"This Film Is Not Yet Rated"
Directed by Kirby Dick.
Written by Kirby Dick, Eddie Schmidt and Matt Patterson.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 9/12/06
Love a good documentary--ESPECIALLY one that
trashes The Man, in this case the Motion Picture Association of
America Ratings Board, which dictates what movies are best suited
for American audiences based on the ideas of a nine-person
top-secret group of film raters.
Director Kirby Dick, who was nominated for
an Oscar for his feature documentary "Twist of Faith" a couple years
back, does a great job of weaving talking-head interviews with a fun
fact-driven story about the ratings board, its history, its
legendary chief, Jack Valenti, and the process by which Dick finds
out just who might be on this super-secret board of film reviewers.
In speaking with directors as varied as famous independents like
John Waters and Kevin Smith with lesser-known but influential
directors like Atom Egoyan, Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry") and
Darren Aronofsky ("Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream"), "This Film Is Not
Yet Rated" gives us lots of examples of points where directors lost
battles with their film due to excessive sex and/or violence with
the MPAA. Because the MPAA has only Valenti and whoever is in
charge of the film board at the time to speak for it, Dick's
attempts to wrangle information out of the MPAA are at times quite
funny, especially when he submits the film you are currently
watching to the board to go over its content.
But it is the random facts, the funny
background score selections and wide variety of clips from films of
the last 10-15 years that make "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" so
entertaining; if you are old enough, this is a great film for
everybody, because it creates a compelling story that is backed by
the fact that it's real! The film also stays away from going
completely Michael Moore-style over-the-top in its moral thumping
agenda, because there isn't an agenda to be thumped...you should
simply naturally question an organization that literally has no
precedent, no competitors and shady, unexplained government
influence. Some PG-13 films are more violent and feature a
higher body count than some R-rated films, but the MPAA says that it
doesn't have to justify it because--as interviews with former
members validate--the MPAA has no rules or standards that it uses to
grade films. It just does it, and if you don't like it, you
can appeal the rating, which results in a rating change about, oh,
1% of the time. If you decide to bypass the board and have
your film enter theaters as "Unrated", there's a pretty good
guarantee that your film will make no money, since most TV, print
and radio outlets do not broadcast or publish film previews for
Unrated or NC-17 films. So, it's do or die!
"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is a great
movie, and much like in the two other great documentaries I have
seen this year, "Wordplay" and "An Inconvenient Truth", it's a great
combination of entertaining filmmaking and a story that will leave
you smarter than when you got to the theater. Check it out
when you can!
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard