This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
110 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Maybe Not Rated, But Definitely Brilliant
marobertson28 February 2006
The film rating system in this country is governed by a secret panel created by the major film studios more than 35 years ago. Since its inception the MPAA ratings board has functioned as a sort of 'black box' where movies go in one end and a rating comes out the other, with absolutely no transparency or public accountability of the process.

The MPAA rating system is publicly proclaimed to be merely a voluntary industry system that nobody is 'required' to follow. Unfortunately the reality of the movie industry is entirely divorced from these innocuous proclamations. The rating placed on a film largely determines who gets to see it in a theater, and what sort of publicity for the movie will be accepted by television and newspapers. An NC-17 basically guarantees that only the small sliver of the public with access to art house cinemas will ever sit down in a theater to watch the film, and that there will be virtually no way to promote the film to the public.

So, in the real world, the MPAA ratings board wields considerable unchecked power over the film industry. Since the organization is funded and sustained by the major studios, that influence becomes particularly problematic when applied to independent productions. It would be not unlike a small, local merchant having to go to board set up by Wal-Mart and Target to get approval for what he can put out on his shelves.

Kirby Dick approaches this subject with humor, insight, and tenacity. He undertakes to blow the lid off of the black box of the MPAA rating system. In the process he creates a narrative filled with both information and humor. While I will leave his methods as a surprise for the viewer, suffice it say they are both unconventional and effective.

The interspersing of interviews with independent filmmakers who have been forced to do battle with the MPAA to get their movies seen, provides an excellent counterpoint to Dick's quest to expose the star chamber like proceedings of the rating board to the light of day. As well, his side-by-side comparisons of similar films, one receiving an R rating and the other an NC-17, is illustrative of the particular biases present on the ratings board.

If you care deeply about he art of film, This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a must-see. On the other hand if you just want to learn a little something and have a good laugh, this is a good pick for you too.
171 out of 183 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Must See!
dmasursky4 April 2006
This movie is informative, but also funny and clever and kind of mind-blowing. It's not for the faint of heart because it contains quite a bit of graphic footage to illustrate the point that the ratings board is totally arbitrary (in fact, one former board member says there is absolutely no training or standards -- you come in on your first day and start to rate movies). That may seem not to matter, but it matters quite a bit to the film makers whose films are being rated and several appear in the film and make very strong arguments for why the rating their film received was unfair. There are also interviews with several other people (like a free speech lawyer) who add context to Kirby Dick's expose. This really is a must see for anyone who cares about movies and it's a lot of damn fun too.
124 out of 132 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Informative, cheeky and funny as hell!
MaxBorg8923 August 2006
Ever been curious about the American film rating system? Then Kirby Dick's This Film Is Not Yet Rated is perfect. It does to US censorship what Michael Moore has done to others: it makes everyone look like jackasses, mainly because that's what they really are.

The film explains pretty early on, through South Park-style animation, what kind of rating a movie can get in the USA: G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. The last certificate is the most unpleasant one, as a film with that classification won't get a proper distribution. And it's that particular rating that Dick wants to dissect.

This documentary is divided into three sections: the largest one sees various filmmakers (Kimberly Pierce, John Waters, Kevin Smith) revealing the problems they've experienced because of the American ratings board, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). The second section features the director's efforts to uncover the identities of the film raters. You see, the MPAA is supposedly composed of average American parents, doing a fair job. Then how come no one knows who these people are? As the investigation continues, we learn that one board member doesn't even have kids, while several others' offspring are already adults. So what's really going on?

The last part of This Film Is Not Yet Rated focuses on Dick's own censorship trouble, a really interesting version of the movie-within-a-movie gimmick: he sent a rough cut of the documentary to the MPAA, receiving the dreaded NC-17 (since there's some footage coming from other NC-rated films), and so we get to see his frustration as he tries to appeal the controversial decision.

The best part of the film is the first one I mentioned, mainly because we get to know the rules of the game a bit better. Apparently, any kind of "weird sex" is not welcome: oral sex (Boys Don't Cry), threesomes(The Dreamers, American Psycho), gay stuff (Mysterious Skin, Where The Truth Lies), female masturbation (Jersey Girl, a PG-13 movie, almost got an R just because Liv Tyler talks about it)... the list is quite long. Of course, you're better off if your film is endorsed by a major studio. That's why a glimpse of Maria Bello's pubic hair got independent film The Cooler an NC-17, while Sharon Stone doing much more in the audience-baiting Basic Instinct was "appropriate" enough to receive an R. No wonder most filmmakers hate the MPAA! Hell, we even find out that Trey Parker and Matt Stone deliberately put distasteful material in Team America just to make fun of the ratings board.

Another "funny" thing is, the NC-17 is only used against sex. No one ever says anything about on-screen violence. In fact, any movie can have the highest body count ever, and be rated R. If there's no blood, it might even get a PG-13. As people point out, all other countries have the exact opposite attitude, condemning violence rather than sex (I know, from personal experience, that most films rated NC-17 in the US are usually classified "15" or "16" in Europe, while excessive violence tends to lead to an "18").

As someone wisely says in this hilarious, poignant opus, ratings don't really matter. If it's a film a lot of people want to see, no rating in the world can damage it. If it's a film few people want to see, then no rating in the world will save it. That might be true (although I don't necessarily agree: the huge success of The Passion of the Christ was largely due to the rating controversies), but this movie also made me realize that I would definitely not want to be a member of the MPAA. Their criteria are too weird for normal people to understand.
199 out of 218 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Necessary viewing
tomq5p24 January 2007
Since the Hays Code, filmmakers have had a lot more freedom over the content of their films. However, the MPAA ratings board still does exercise a certain de facto censorship power. Most people do not realize this.

