Dozens of Utah DVD retailers attracted unwanted attention from Hollywood heavyweights when, in the name of conservative family values, they began sanitizing films of sex, nudity, profanity, and violence. Outraged over the unauthorized editing of their work, prominent filmmakers began to speak out, thrusting the two groups into an intense legal, theoretical, and moral battle that would last six years before coming to a shocking conclusion. Written by
...judging by the fact that I'm putting up the very first review of this film on this site (a situation I've never encountered in the thirteen years I've been visiting here), but the truth is that I'm not overly surprised. Documentaries simply aren't IMDbers' cup of tea, as I have noticed time and time again.
Never mind that; if you're actually reading this, then you've either already seen the film, in which case anything I say isn't going to make a bit of difference to you, or you're actually checking here first to see what others have to say before you spring cold, hard cash to buy or rent the thing (does anyone even rent any more?), in which case you're one of the people I'm writing this for.
"Cleanflix" presents a tale of profit motive meeting religious impulse to satisfy an unserved demand for bowdlerized film entertainment. These sorts of things always amuse me, since the impulses are so rarely pursued with the purity otherwise subsumed by the motive. In this case, it's the heavily Mormon population of Utah wanting to partake in mass culture without the onus of exposing themselves to corrupting influences, which is to say, they want to watch R-rated movies stripped of the stuff that makes them R-rated, or even PG-13, for that matter, since apparently films like "Pirates of the Caribbean" got the same scissor-wielding editorial treatment from an enterprise called CleanFlicks. Lordy-lord, how they must have had to be careful how they designed the logo for that business!
This all started up in the late 90s, when a Utah theater cut the naughty bits out of James Cameron's "Titanic" to make it safe for its predominantly Mormon clientèle; a video shop then followed suit, and after Paramount Pictures got wind of it and reacted accordingly, an idea was born in the head of a guy named Ray Lines, who promptly co-founded CleanFlicks to provide edited content for what was obviously a large and demanding demographic, never mind pesky things like copyrights and artistic integrity. A booming business was born, and thrived quite handily in Utah and other enclaves of aggrieved morality for a number of years until Hollywood (and most pointedly, the Director's Guild of America) finally said enough is enough, bringing the full weight of its legal arm to bear on the profiteering censors.
That wasn't quite good enough, though, because a seeming loophole existed, enough of one for guys like video shop owner Daniel Thompson to try to squeeze through. Thompson, a profound attention whore and consummate hypocrite, along with various other bottom-feeders, simply found new suppliers once Lines' operation was shut down, and kept at it, nobly defending his illicit enterprise right up to the day Hollywood's lawyers shut him down for good. Thompson even got a bit of extra comeuppance when he was arrested and convicted on a sexual misconduct charge involving minors; amazingly, he served less than two months in jail!
At any rate, "Cleanflix" does a fine job of delineating the whole affair. Anyone interested in issues of censorship, creator's rights, and a particular strain of religious morality that holds great sway in this country is well advised to seek this one out. I found it at my public library, and for once applaud their buyer's good sense in acquiring it.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?