Directed by: Kirby Dick
Premise: A documentary film exposing the members of the MPAA’s ratings board and the arbitrary process films must go through to achieve R-ratings.
What Works: This Film is Not Yet Rated is an excellent look into the ratings board and the film is able to work along three parallel paths. The first is a detective story by Kirby Dick as he works with private investigators to discover the identities and qualifications of the members of the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board. The second path explores the ratings process through the experiences of filmmakers such as John Waters, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, Darren Aronofsky, and Mary Harron. The third path takes a look at the history of censorship in Hollywood from the Hays Code to contemporary film ratings, including a biography of Jack Valenti, the MPAA’s most outspoken advocate. The three paths are complementary and This Film is Not Yet Rated is able to cut between these narratives to construct a very convincing argument against the MPAA, exposing how it serves the interests of major Hollywood business interests while undermining art films and the artistic integrity of filmmakers across the board. Dick does not fully reject the idea of having some kind of ratings system, but his film is able to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of the ratings process by comparing nearly identical clips of R-rated and NC-17 films.
What Doesn’t: The only element lacking here is the look at censorship. This Film is Not Yet Rated does not take a serious look into why censorship occurs and it does not entertain arguments for censorship to protect children. Addressing more opposing arguments would have strengthened the film’s case.
DVD extras: Commentary track, Q and A with the director, deleted scenes, trailer.
Bottom Line: This Film is Not Yet Rated is an important documentary film for all who love the movies and freedom of speech. It effectively illustrates how industry impacts cinematic art and how slippery moral or ethical judgments can be.
Episode: #147 (July 8, 2007)