"This Film is not Yet Rated" exposes the arbitrariness, secrecy, and bias of the MPAA ratings board and makes the viewer question why movies receive the ratings they do.

Kirby Dick puts together a nice cross-section of directors and "talking heads" who discuss the MPAA ratings board's biases when it comes to realism, sex, violence, gay themes, and other taboo issues in films.

Dozens of major directors have had problems with the MPAA ratings board - they either received the NC-17 (or the old "X") rating or had to cut their films to meet the requirements of the ratings board. Some examples are: Kubrick, Tarantino, Lynch, Woo, Friedkin, Peckinpah, Aronofsky, and countless others.

This film exposes the fact that the ratings board is made up of people who are given NO criteria and NO training for rating films, so they basically use their own personal (and obviously heavily biased) judgments to decide what rating a particular movie should receive.

This is an important film because so few people realize how movies are rated in the U.S. Even fewer realize how problematic (biased, anti-democratic, non-transparent, not accountable) our system is.

It is also well put together, so it is easier to watch than most documentaries.

I would have liked to have heard more comparisons between the U.S. rating system and others worldwide, something that was only briefly touched upon.

9 out of 10
47 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
perhaps not the 'best', but surely my favorite documentary of the year thus far
MisterWhiplash2 September 2006
Kirby Dick is a filmmaker I wasn't aware of before This Film is Noy Yet Rated, but now he is assuredly on my radar, if only for the determination in pulling off his main idea. Like Super Size Me, this documentary has a near-gimmick to it; Dick hires a private investigator in order to track down the anonymous "parents" who decide why a movie will be rated R over PG-13, and NC-17 instead of R. This even leads- more intriguingly- into the more deceptive group of appellant board members of the MPAA. So on the one hand the filmmaker has this extremely entertaining, guerrilla-style aspect to his film, with a hand-held camera in one moment in a fast-food place that draws attention to him, and detectives who will go to any length to get results. On the other hand he gets great interviews and clips and history about the film industry in the US and the near fascist style of the MPAA in relation to the several (corporite) studios.

As a film buff this film already had my interest long before I saw it. For too long the topic of film ratings have both infuriated and fascinated me. Much of what ends up going on with filmmakers's battles with the MPAA to get their R (and indeed the difference between millions of dollars in grosses) instead of an NC-17 is staggering. That Kirby Dick get such insight out of the insiders (two of which former MPAA people, and two who kept anonymous), filmmakers, business people, and other types within the industry, is a good help to add to the basic argument that there is some inherent problems with the current ratings system in the country. This is accentuated in comparisons between NC-17 and R rated sex scenes from other movies, and clips from films that received the NC-17- or close to it- and the inanities and problems filmmakers have to get their whole vision against people who, of course, are not that creative. There are issues of gay sex in movies, how violence is vs. sex in allowance in ratings, and in the end how big business (and religion) are behind the scenes if not pulling strings then giving complete influence.

All of this as a documentary ends up being pulled fantastically off, as it does at the core what a documentary mostly should- stir up conversation about the topic(s), and at the same time still being entertained to an extent. And Kirby Dick even has a slight Michael Moore tinge to him as he goes full-on after his subjects; one of which reminded me of Moore's own confrontation with Charleton Heston, as Dick puts himself in split screen with animated caricatures of his callers. But Dick also is smart enough to put such subject matter with good doses of humor. I loved the little animated explanation as to what each rating means (including dead orphan and Almodovar jokes), and as he revealed with a near relish the full facts on every member (most shockingly the appellate members). Even if you just have a casual interest in movies it should be worth your while, and especially if you're a parent- and try not to let the NC-17 rating deter you as it's in part just in spite of the mirror put up to the ratings board itself- it's especially prudent to see. It's got both tongue-in-cheek and dead-serious aspirations, and all the while making Jack Valenti look worse and worse. It's biased, to be sure, but for the right reasons.
88 out of 97 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Violence Wins Over Sex Every Time
fwomp5 February 2007
Ever wonder who the people are who decide the ratings of films? You know the G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17? I'd personally not thought that much about it simply because I could care less what a film is rated. If it looks good, regardless of its MPAA rating, I'll see it. Not to mention the dichotomy between the American rating style versus European countries.

Ever notice how phobic Americans are when it comes to sex and nudity on screen? We can put a bullet through a hundred heads but show a little pubic hair and you'll get slapped with an NC-17. Why is that? Why are we so afraid to show our kids and the general population a little skin, but we're ready and willing to let them see brain matter? In Europe, the exact opposite is true (they put the higher ratings on violence), and this is brought to the forefront in Kirby Dick's excellent documentary, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.

What Kirby did was infiltrate the MPAA system by finding out who was on this incredibly secretive board so that those who make films — and have them rated by these people — know who stands in judgement of their cinematic work.

Mr. Dick (love his last name by the way) dissects the MPAA system and discovers so many problems as to boggle the mind. There apparently is no tried and true way to rate a film. It pretty much depends on the MPAA raters and how they "feel" it. If they happen to be in a bad mood that day, you're screwed.

The F-word is likely to get you an R rating unless you use it just once. A gay love scene will most likely get you an NC-17 but a "normal" man/woman sex scene (of the exact same type) will get you an R. Homophobia in Hollywood appears to be alive and well.

The most disturbing element is that violence is condoned over sex. What message does this send our society? That violence is more natural than physical attraction? {shiver!} A James Bond film has never been given an R rating (all of them have been lower), but Bond has killed more people than almost any movie character. They get away with this by not showing the blood that results from gunshot wounds. How convenient. But films like BOYS DON'T CRY get slapped with an NC-17 rating because of their sexual content (never is a bullet let fly in Boys Don't Cry).

