BULLY fights for and wins its PG-13 from MPAA

Featured Critic; Toronto, Canada (@filmfest_ca)
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BULLY fights for and wins its PG-13 from MPAA
A victory for Lee Hirsch and his producing partner Harvey Weinstein, as the MPAA has amended its original decision, now allowing the documentary Bully, with minor editorial alteration, to be released in the US with a PG-13 rating.

Hirsch has agreed to the removal of three "fucks", but keeps the critical scene intact on the bus that was the source of the original ratings controversy. So, for the record, six "fucks" is too many, one is usually allowed, and in this (special) case three are allowed to pass muster.

When asked by SCREENANARCHY directly about this issue earlier this week, Hirsch was quite adamant, saying forcefully "I'm not willing to cut the film." He immediately then backpedaled, saying:

 "'I'm certainly not willing to cut the scene that's causing us trouble, I'll make that clarification, the one that's got us in trouble. There's six curses in the film, a couple I could live without having, but the scene that they're really rating us for is the one I won't cut, the one on the bus."

It seems, then, that the Director gets to keep his scene, they lose a couple minor incidents of swearing to make the MPAA happy, and the controversy surrounding the film has naturally drummed up enormous interest, both in the US and abroad, about this documentary film.

Bully is already open in select theatres in the US, but this ratings change allows it to open without issue in a wider variety of venues. Furthermore, restrictions upon unrated (or R-rated) films in schools, retailers, and so on will now be lifted, allowing what's potentially a far greater reach for the film.

Feel free to check out my review of the film here, and read the full interview here.
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More about Bully

ToryApril 5, 2012 10:06 PM

So, three "fucks" are taken out and they get a PG-13? Good God, what a stupid system. Those first three are fine, it's the last three that would have corrupted the minds of children.

Todd BrownApril 6, 2012 1:03 PM

It's two more than are normally allowed. The PG-13 normally has a strict limit of one. So the MPAA have actually moved significantly off of their normal stance, which has to be viewed as at least a partial victory.

AlexApril 6, 2012 6:05 PM

How did Gunner Palace make it with a PG13? That movie had tons of language.

Jason GorberApril 6, 2012 11:57 PM

If you watch the flawed by very interesting doc THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, you'll see that it's a clear mandate of the MPAA's decision process that precedent is =not= a cause for overturning or shaping a rating.

Crazy, but true.

So, while GUNNER PALACE was released with 42 "fucks", the tradition (but not the "precedent") has established that more than one gets an "R", therefore, BULLY was denied their PG-13 on both initial submission and appeal.

It's all a bizarre situation, pretty much unique to the US (the studios controlling the censor) which has both advantages and disadvantages. In this case, it's clear that BULLY has now received both notoriety and the rating the filmmakers felt it deserved all along.