Friedkin remains pretty mum:

What didn’t make it didn’t make it. I’m not about to circumvent the ratings board now and describe all the scenes that aren’t in the movie. There’s about a half-hour to 40 minutes. But I would have to say is was mostly just more of what was going on in the clubs, and they didn’t change or advance the story in any major way.

You know. Just more of what was going on in the clubs. That kinda stuff.

Much less the buzz-kill, this week’s episode of ReelerTV contains a clip of the film’s memorable hanky scene, along with host S.T. VanAirsdale’s revelation of which color he’s flagging these days. Who knew?!