This Film is Not Yet Rated is a documentary about how the MPAA works. I think I’d heard about it before, but what brought the movie to my attention was when Mugglecast discussed the announcement that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince received a mere PG rating. Host Andrew Simms gave a summary of how the MPAA rating board operates, citing from this film. I understand from him and from the box that it’s an exposè of MPAA corruption.
I’d also like to say hi to my parents at this point, who will probably be among the first to read me write about watching a movie that got an NC-17 before appeal. Fun fact: I spent an extra minute finding a work-safe picture.
The film starts out with a slightly irreverent tweak at the ratings system, swiftly moving into examples of explicit scenes that would get a film an NC-17. These are censored, and it plays with the censor bar, using it to reveal the credits.
The meat of the film is in the interviews with filmmakers and other industry insiders. It alternates between discussion of the current corrupt nature of the MPAA, following the private investigators hired to find the current anonymous board members and infiltrate them, and the history of the MPAA. It’s punctuated occasionally by comical moments that either dispense factoids or stop to spotligh a talking point, to keep the audience’s interest.
The interviews do get rather dry, but I think I’m only reacting so negatively due to the contrast between them and the comic relief. The film sometimes feels like the tension of director Kirby Dick’s impulse to poke fun at it all and his impulse to do a hard-hitting documentary that is taken seriously and makes real change.
The movie feels highly repetitive. Five minutes in I got that the MPAA is arbitrary and not held accountable to their own rules. Almost half of the movie focuses on how the board comes down on sexuality, followed by ten minutes on violence and language altogether.
Those who see this film should know that it doesn’t censor itself at all, except for effect. Like I said above, it received an NC-17 when rated. The rating was for non-lascivious examples of what got real films NC-17 ratings. Some attempt at appeal and compromise was made (partially to include a depiction of the appeal process), but ultimately, the final cut was left unrated.
See this movie: if you’re interested in the inner workings of a self-regulating body that doesn’t self-self-regulate.
Don’t see this movie: if you or your guardian feel you can’t handle graphic depictions of filmmakers getting screwed.