Michael Moore Appealing R Rating for ‘Where to Invade Next’

Where to Invade Next
Courtesy of TIFF

Michael Moore is getting into the ring with the Motion Picture Association of America after the organization gave his upcoming documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” an R rating.

The director said he will be rejecting the rating and will appeal the decision. This isn’t the first time Moore has clashed with the MPAA’s ratings board. He previously appealed the R rating given to “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Other Moore pictures have attracted attention for their ratings — the late film critic Roger Ebert slammed the MPAA for giving an R to Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” and “60 Minutes” devoted a program to examining why his film “Roger and Me” earned the same designation.

Other high-profile projects, such as “Blue Valentine” and “Bully,” have gone head-to-head with the ratings board in recent years with varying degrees of success. “Blue Valentine” was appealing to change its NC-17 designation to an R, but “Bully” had to be released unrated after losing its R rating appeal. Win or lose, a good old fashioned ratings fight is often good for generating headlines and free publicity. Harvey Weinstein, who distributed “Fahrenheit 9/11,” has been particularly adroit at capitalizing on these dust-ups.

Critics of the MPAA note that it seems to have a higher tolerance for violence than sex, and accuse it of being arbitrary in its decision-making. In the case of “Where to Invade Next,” the organization cited the film “for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity.”

In a statement, Moore marveled that his films keep earning R ratings: “It’s amazing how 25 years have passed — we invented the internet, gay marriage is legal and we elected an African American President of the United States, but the MPAA is still intent on censoring footage that is available from any evening network news show.”

He added: “I wish the MPAA would just be honest and stick a label on my movies saying: ‘This movie contains dangerous ideas that the 99% may find upsetting and lead them to revolt.’ Teens will be the most agitated when they learn they will soon be $80,000 in debt just by going to school.”

“Where to Invade Next” takes on topics ranging from health care to prison reform, following the director on a series of foreign excursions as he compares how different countries handle various issues and how those lessons can apply to the U.S. The film opens in limited release on Dec. 23rd.

It is being distributed stateside by a new venture from TWC-Radius Founders and Co-Presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego and Alamo Drafthouse Founder and CEO Tim League. The three men are backing Moore in his appeal.

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  1. Leslie says:

    Seems to me, ‘mainstream’ will go to any length to suppress free speech. Provocative political videos/articles come up ‘no longer available’ or ‘copyrighted’ or simply don’t load. Information in the US goes thru some filtering. It is very hard to find truth because keeping our population largely ignorant or mis-informed is politically very useful. What a shame, since a democracy cannot function for the common good if people are basing who/what to vote for on inaccurate information or negative epitaphs (name calling using emotionally charged words with no supporting evidence).

  2. Justin says:

    Bully was actually cut to earn a PG-13 for its theatrical release. It was not released unrated.

  3. Jim Ponsoldt says:

    i’d like to see 15-16 year old teenagers, with an interest in politics (yes, some do have an interest) be encouraged to see the movie–and then discuss it with their parents. i’m afraid the “R” rating may create the “wrong” idea about the film, so i’m happy moore is challenging the rating. i’d also like to read the MPAA’s explanation for the rating–these explanations should routinely be made public, upon request by producers.

  4. Why fight it? No one under 17 could possibly wish to attend. And more importantly, perhaps it will create some interest for adults who, by and large, don’t even consider these films – or even entertainment at all.

  5. cadavra says:

    Michael should accept the rating, if for no other reason than teens will only go to a documentary if they think there’s dirty stuff in it.

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