When Kirby Dick puts up these side-by-side comparisons on screen, it's smackingly obvious how biased the MPAA board is toward human sexuality but very accepting of violence.

Kirby hires a private detective to help him reveal who the MPAA raters are and to dispel the myth that these are infallible people. On the contrary, they are extremely fallible.

My advice: don't go and see a flick based on its MPAA rating. Go see it because it interests you.
72 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Fast paced, sometimes zany slam of the MPAA's de facto movie censorship program
roland-10414 September 2006
Fast paced, absorbing, at times comical exposé of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system. While it is in name a "voluntary" system, i.e., a filmmaker can choose whether to submit a film to MPAA for rating purposes, in fact the theater chains that promise wide exposure and revenues for a film they screen will rarely touch a movie that is unrated or that receives the most restrictive rating, NC-17 (no "child" 17 or younger admitted under any circumstances.) The ratings are allegedly created by a panel of "average" parents of school age children, according to long time MPAA CEO, Jack Valenti, and other officials. There are no experts, e.g., no psychologists who study the impact of media on kids' attitudes and behavior. Panel members are selected by the rating committee chair, Joan Graves. Members' identities are kept secret to "avoid pressures" on their decision making.

Among other things, director Kirby Dick discovers that (a) there are no explicit criteria or guidelines for ratings; (b) ditto for selection of raters (who, if they work full time, receive annual salaries of $30,000); (c) one recent rater was childless; the children of several others were adults; (d) raters frequently discuss films with industry representatives, arguably the most important source of "pressure" on their decisions; (e) majority votes determine the recommended rating, but these votes are not binding; (f) in case of ties (there are eight voting members, including Ms. Graves), Ms. Graves also is empowered to cast a tie-breaking judgment; and (g) there is an appeals process.

However, the appeals board is composed exclusively of representatives of the major studios, distributors and exhibition chains, and rarely do they controvert the initial rating. This is no surprise, since the MPAA is entirely financed by the six largest studios (responsible for 90% of the films released domestically) and their conglomerate corporate media owners (who control 95% of all media outlets in the U.S.) Details of all rating board and appeal decisions are kept secret. To create the illusion of transparency, two clergymen, representing Roman Catholics and Protestants, always sit in as observers at appeals hearings. But they too are required not to disclose information on the appeal decision process.

Compared to a number of other rating systems that exist in various countries worldwide, the MPAA approach is by far the most secretive, and contrary to every other system, it is far more restrictive of sexual content than violence. Kirby Dick also cites examples that strongly suggest greater bias (i.e., greater likelihood of getting an NC-17 rating) against films depicting gay/lesbian sex scenes than those with heterosexual scenes.

Dick mixes illustrative film clips, talking heads, historical notes on the evolution of ratings, a rundown on what appear to be the implicit criteria for ratings; a stalking investigation to discover the identities of raters and appeal board members; and his personal experience in submitting an earlier cut of this film to MPAA for a rating (it got an NC-17 for sexually explicit content). Atom Egoyan, Kimberly Peirce, Kevin Smith and John Waters are among independent filmmakers interviewed by Dick. Ms. Peirce raises the interesting notion that MPAA ratings may also be more biased against films with scenes connoting female sexual pleasure than films showing male pleasure.

Dick generally maintains a tone of wry humor, especially in showing us his day-by-day use of private investigators to track down and identify raters. There's almost a Keystone Cops flavor to the stalking antics of the women PIs he has hired, with Dick along for the ride. His re-creation of phone conversations with Joan Graves and the MPAA Chief Counsel, when he protests the rating of his own film, are also as funny as they are biased. (He uses animation to visually depict these officials as mean spirited grumps in split screen scenes that simultaneously show real time footage of Dick himself at his end of these conversations.) Dick is less successful in his review of information suggesting the implicit or inferable criteria raters use, based on film content and actual ratings. He zips through too much information too fast for anybody to absorb. Still, this is a bravura piece of advocacy journalism. The film gives us ample information to conclude that the MPAA system of corporate control of ratings, when combined with control of film distribution and screening based on these ratings, effectively results in a clever censorship arrangement that would certainly violate First Amendment rights were it not for the illusion of "voluntariness" that is perhaps the most ingenious aspect of this system.

Anybody is free to make a film about anything, of course. But whether it will be screened, or even advertised, let alone able to return revenues sufficient to defray the costs of production, is a very carefully controlled process. And what is the point of making a film that will not be seen? As in political campaigning, free speech is hardly free. Those with the most corporate clout rule both the campaigning and movie making businesses. What's worse, in our characteristic American manner, we shrink puritanically from sex on screen but remain inured to the effects of violence. My grade: 7.5/10 (low B+) (Seen on 09/10/06)
60 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting and insightful, but more for film fans than casual watchers
DonFishies20 April 2007
Alright, let's just say it right from the start: the MPAA sucks. They make good films turn into films that are hacked up just to fit their 'moral' agenda, and they are the bane of the existence of Hollywood filmmakers. Being from Canada, I have the benefit of a much fairer system, but one that is affected by the MPAA nonetheless. So when a film like This Film is Not Yet Rated comes out, I definitely become interested. And interesting is what this film is.

The documentary is about the NC-17 rating primarily, and the people and groups fighting against it. When it is not showing interviews and clips about the horror stories in trying to get director's films cut to a suitable R or PG-13 rating, it is about director and star Kirby Dick's hired private investigators trying to get the names of the members of the MPAA ratings board.

Watching the film is a bit of an on and off experience.

