It is hard for me to relate to the magnitude of filmmakers’ disappointment after being handed a NC-17 rating in America (no children 17 and under admitted) when here in Singapore, we have the R21 rating (for above 21s). Nor do I necessarily agree with the proposition that rating should be given and can be appealed based on precedence because though I do not necessarily agree with the censorship here in Singapore, one thing I learned is that films should be rated based on the current tolerance of the society.
But if I could put myself into the shoes of an American independent filmmaker, I would certainly feel the frustration having to go against the MPAA’s film rating system (Motion Picture Association of America) that in general favors the big studios. “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” attempts to uncover the mechanism behind this rating board. The original cut was given a NC-17 rating and the new version – that is not yet rated – includes the appeal process undertook by the film director Kirby Dick.
Overlapping a set of at times entertaining and at times serious interviews is a rather interesting journal that documents how Kirby Dick hired a private investigator in an attempt to uncover the identities of the MPAA rating board members. Some parts of the movie are entertaining such as when different movie clips are shown as an illustration on how inconsistent the rating system is. Some commentaries are informative such as the topic of why violence is so much easier to obtain a non-NC-17 rating compare to sex.
Maybe I am secretly comparing “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” to my favorite documentary film “Bowling For Columbine” by Michael Moore (or even “Super Size Me”). “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” seems to lack the depth and authority and probably not as funny as what some critics have mentioned. While I wouldn’t go to the extend to say that it is a must-watch for those who are frequent movie goers (like some reviewers actually do), “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” is certainly a good starting point to understand how the MPAA rating system affects the mainstream Hollywood films that in turn may affect the American culture.
Is “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” going to change how films will be rated in America? Only time can tell.