A very interesting insight into the film ratings board in the USA. As I suspected, there is a huge bias against anything sexual in movies, expecially in the case of depictions of female pleasure and homosexuality, while violence is given a lot of leeway. However, this doc was a bit meandering, and presented some facts that didn't really contribute to its goal. The hunting down of raters felt out of place.
Documentary focus on the strange and inconsistent rating system that stop nudity before violence and that selected people control the media. The sad part is that nowadays the problem is Hollywood self-censoring itself as producers do everything to make films family friendly instead of having an R-rating so that they can sell even more tickets forgetting that adults also skip PG-13 if a movie is watered down too much.
The MPAA is a problem. They are essentially nerfing creativity in film in a, frankly, borderline unconstitutional way not unlike the censorship done in Portugal during the mandate of the fascist dictator Salazar. That being said, the movie wants to spend more time exposing said censors in a ersatz suspense with an inconclusive finale instead of reaching to the core of the problem which is comes from American though.
While voluntary, only movies submitted to and rated by the MPAA will be widely shown in US theaters. This alarming documentary exposes the make up of this super secret cadre that censors and rates the movies we see or don't get to see. The conservative bias of this group may or may not surprise you, but you should be conscious, while viewing any movie, the untoward influence they wield on the final product.
An okay doc that reveals some of the MPAA's devious ways, then also wastes time in a van with Kirby Dick waiting outside the MPAA's office, and dives into really questionable territory suggesting that screen violence begets real violence, and that Gunner's Palace should've gotten a PG-13 because it was "important."
As one talking head says, "People have no idea what they're not seeing." Exposes the MPAA as much as it can, and in that sense is really valuable, yet the docu is somewhat monotonous. The point about how tightly cloistered, selectively puritanical, and overly powerful the org is could have been made w/out devoting so much screen time to the detective and the investigative work. 3.5 stars
The film presents some valid criticisms against the MPAA, such as they are essentially a front organization for a handful of studios and venues to maintain a monopoly over domestic film distribution. But the film also lingers on a few extremely lame criticisms, centering on some idea of maintaining control of the culture. It just seems to ignore the fact that not everyone WANTS to see movies 'Boys Don't Cry'.
Although the mystery that is the MPAA inately offers much fun speculation, Kirby Dick's well-intentioned and hyperfocused assult on the veiled association is ultimately a hodge-podge of artificial suspense, mock adventure, high-moral ramblings, and sexualized skin clips. This Film does manage to be entertaining and informative enough to see once, but the debate Dick is looking for is in middle America, not Hollywood.
I have to disagree with the below comment. No, it didn't offer any solutions, but most documentaries arguing any particular viewpoint don't either. Religulous didn't, none of Michael Moore's films do, and plenty of others. I think the point is to get the audience thinking for their own solutions rather than having it handed to them.