On because the interviews with directors like Kevin Smith, Atom Egoyan, Jamie Babbit, Matt Stone, and Wayne Kramer are absolutely fascinating to listen to. They talk about the troubles they had with the MPAA, show the "obscene" footage from their films, and even offer some ideas as to how the MPAA can change for the better, rather than completely tear the company up to pieces. All of these clips are excellently edited together, and in some instances, offer some pretty amusing anecdotes. Seeing the offending clips from the films was also interesting, as just simply talking about them would defeat the purpose of the documentary itself (which thankfully, originally got an NC-17 for having the clips in the film).

These interviews also offer a lot of moments talking about the rules of the MPAA itself. Listening to how ridiculous some get can be hilarious, but it is also enlightening. For someone who is into film and only knows the basics of the MPAA, it offers a lot of information on the final process a movie has to go through before it makes it to the theatre. The clips offered a lot more information than I imagined, and they elevate the film greatly.

Another element I liked was showing the hypocrisies of the MPAA, and interview footage of former head Jack Valenti himself. It made the film feel a whole lot more complete, and gave it more of an authentic circular viewpoint. If they had simply just included the viewpoints of the filmmakers, journalists, authors, doctors and lawyers (like I half expected them to show), than they would not have nearly had as much credibility as they end up having. Of course, these moments are practically the funniest in the film, but they still offer plenty of intriguing insights. I think some comparisons to other country's film rating systems probably could have only enlivened this credibility even more.

Where I think the film fails and becomes off is in the almost obsessive search to find out the identity of the MPAA's raters. I understand that it is pivotal to the entirety of the film, but it just drags the film down into depravity and ridiculousness. It shows these moments in an amusing light, but they really are not that funny. They offer a bit too much information in some sequences (like blurring out license plate numbers, but having the private investigator say the numbers anyway), and the payoff just does not feel entirely proper. It does not have the intensity or the postmodern awareness that the interview clips do. They just feel kind of boring, and in some parts, unnecessary. Dick was already exposing the fraudulence and downright deceitful nature of the MPAA. Did he really need to go so far as to expose everything imaginable?

I am unsure of why it the exposing got to me so much, but it just did not feel totally right in a lot of cases. I liked how much dedication Dick and his crew had for the material, but it feels more like two different films than it does one cohesive whole. The information does not become overwhelming in any scene, but it does feel like overkill in some parts. The film is just over ninety minutes long, but it feels like it could have been trimmed. And most of that trimming could have probably come from scenes involving the private investigators. They just are nowhere near as interesting as the insight and horror stories offered in the interviews and film clips.

This Film is Not Yet Rated is an interesting documentary, and it offers a lot of insight that I seriously doubted it would. It is definitely a recommended watch for anyone who is interested in the film-making process, but for anyone else, it may just be something to casually watch part of and then turn off. I will hand it to Dick though. The final product is something I never thought the MPAA would have passed with any rating.

27 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very good insight in American censorship and media manipulation
siderite20 January 2007
America is the land of the free, so in order to constrain people to do what you want them to do, you have to let them think it's their choice. How do you do that? You create a completely anonymous committee, supposedly composed of concerned parents, to rate the films that appear and, depending on that rating, they will get more or less media coverage, distribution, target audience size. You also finance this body with the money of the seven largest film studios in the US. This functioning censorship committee is called the MPAA.

The film is highly biased, to a point where it gets a little annoying, but the information contained in it is sound, proved and makes one think about the way public opinion is manipulated, ever so slightly, towards a desired average point of view. If you ever wondered how Americans can seem so ordinary, yet have completely different opinions about the same subjects as any other people, then this movie will answer part of that question. Very insightful is the presentation of the seven major film studios who own 95% of the American film industry, parts of larger conglomerates that own 90% of all mass-media. Also interesting, the role of the clergy in movie rating. Yes, I did say clergy, as in priests. In the appeals commission there are always an episcopalian priest and a catholic one. No other religions get to add their input.

A must see movie, not a conspiracy theory film, but certainly one that is against the system. The system here being the absurd movie rating system of the MPAA.
58 out of 66 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Refreshing. Not perfect, but pretty *expletive removed* good.
BroadswordCallinDannyBoy22 September 2006
A look into the mysterious organization that decides what rating a film is given. And all sorts of other issues/arguments that are created because of it. Numerous actors, directors, producers, former MPAA raters and critics share their thoughts on the good and bad of the highly secretive organization.

I have always found "rating reasons" funny and often absurd, which is why I make my own when writing these things. I have also always liked to look into second opinion on things so maybe whoever reads my little IMDb reviews will get that from them. Since, the often disturbing fact for film makers is the rating is something they have to live with and discussing it with the people who decided it is virtually not an option. And that ultimately decides what theaters decided to show it and how much, which is essentially how films money.

The reason as many of you know for the infamous NC-17 rating is sexual content, especially if it is explicit, and that is basically the focus of this film. Which is both good and bad. Good, because they do a pretty good job comparing R-rated and NC-17 rated sex scenes which are not that different. But bad, because the issue of violence (in my opinion the most potentially objectionable thing shown in film) is attended to on a small scale. There are violent PG-13 movies (Ah-nuld's "The 6th Day" for one) which include bone breaking, dismemberment, and you get the picture. While on the other side you have R-rated movies with really minimal or much more accurate depiction of violence (Michael Mann's "Heat" for one). Yet violence as entertainment is condoned, but showing kids what violence really looks like is not. Darren Aronofsky and Kevin Smith make the film's only points on violence and it'll leave you wanting for more.

Also there wasn't a comparison to other countries rating system, just a mention that those systems are a little less absurd, which is true if you look at the rating sections on most IMDb film profiles, but some thought here would have been invaluable to this film's argument.

