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Time Out says

Silky ex-Washington player Jack Valenti was the formative president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) from 1966 to 2004, and this amusing documentary takes a gonzo swipe at him and his lasting influence on his former employer, the secretive and conservative body responsible for slapping ratings on all films released in the US. It’s the restrictive ‘NC-17’ rating – a portent of commercial death in America – which most interests Dick, who contends in lively fashion, and with the help of ample clips and contributors including John Waters, Kimberly Pierce and Atom Egoyan, that the MPAA has one rule for violence, ‘straight’ sex and studio films and quite another for independent material that strays from middle American values, such as the transgender frolics of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ or the mild scenes of gay and group sex in ‘Where the Truth Lies’.

Point made with wit and verve, Dick then questions the anonymity granted to the MPAA’s LA-based panel of raters (all the MPAA will reveal is that they are parents – which should itself set alarm bells ringing) and embarks on a flippant mission to uncover their identities with the help of a likeable duo of private investigators. It’s here that Dick engages the spirit of ‘Supersize Me’ and lets flag any further serious analysis of exactly why the ‘NC-17’ rating is such a death-knell for independent filmmakers such as Pierce and Waters (although perhaps that’s more obvious to American viewers). Dick’s tabloid tactics – stalking the offices of the MPAA, rummaging through bins – are a fun diversion but obscure deeper analysis. Still, his own, final tussle with the MPAA and its Appeals Board is a neat and illuminating coup.
Written by Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Rated:18
  • Release date:Tuesday 1 August 2006
  • Duration:97 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Kirby Dick
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