Movies "R" not us


When the MPAA relented a while back and changed its absurd NC-17 rating for "Blue Valentine" to an R, it looked like the insidious studio self-regulating group might be trying to reform. But never underestimate the power of studio greed, cowardice, and hypocrisy when it comes to covering its assets and infantilizing mainstream commercial movie-making.

Shortly after winning four Oscars, including Best Picture, for "The King's Speech," the Weinstein Brothers meekly agreed to bowdlerize the film's hilarious "Fuck" speech therapy scene in order to trade in the film's "R" rating for a "PG-13" (suitable for all ages)  thus expanding its potential audience for a re-release. They expect by doing so they might rake in a few extra millions at the box office (it has already grossed over $100 million domestically and more than that overseas). How much it will cost in artistic integrity, of course, was never an issue.

And now, perhaps taking a cue from the Weinstein's, Universal Studios has pulled the plug on Guillermo del Toro's planned 3-D adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story "At the Mountains of Madness" because the director is unwilling to expugate the  horror enough to warrant a "PG-13" instead of an "R." Del Toro told them that he wasn't going for graphic gore but that he wanted to make it "really, really uncomfortable and nasty."

Nastiness in a horror movie? That made Universal really uncomfortable. So here's an instance where a potential horror classic is stillborn because of a system that promotes innocuous mediocrity and a studio too frightened to risk losing a buck.  And if you're a movie lover, that's scary.

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