However, this remains a pleasantly fresh documentary that many, but mainly John Waters (haha), have been waiting for. 8/10

Not Rated, contains: sexual material and some violent clips - There are many clips of sex scenes shown, but are shown and discussed from a critical perspective. The few violent scenes are discussed in the same manner. So bring your kids! They'll finally know what "it's not for you" means.
55 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Superb...and frightening
preppy-318 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Excellent documentary on the MPAA--the company that rates movies. It has been accused of favoring major companies (with less stringent ratings) than independent companies. Filmmakers are interviewed about what they had to cut and why to avoid the dreaded NC-rating. Some of the revelations are at once funny...and shocking. To find out more about the board a lesbian detective is hired to find out who comprises the board---the results are interesting.

They also talk about the appeals process--when a filmmaker disagrees with the rating and files a complaint. A separate group of people are brought in to view the movie and give their opinion--but it was never revealed who these people are. Here we find out who they are--and the revelations are downright shocking. It shows that the MPAA is a censor board (despite what it says) and have a stranglehold on movies and what they're allowed to show. Basically, EVERYONE should see this film. Shocking, hilarious and thoroughly engrossing. HIGHLY recommended.
18 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This movie needed to be made
antibear29 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a documentary about the US ratings system. It argues the same grievances that independent film makers have been complaining about for years. Specifically, that independent films are given less guidance than studios (which own the MPAA), that homosexual content is treated more harshly than equivalent straight sexuality, and that sex is rated more puritanically than violence.

I think these facts are obvious, but seeing clips of films side-by-side truly hammers it home.

Film maker Kirby Dick presents a quick-paced, laugh-provoking case, although he gives short shrift to alternative views. One should go into the movie understanding that Dick advocates a specific view, much like Michael Moore, but this doesn't diminish the entertaining and thought-provoking elements of the documentary.

Mild spoiler:

Controversially, Kirby Dick challenges the secretiveness of ratings. MPAA chiefs have always asserted that the raters are a group of "ordinary parents" with children from 5 to 18 years old. Well, Dick hires a private detective to find out.

The narrative thread of the documentary involves tracking them down one by one. The detectives methods produce some deep chuckles. In the end Dick shows us face shots, and vital statistics for every rater. I must admit I was a little squeamish when they're digging through a rater's trash, but the results are fascinating. Many of the rater's kids have long since grown into their twenties and thirties. (Still, I wonder whether it's fair for a documentary to name their names, and even show photos of their houses.)

Finally, to top it all off, Dick has his own rough cut rated. Actually, there's been some news about this too. Apparently they made a copy of it, which may be illegal because of the very laws that the MPAA pushed through. They counter that Dick is just seeking free publicity for his movie. Could be, but he has plenty of it.


Bottom line, if you care how films are made in the US, you should make a point of seeing this film. Presumably it'll be on IFC later this year, uncut. That's more than can be said for many artist's work, and you should find out why.
24 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Nutshell Review: This Film Is Not Yet Rated
DICK STEEL25 March 2007
The Motion Pictures Association of America's ratings system comes under scrutiny in this documentary. The judgement that movies are given G, PG-13, R or NC17 are taken a look into, as its deemed quite biased and with great mystery that films are rated based on some arbitrary criteria, from a group of chosen anonymous few in highly non-transparent means.

It's quite fun as director Kirby Dick digs into the system to try and look for answer, with hilarious results, especially when dealing with the bureaucracy. In particular, the main gripe here is how films are given the NC17 rating. Films are compared with each other, and it seemed that the board is more tolerant towards violence than sex, or in particular, female pleasure. Filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky, Kimberly Peirce, Atom Egoyan are interviewed for their views on the system, and reveal their puzzlement at the situation too.

I thought This Film Is Not Yet Rated brought out the hypocrisy of the entire system, that "absolute power corrupts absolutely", that if Kirby Dick is to believed, then there are rules and regulations set which have been breached, especially on transparency, and the primary concern that the raters should be independent and not influenced by filmmakers, studios and the likes.

I also enjoyed the entire investigations and social engineering techniques, including things like dumpster diving and impersonation, and exploiting the innate nature of man to want to help out strangers in distress, even though they are anonymous over the phone, and are "nice". You've got to salute their perseverance, all to get to the results of unravelling the mystery being those secret raters of movies, and those on the Appeals board that filmmakers can go to for redress.

The bits of animation in the movie, combined with the sharp no-holds barred revelation and hypothesis and snippets of movies which suffered the NC17 rating, made this a very enjoyable, smart and fun documentary to sit through, especially when it delivers sucker punch after sucker punch at establishment, and makes a mockery of the powers that be.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Thoughts on NC-17
lorraine_hutter9 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was saddened to learn the fate of movies that receive an NC-17 rating, that they don't get marketed properly, and they are locked out of some opportunities by virtue of their rating and nothing more. That definitely smacks of censorship to me.

This made me think there ought to be a system, maybe a website, where moviegoers can seek out NC-17 movies so that we can judge for ourselves if we want to at least try to see them if/when they are released on DVD.

I think the popularity of independent films demonstrates a willingness on the part of moviegoers to seek out good movies marketed outside the studio system, so a website listing NC-17 movies available on DVD would be very popular, provided it also contained adequate summaries and trailers to view.

That being said, I am glad the MPAA exists, and while it appears there is an obvious need for improvement, without the MPAA or an organization like it, I doubt I would be able to sit through a lot of movies being released today, as I count myself among the "sensitive viewers" that get warned before graphic material appears on television.

