Director gets R rating for comedy

Filmmaker Kevin Smith has won an appeal to lower the rating for his comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” from an adults-only NC-17 to an R.

Motion Picture Association of America spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman said Tuesday the rating was revised after the group’s appeals board viewed the movie.

“We didn’t set out to make an NC-17 film. That’s just commercial suicide,” Smith told The Associated Press.

The NC-17 rating would have prohibited anyone younger than 17 from seeing it. With an R rating, those under 17 can see it in the company of an adult.

“Zack and Miri,” due out Oct. 31 from the Weinstein Co., stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as best friends and roommates who try to make a homemade porn flick to dig themselves out of debt.

Smith said the MPAA ratings board objected to two sex scenes involving co-stars Jason Mewes and Katie Morgan. After the movie’s initial NC-17 rating, Smith said he trimmed those scenes as far as he was willing to go but was unable to convince the board to lower the rating.

“They felt it was rather sexually graphic. My point is, it was comically graphic. All the sex in the movie with the exception of one scene is very cartoonish, very campy,” Smith said. “It wasn’t designed to titillate.”

The appeals board, a separate panel from the ratings board, viewed the movie Tuesday, and Smith presented his arguments. It was the third time Smith successfully talked his way down to a lower rating: His 1994 debut “Clerks” initially received an NC-17 rating that was reduced to an R on appeal, while his 2003 film “Jersey Girl” was reduced to PG-13 after first being rated R.

Smith said the title alone should be enough to caution audiences about the contents.

“Anybody not inclined to see a movie with `Porno’ in the title is not going to see it, so it kind of regulates itself to a degree,” Smith said. “And anybody who is going is not going to be surprised by what they see.”

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