Bully for The Lorax & The Killing of John Carter

Well The Lorax killed John Carter at the box office over the weekend. The Lorax is now the highest grossing film of 2012. I’m sorry to see John Carter perform so poorly but the advertising has not made it look very good. I guess I’ll find out later today when I go see it with my FREE ticket. Speaking of which, if you are going to see The Lorax, Wal-Mart has a selection of children’s films on DVD for $5 each with a $5 The Lorax movie cash sticker on them. $5 won’t even buy a matinee ticket these days but if you are going anyway then why not grab a free DVD.

The struggle to get a PG-13 rating for the documentary Bully continues. High school student Katy Butler has amassed over 275,000 signatures in favor of getting the MPAA rating overturned. The latest news is that this includes twenty members of congress. I understand the drive here and that the makers shouldn’t have to cut their film but honestly word is that we’re talking six F-bombs which would just mean partially bleeping five of them for the PG-13 rating the Weinsteins are coveting.

The Killing

“The disappearance of a young Seattle girl sets in motion this moody crime series centering on a detective — Sarah Linden — who’s trying to start a new life in California but is unable to walk away from the mysteries posed by the complex case.”

The Killing just became available on instant Netflix (assuming they don’t yank it again like they did with Magnum and Miami Vice). I haven’t seen it but I absolutely adore AMC’s The Walking Dead (one episode left in the season) and have found AMC’s other series, Mad Men and Breaking Bad to be wonderfully written and acted. I will warn you though that while many people enjoyed the series, the ending sparked a bit of outrage so watch at your own risk.

PG-13 Versus R – Bully Edition

I HATE the PG-13 rating so I wanted to talk about it. It did not take long before I realized that this would encompass more than a single post.

Bully (listed as The Bully Project on Netflix) (2011)

Exploring the subject of school bullying from a personal angle, this eye-opening documentary tracks the stories of five different families whose children are struggling to defend themselves on a near-daily basis.

Bully is due to be released in theaters at the end of March. I have not seen this film but the MPAA has rated it R for “some language”. I imagine it is quite a bit of language (word is that it is for six expletives) as the academy appears to have dropped their unwritten rule of ‘only one F-bomb per PG-13 film’ quite some time ago. As far back as 1989, the movie Tremors was absolutely chock full of profanity and managed a PG-13 rating (though it did avoid sexual profanity).

This is very much a message movie, though how important I’m not sure, not having seen it. I will admit that I was bullied in high school and I imagine almost everyone has been a bully, bullied or has at the very least witnessed bullying. With a number of recent suicides from bullying making the news, this is certainly a timely documentary.

Bully was well-received by Anderson Cooper who featured it on his eponymous program Anderson Cooper 360 last October. The Weinsteins received an R rating from the MPAA. They appealed and I guess not surprisingly, their appeal was denied. Ostensibly Harvey Weinstein wants this rated PG-13 so that schools will be able to show it as a public service and that teens will be able to see it on their own in theaters.

Harvey Weinstein has taken his fight to the press and has even threatened, toothlessly, to no longer submit his films to the ratings board. Of course that would mean that mainstream theaters would no longer carry his films as the National Association of Theater Owners works hand in glove with the MPAA.

Harvey Weinstein went around and around with the MPAA over their decision to slap last year’s Best Picture winner, The King’s Speech with an ‘R” rating (for ‘some language’). After it won, Harvey capitulated and had the film re-cut for a PG-13 rating (for ‘language’). I have seen the R-rated version and while there is plenty of language, I did not find any of it objectionable with the context. Besides, prior to its win, were teens likely to go see this?

The 2004 Iraq War documentary, Gunner Palace, dropped the F-bomb a record 42 times. In addition to that and other strong language, the film also contains violent situations and some drug references. In spite of that, the MPAA reversed its original ‘R’ rating and gave Gunner Palace a PG-13 on appeal. So does this mean in eight years, we have actually become a more restrictive society? That language is somehow naughtier now?

Note: While Gunner Palace set the record for F-bombs in a PG-13 movie, I believe South Park – Bigger, Longer, Uncut still holds the R rated record of 146 F-bombs. If you want to know what a film is rated and why, there is a nice site here, Reasons for Movie Ratings.