If you like boobs, sex, nudity and violence as much as I do, and hate how the MPAA always tends to knock down the best movies just because they contain some racy material that is only considered racy because the MPAA says so, then "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is for you. An inspiring documentary that will raise eyebrows for its quasi-inside look at the authoritative body that is the MPAA, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" could easily be an Oscar nominee in a few months time.
Directed by Kirby Dick, who directed the so-so Oscar nominee "Twist of Faith," takes a stab directly (that's three times the work "direct" has been used in this sentence) at the Motion Picture Association of America, and for good reason. He, along with what I am sure are countless of other filmmakers, is frustrated with how the MPAA picks and chooses what it likes, usually based on a non-realistic 1950's ideal of sexuality. Violent films are okay, but scenes containing even a little bit of sexuality - and especially homosexuality - get slapped with R ratings or worse - the dreaded NC-17.
In one interview with Jack Valenti, the founder of the MPAA claims that NC-17 ratings are more often given to films with violence than with sex, and that is one of the funniest moments of the movie. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single movie that was given an NC-17 movie due to violence - and can think of several that were given the stamp of doom due to sex. In another, someone claims that NC-17 ratings have no negative effect on box office revenues - when in fact, most theaters and many video stores won't carry NC-17 films.
These simple statements by members of the MPAA are enough to show that they are out-of-touch with reality. Of course, these were my views coming into the movie, and "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" reinforces my beliefs, and then compounds them by throwing out several interesting facts I did not know.
For starters, no one knows who is on the ratings board at the MPAA. It is a secret organization, yet they are the make-and-break censors in this country. If they aren't censoring I don't know what they're doing, as they are single-handedly the ones responsible for not allowing children to see certain movies, even if those movies are quite acceptable and sometimes even ideal for children. Even scarier is the fact that members of the board are members of the clergy, which goes to prove that religious censorship is being placed on films that should be given a neutral chance.
Okay, so I've been ranting long enough. What about the movie itself? It is good. Real good. Kirby digs fairly deep, going as far as to hire private investigators to come up with the names of the people inside the MPAA. The story is interesting, and he drops several bombshells along the way. On top of all that, the film is entertaining. It's funny, jaw-dropping and features plenty of well known actors and directors.
At the same time, I felt as though Kirby could have gone even deeper than he did. The movie is full of little computer graphics to make his findings seem more powerful, but he could have been using that time to get even more footage and facts. While his bombshells are good, the MPAA remains an illusive group, and it would have been nice to see him really try to infiltrate it more than he did. The closest he gets is by doing a cheesy reenactment with fake, cartoon-animated MPAA members.
"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" isn't completely explosive, but it's about as strong as you can expect for a film about a secret organization like the MPAA. The revelations in the film are actually quite scary, and this is a big step up for Kirby as a filmmaker.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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