Similarly, if a movie is rated R, I need to know why. If it is for sex, fine, great even, but anything containing graphic violence, I need to pass on. This has caused me to miss some movies made by some of my favorite actors, but there are certain visuals I do not want in my head and movie makers need to at least respect that, even if they don't understand it.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Entertaining, But Not as Scathing as It Could Have Been
evanston_dad12 July 2007
Kirby Dick's expose of the MPAA's ratings process only confirms the suspicion that motion picture ratings are virtually worthless, arbitrarily assigned by an elite panel who purport to have our country's children's best interests at heart, but who seem to think that an exposed breast is more harmful to them than seeing a gunshot to the head.

It's absolutely infuriating that the country's churches have a seat on the ratings boards and a say in what content is or is not suitable for consumption. It's infuriating that an NC-17 rating exists at all (the board is essentially usurping the judgement and decision-making abilities of parents), but doubly infuriating that it's used as a punishment to "encourage" filmmakers to alter their films so that they're more palatable for mainstream film goers. For a while I was kind of sad that home video and the Internet seems to be supplanting movie theatres as the preferred venue for watching films, but now I appreciate the democratizing effect of companies like Netflix and Blockbuster, who have made great filmmakers less reliant on corporate theatre chains to get their films distributed and seen.

As a documentary, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is rather disorganized. Dick has good points to make, but their impact is blunted by tangents and off-topic tirades. Dick hires a private detective to track down the identities of the ratings board, and spends far too much of his 96 minutes following the details of that investigation. On the plus side, it's great to see directors and actors like Kimberly Peirce, Maria Bello and John Waters given a venue to vent their frustrations at the ratings practice.

One of the main points Dick makes, and one I heartily agree with, is that the ratings board focuses far more energy on censoring sex in films than they do violence, a point that is unintentionally driven home by none other than the ratings board chairman herself towards the film's climax. Dick asks why his documentary received an NC-17 rating and she cites the sexual content that appears in some of the clips of films that have received NC-17 ratings sprinkled throughout the documentary. She seems to have no problem with some of the very violent content included in clips from some of those very same movies. What an idiot.

Grade: B+
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great eye opener about the inner workings of the MPAA rating system.
pr2212 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Honestly, before seeing this film, I didn't think it'd be all that interesting, just another movie to pass time. After watching this film my opinion on the subject and the film itself has changed dramatically. Those of you who haven't watched and thought as I did that "there's very little that goes on that I already don't know" will be surprised.

The people who rate these movies aren't just your average moms and dads, but clergy members, movie studio heads, and theater owners. All these people inherently decide what's best for you, regardless of whether or not it's in your interest or not.

Even better, the rating system is not up for question, those who rate movies are hidden from public view. Apparently this is so that they can't be pressured. What's funny is that they're in direct contact with studio heads on a regular basis, but apparently the public itself (who the movies are marketed to) is a bigger threat to the opinion of a reviewer than studio heads themselves.

The financial effect these ratings have on film makers is much bigger than you can imagine, an NC-17 movie gets very little exposure outside of some theater's in big cities. This is pretty much a death sentence for a movie. So film makers are given the choice of making a MPAA/Religiously correct movie or not have it shown in 99% of theaters in the U.S.

This was a great educational movie, that was very entertaining containing both comedy and information. Very worthwhile.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A must-see for anyone who regularly goes to the movies
jellyneckr26 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As anyone who sat through Hostel earlier this year would probably agree, the MPAA hasn't been doing their job in quite some time. The MPAA has always been a controversial subject, but it hasn't been until relatively recently that it has become a huge issue. 1999 is where it seemingly began with the release of such films as Eyes Wide Shut, American Pie, But I'm a Cheerleader, the South Park movie, and Boys Don't Cry all receiving NC-17 ratings, until scissors were taken to earn them the more commercially successful R rating. It is from 1999-2006 that This Film is Not Yet Rated is primarily concerned with. It details the past history of the MPAA and pre-1999 films that have had trouble with the ratings board, but it's the past seven years that get the majority of the topic time here and rightfully so as with each passing year, the MPAA becomes more corrupt. Director Kirby Dick talks to some of the best filmmakers working in the industry today including Kevin Smith, John Waters, Jamie Babbit, Atom Egoyan (albeit too briefly), Mary Harron, and Matt Stone about their past experiences with the MPAA and how frusturating the process is. Some are able to laugh at the situation while others are still are understandably very angry about what happened in their scenarios. All of the directors, however, come off as quite genuine and interesting people. There's no pretentious that one normally finds in interviews with most Hollywood directors. There are a few minor flaws with This Film is Not Yet Rated. While the point is made that extremely explicit graphic violence is perfectly okay to earn an R Rating but a realistic sex scene, or any kind of sex really, will earn an NC-17 rating, it could have been discussed a few minutes longer. Also missing is the fact that male nudity is more acceptable to the rating boards than female nudity. Regardless, This Film is Not Yet Rated stands as one of the boldest and best movies of the year. A must-see for anyone who regularly visits the multiplex. 9/10
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An interesting expose'
Darguz5 January 2011
In the movie "Dragonfly", Kevin Costner's character says the "F" word once. At that point in the director's commentary, Tom Shadyac says, "...You can shoot a guy 3,000 times and get a 'PG-13', but if you say the 'F' word *twice* it's automatically an 'R'. I'll let that be its own comment." This was when I first started really thinking about the movie rating system as such, though the subject of our society's (by which I mean primarily America) bizarre, obsessive, unhealthy attitude toward nudity and sex is something which I have thought about for a long time. We are obsessed with nudity and sex -- as the old saying goes, "Sex sells," (which is understood to mean nudity, which of course is *not* the same as sex) -- and at the same time, apparently utterly terrified of it. This split has led us, as a society, to a point of hysterical insanity on the subject, and given us the highest incidence of teen pregnancy in the world, and by FAR the highest incidence of rape -- close to 10 times higher than the next-highest country.

