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Kevin Smith Fights With The MPAA To Get a PG-13 Rating For His New Movie

By Andrew Sanford | Film | June 10, 2024 |

By Andrew Sanford | Film | June 10, 2024 |


Kevin Smith’s first film, Clerks, was released in theaters almost 30 years ago. It features a lot of vulgar language. Like, a lot. There is an in-depth discussion about snowballing. One conversation revolves entirely around how many different people a character has performed fellatio on. A woman has sex with a dead guy (though we don’t see it happen). It is a wild flick and, rightfully, rated R.

The filmmaker has continued to be himself throughout his ensuing career. He remains vulgar but has also softened over time. Smith has had a daughter, directed some television, and grown as a human being and an artist. Society has changed as well. What was considered inappropriate in 1994 can now be seen on primetime television. You may not hear a conversation about spitting c** back in someone’s mouth but you might get close!

This is all good! Society should change and update. Some old practices and codes should be updated. Language evolves constantly. Our tastes develop. We are in a much different world than we were in 1994. Although, as some things change, others stay the same. Kevin Smith is still making movies and has a new one due out this summer. Like Clerks, it is getting an R rating, but Smith disagrees with it this time.

While speaking with Michael Rosenbaum on his Inside Of You podcast, Smith revealed that his new film, The 4:30 Movie, was given an R rating from the MPAA and that he appealed the decision. “The 4:30 Movie is done. Today I just had an MPAA appeals hearing for the rating,” he told Rosenbaum. “They gave us an R rating on a movie I intended to be PG-13. My argument for the appeals was very much that I was like there’s three things I know how to do in this world: I can play foosball really well, I know how to walk two German Shepherds on a tandem leash, and I know how to make an R-rated movie.”

The filmmaker continued, adding, “I said, so I know not how to make an R-rated movie as well, that’s why I intended to make a PG-13 movie with this. The fact that you guys made it R means that this sweet little paean to youth about 16-year-olds in 1986, who hop from one theater to another who, yes, make a lot of sex jokes, but no more than any other teen movie, is the equivalent to The Human Centipede… How on Earth are these two movies in the same category?”

When Smith pushed for an explanation for the film’s rating, he was told that there was too much innuendo. “They just said, ‘Yeah, but it was just like a lot of innuendo,’” He said. “But I was like, ‘yeah of course, but there’s no more innuendo than in the average, like, 8 PM sitcom…’ They were kind of admitting too they’re like, ‘Well, yeah, there’s soft Rs, there’s hard Rs, and you’re right; we had a hard time coming up with the rating on this,’ and they were also not 100% committed to it.”

In the end, Smith did not win his appeal with the MPAA. He then calls into question whether the ratings should exist at all. “I was, like, look, I know we’re never going to figure this out on this phone call, but what you’re telling me is, like, a movie like this can be rated the same as a movie like Human Centipede, perhaps the system is faulty, or at this point, let’s be honest, unnecessary.”

The writer/director is taking things in stride. “You win some, you lose some, and I’ve won a lot with them. I came close, though. That’s the thing … There’s nothing honestly that I could have said to make the difference, I don’t believe so,” he told Rosenbaum. It is not his first time dealing with the ratings board, nor the last. Things are different than they were in 1994, but some things stay the same. Time is a flat circle, and that circle is c** being orally swapped back and forth between lovers (or friends).