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The MPAA Being a 'Bully': 10 Films That Appealed Their Ratings

By Aaron Bogert, Peter Knegt, Dana Harris, Bryce J. Renninger and Nigel M. Smith | Indiewire March 29, 2012 at 1:23PM

Anti-bullying documentary "Bully" has drummed up the type of controversy most indies only dream of, thanks to Harvey Weinstein's much-publicized efforts to fight the film's R-rating in favor of a more teen-friendly PG-13. Despite Weinstein's best efforts and the rallying cries of his celeb pals, the MPAA didn't change their tune, leaving Weinstein to release the film unrated this Friday.
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Anti-bullying documentary "Bully" has drummed up the type of controversy most indies only dream of, thanks to Harvey Weinstein's much-publicized efforts to fight the film's R-rating in favor of a more teen-friendly PG-13. Despite Weinstein's best efforts and the rallying cries of his celeb pals, the MPAA didn't change their tune, leaving Weinstein to release the film unrated this Friday.

Now, this doesn't mark Weinstein's first battle with the MPAA (in 2010 he snagged an R rating for "Blue Valentine," after appealing the film's initial NC-17 slap). In fact, many distributors have stood up to the MPAA over the years, in the hope of earning their film a rating that could give it a chance at the box-office.

In honor of Weinstein's efforts on behalf of "Bully," we've weeded through the best MPAA vs. distributor battles to bring you our list of 10 films that made an effort to change the board's minds (in alphabetical order).


"American Psycho" (2000)

Anyone who has read the novel “American Psycho” can you tell you that Bret Easton Ellis’ extremely graphic and controversial satire of 1980s Wall Street culture makes director Mary Harron’s 2000 film adaptation look positively quaint in comparison. A faithful adaptation of the novel would have made the film completely unwatchable, so Harron toned down the novel’s violent and sexual content. Nonetheless, the MPAA ratings board still gave the film an NC-17 upon their initial viewing. Harron initially assumed that the reason for the rating was the violence in the film (axes in the face, chainsaws, etc.). However, the reason for the rating was actually a three-way sex scene between Christian Bale’s character and two prostitutes. The ratings board’s decision in this case highlights their frequent tendency to let violence in films slide, while cracking down on sexual content. Harron acquiesced to the ratings board’s request and cut out several seconds from the sex scene in order to secure an R rating. For the film’s home video release, the full three-way scene was restored to its original length. [Aaron Bogert]

This article is related to: The Weinstein Company, Bully, MPAA





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