This film offers a greatly detailed perspective on one major manifestation of the issue, the movie censorship system -- sorry, I mean "rating" system. The side-by-side comparison of R and NC-17 scenes was particularly revealing. It just boggles my mind that people get so twisted up on this subject.

I love the irony that the very ratings board scrutinized in this film was required to watch it. If there are any honest members on that board, perhaps it got them to think a little more about what they do and how they operate.

(P.S. the explanation of the ratings near the beginning is hilarious!)
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Required viewing for film buffs of all stripes...
MrGKB6 March 2008
...and particularly for those interested in issues of censorship and the actual business of film-making, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" is an excellent piece of documentary journalism. Director Kirby Dick, who seems to have made a career for himself illuminating the sort of human oddities that become the subjects of ReSearch Publications, takes on the MPAA's film rating board this time around, and pretty much nails the organization's secretive and capricious hide to the wall. Interspersing interviews of various directors whose work has run afoul of the MPAA board (Darren "Requiem For a Dream" Aronofsky, Mary "American Psycho" Harron, and John "Pecker" Waters, to name a few) with a private investigation into the identities of the members of the ratings board, Dick paints a damning portrait of the board's covert and arbitrary nature, and limns America's puritanical repression of sexual expression and its hypocritical love affair with violence. Ultimately, Dick shows that it's all about the money, as so much of American culture is; the MPAA serves less as a watchdog of the industry's moral responsibility to its customers as it does a guardian of industry profits and public image. This comes as no surprise to any intelligent observer of the industry, of course, but given the ever-shrinking attention span of the American body politic, Dick's message is one that needs to be repeated as much as possible. The sad thing is that the people who would most benefit from seeing "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" are the ones least likely to watch it.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
If You're Waiting for Blockbuster to Carry This Film... Don't
dvd12321 July 2007
After waiting 6 months for Blockbuster Online to carry this film, I gave up and rented it from Netflix. Needless to say, after seeing it, I now know why Blockbuster isn't carrying it and understand why they will never carry it. It's because this film criticizes them for not carrying NC-17 films, an action which supports a gender biased, sexual orientation biased, racially biased, violence promoting, mercenary, puritanical, duplicitous and just plain idiotic system- the MPAA ratings.

Although I'm a tremendous cinephile, It's been a long time since I've been in a movie theater, preferring instead to watch everything on DVD. After seeing this film and witnessing the self serving manner in which the MPAA acts (under the guise of 'serving' the public), I'm glad that they get a substantially smaller cut from my $.75 DVD rentals than they do from $10 movie tickets. If I could watch films and not give them a single penny, I would. The studios have been tremendously powerful since they were formed- the manner in which they wield the MPAA ratings as a weapon to silence opposition and independent thought is one of many ways in which this absolute power is abused.

The public isn't served, the film makers aren't served, the only people making out like bandits in this equation are the studios. The independent film maker has no chance in this scenario. This small group of studio execs (and, every day, getting smaller) makes the decision as to what we can and cannot watch and can effectively silence anyone that has a different perspective or who can't afford to pay tribute- just one more example of the wealthier getting ever wealthier and shrinking in numbers while the poor keep getting poorer and growing.

It's not democratic, it's not just, it's not American and it's not right.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Go to the MPAA Website
ClaysBoiGood24 March 2007
Go to the MPAA website ( on the main page it says to enter your favorite movie. I entered "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" I wonder what would happen if people kept entering this film in there?

Kirby Dick along with his PI, Becky Altringer, did an excellent job of exposing a lot of the lesser known facts about the operations and proceedings of the MPAA.

There should be laws in place to allow the general public to have some control or at least more knowledge about a group that has such an impact on society. It should definitely be more of a "give and take".

What I'm wondering is... where does the MPAA get their funding?
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting subject ruined by irrelevant material and incorrect message
room10216 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was anxious to see this documentary because of its subject and because Kirby Dick's "Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)" was excellent.

Overall, this documentary has interesting stuff to offer the viewer. But I'm disappointed and a bit annoyed by several things:

1. There was no point in showing the entire "private investigation" saga. The whole thing could have been done behind the scenes, giving us only the results. Although private investigation could be interesting, I don't see what point it served except for stretching the movie in additional 45 minutes.

2. What's the point of telling us about the private life of the private investigator (no pun intended)? Does the fact that she is gay has ANYTHING to do with the MPAA? So the MPAA "doesn't like gay sex" and the investigator is gay... therefore... what? Therefore the MPAA hates the investigator or something?

3. I'm not an expert, but does it really take an investigator a whole month to get several names? What's so difficult in doing any one of the following:

  • Writing the license plates and getting the owners' details. Come on, any decent P.I. with minimum resources/connections can do that! (and don't tell me "that's illegal" - investigators do worse things than that)

  • Follow the car to the person's house.

  • These people are getting paid by the MPAA. It's a salary that has to be declared and paid taxes for. Can't the P.I. get this info from the income tax (again, with the right resources/connections)

4. OK, so the "big finish" of the movie was telling us the names of the raters? Hmm... OK. You could have told us that in the first 5 minutes.

5. The message everyone is trying to give is: "It's OK to show sex, but it's not OK to show violence (either cartoonish or not)". OK, this is C-R-*-P. I agree with the first part, but what are you trying to "sell" us? That there SHOULD be censorship/rating on violence? That action movies ARE the cause of violence on the street? That sane and rational people can't tell the difference between fictitious violence on the screen and actual acts of violence? Do me a favor.

