This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

DVD Cover (Red Envelope Entertainment)
Genres: Documentary, Film & Television History, Media Studies
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Kirby Dick Kirby Dick
Kimberly Peirce Kimberly Peirce
Jon Lewis Jon Lewis
David Ansen David Ansen
Martin Garbus Martin Garbus
Wayne Kramer Wayne Kramer

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: January 25, 2007
After watching this revealing documentary, there's really only one thing that can be said: it's about time. It's about time someone took a look at the ratings system and showed their results to the public, and although the film might not get as much exposure as it should thanks to the unrated status it received (originally NC-17), it's something that any fan of modern cinema should check out.

During the ninety minutes and change that it runs for, director Kirby Dick takes a look at the formation, the history, and the current status of that behemoth known as the MPAA and the dreaded NC-17 rating in particular. This rating, for those of you not in the know, is great for those of us who actually like to watch movies; NC-17 (or the unrated equivalent) means that you're probably seeing what the director intended for you to see and not the sanitized version that the studio wanted to put in theaters. However, this rating is the kiss of death when it comes to profits; filmmakers can't properly advertise their films, major stores won't carry the DVD, and theaters won't play them. So, while this rating should only achieve what it was created for - to keep minors from seeing the film in question - it actually forces the filmmakers to censor themselves if they want to make any sort of profit.

So then, that's how the rating system works on the surface, but I don't think that there was any grand revelation there. The interesting part of all this is that the people who rate these movies are anonymous and have no accountability or standards when it comes to the ratings they hand out. You can show a man masturbating with a pie (with full buttocks exposed) and walk away with an R rating, while showing a female masturbating herself with no nudity involved will net you the dreaded NC-17. You can show a man and a woman having sex with plenty of sweat, boobs, and ass and get the R - but show a trace of pubes and it's NC-17 for you. Showing a man and a woman going at it is fine (as long as there's no pubes, remember), but show a homosexual pair go at it (even if it's much less explicit) and you're walking home with a four-character rating. Makes a lot of sense, right? During the film, Kirby points out this kind of hypocrisy, hands the camera over to plenty of acclaimed directors so that they can give their insight, and also attempts to find out the names of this "secret society" of movie raters. Included are comments from Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry), Kevin Smith (Clerks), John Waters (A Dirty Shame), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For a Dream), Matt Stone (South Park), and a fair amount of others.

One of the big reasons for this rating system, as Kirby explains, is so that the studios can control the market by declaring what is "fit" for mass consumption and what should wind up as a direct-to-video release. This fact is never so apparent as when Matt Stone weighs in with his experiences with the rating board. When he tried to get his independently-produced Orgazmo rated, he was told that it would be rated NC-17 - no details were given as to why and he wasn't told anything other than "You need to clean this up." When he attempted to get the Paramount-backed South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut rated, he was told that it would be rated NC-17 - and he was given extremely detailed instructions on what to cut in order to receive an R rating.

Some of the other directors featured here are much more colorful (if you can believe that) when it comes to their stories. John Waters in particular is hilarious, telling some tales that are relevant, insightful, and downright hysterical to boot (I actually had to pause the movie in order to catch my breath after his "felching" story). Kevin Smith has some strong words as well, and although these directors certainly took a risk by appearing here, their inclusions were certainly welcome.

One of the only complaints I had with the overall presentation was that there were times when the material strays away from the main subject in order to take jabs at the movie industry as a whole. Some of this material was flat-out irrelevant, and I think a little bit of editing would have worked wonders for this feature film (especially after seeing some of those deleted scenes). This doesn't hurt the film too much, mind you, but I definitely feel that a little more work could have went a long way.

There's a few minor flaws to be found, but overall, this is still a highly-recommended film for those of you with any sort of an interest in movies or the movie business as a whole (and I'd imagine that's most of you, considering the site that you're on). Check it out, if only to see Jack Valenti (former President of the MPAA) repeatedly make a fool out of himself with his "think of the children!" statements. 8/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 01/25/2007, 03:27 PM
Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed this film quite a bit, but I thought the filmmakers tried too hard to be Michael Moore at times, much like "Supersize Me" did...another good film, with some flaws. But, I still think this is a must see for any movie lover. 8/10.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 01/30/2007, 11:04 AM
I found this very informative. I'd have to say though, with people getting more movies off the internet then seeing them in theatres, filmmakers could get away with a limited release for an NC-17 film, and then a DVD release because if people want to see it that bad, they'd just get it on the internet.
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