Don't get me wrong. There are some very interesting issues in this documentary and I learned a lot about the MPAA and how difficult it is for the indie film makers. But I was left with a bad taste because half of the movie could have been left in the editing room while providing us with the same knowledge, and it tries to push the "free sex" message so hard that it ruins its own slogan of "free decision" by telling us we can't distinguish reality from fiction when it comes to action movies.
21 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A film they REALLY don't want you to see
StevePulaski16 December 2011
The MPAA's intentions are good, but their execution is biased, corrupt, and dangerous. Kirby Dick, director of This Film is Not Yet Rated, explores the industry deeper to get the answers on who rates the films people make and what they consider R vs. NC-17.

A number of filmmakers have been forced to edit their films to avoid an NC-17 rating. At first glance, people might not see what is so wrong with that rating. We think, doesn't that mean your film achieves the highest rating possible? That it's explicit, vulgar, etc? Isn't that a good thing? Well, in theory, yes. We think the greatest or the strongest is the best, but having an NC-17 rating attached to your film leaves you open for controversy and almost entirely closed for profit.

NC-17 films aren't usually put in a wide-release. Meaning you'll have to resort to finding very cheap theaters to show your films, which will contribute to a very, very low box office revenue. Also, advertising won't be easy seeing as you'll have to wait until after 9:00 PM to show commercials for your film. Not to mention by occupying the NC-17 rating you're blacklisting your movie from places like Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, etc. It's a dangerous move to occupy the rating, but brave films continue to do it which is something that should be commended.

I've always looked at the MPAA with an odd face because of their uneven consistency for rating films. Of course, every film is different, but why films like 2011's The Way needed an R rating because of one brief sequence of marijuana is beyond me. Drugs don't sit right with the MPAA. According to the website, if a drug, including a cigarette, is shown at one point during the film it automatically can't be lower than PG-13, which is understandable. But the fact that a brief scene of drugs, like in The Way can be deemed an R is unnecessary.

Violence is another concept that somehow doesn't register with the MPAA. Robert Rodriguez's Sin City was a grim, bloody, violent, and brutal film but manages to sneak by with an R rating somehow. Compare that to The Cooler, another fantastic film, which was threatened with an NC-17 rating for showing a three second glimpse of Maria Bello's pubic hair. It's preposterous.

We've already established the MPAA is incredibly uneven in their actions towards violence and sex. Instead of looking at the true moral of the film, they look at the context and whether or not it's like that for unnecessary purposes or like that to inform. Scorsese's Casino was almost stamped with an NC-17 because of foul language, when really, it wasn't doing it to be gratuitous, but to show how the mobsters really behaved and spoke. To even threaten to stamp the film with an NC-17 rating is a joke.

I haven't spoke much about This Film is Not Yet Rated because it makes me think about the MPAA as a whole. The film is about filmmaker Kirby Dick who goes on a journey using private investigators to uncover dirt about who is rating the films people see. That's right, the people who rate films G through NC-17 are nameless to the public. Right off the bat, that's an unorthodox statement. Movies are released to the public, but the people who decide how movies are released to the public aren't? One person in the film is astounded how the film industry is such a public state of affairs, yet this one group who is so large has snuck under the radar and the individuals have almost all been nameless, and they play such an important role in every film.

This Film is Not Yet Rated is a wake-up call for the public, a daring move on the industry, and a film that won't take "no" or "keep out" for an answer. Dick should be commended for his persistent efforts, and should also be looked up to for doing something no filmmaker with a bigger name could do before.

Starring: Kirby Dick, Kevin Smith, John Waters, Jack Valenti, Kimberly Peirce, Alison Anders, and Becky Altringer. Directed by: Kirby Dick.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Satisfying middle finger to the MPAA
Jonny_Numb25 July 2007
"This Film is Not Yet Rated" has a fine moderator in writer-director Kirby Dick, who comes across as a less imposing muckracker than Michael Moore, but no less cunning. His target is the Motion Picture Association of America (the MPAA), long the bastion of regulating the content of American films via the now-notorious ratings system; the focus is primarily on films and filmmakers who have had their work threatened with the commercially suicidal NC-17, tidbits regarding the incestuous relationship between the anonymous ratings board and the conglomerates that control the mass media, and a private investigator who, with the assistance of Dick's camera, finds out the identities of who is (was?) currently serving on the board. "This Film" is at its best when culling anecdotes from directors who have been "slapped" with the NC-17, and consequently forced to edit their work down for the more marketable R; Dick also gets good interview footage with film historians, critics, marketing heads, and former raters that bring considerable insight to the organization. That being said, "This Film" falters in its private-investigator subplot, which plays like a Michael Moore stunt writ large, and while coming to a payoff at the very end, brings the film to a halt every time it interrupts the directors' stories--with the intended effect of humanizing the subject through an outsider's eyes, it merely blunts the edge and comes across as heavy-handed. That being said, "This Film" is still a fun and very revealing documentary about, as Dick puts it, "much ado about nothing."
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
cant find this movie
ftnmaster2 March 2007
This is the most important movie any movie goer can see It is very important for those under 17 especially. Right now this movie has been released for sale but you go into a best buy or a circuit city and they don't even have it listed. as if it doesn't even exist.I went to a special video store and they were "out of stock for special order only" There is obviously a vast MPAA conspiracy to keep this movie from being seen, let alone being bought by the regular shoppers. This movie should have been in every theater, and shown for free if necessary.There are so many great movies that fall under the radar many foreign films with content that can not get anything other than a NC 17 rating that need to be seen, and with the questionable practices by the MPAA these movies are only released to art house theaters.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed