In another example of why the MPAA is the longest running joke in cinema, the censory body has determined Eddie Murphy’s new "look it’s Eddie Murphy in a fat suit- again" film Norbit (trailer here) deserves an R rating. Naturally, for a film intended to be PG-13, the 17+ and anyone-else-who-wants-to-sneak-in rating is not sitting well with distributors Dreamworks and Paramount.
Let’s be honest. Despite the funny duck scene at the beginning of the trailer, whether the movie gets and R or a PG-13 isn’t going to matter, because no one goes to see Eddie Murphy not voicing a donkey movies any more (unless it’s Eddy Murphy in a fatsuit– so my whole hypothesis there may be screwed). The real story here, or I should say, continuation of an age-old story, is the fact the MPAA ratings board is worthless.
So why did Norbit get stuck with an R? What’s holding the film up in it’s let-the-teens-view-it quest? “Some sex related humor”. What exactly does that mean? The MPAA has bastardized and negotiated their classification system to a point of being so vague as to be completely meaningless. Example: Lords of Dogtown gets a PG-13 based on drug and alcohol content, sexuality, violence, language and reckless behavior – all involving teens. Hollywoodland gets an R based on language, some violence and sexual content. What the hell is the difference between sexuality and sexual content? What makes sexuality any less R-rated than sexual content? I don’t know. The MPAA uses them interchangeably which makes their subjective valuation mean nothing.
So, Paramaount and Dreamworks can wrangle and negotiate and trim a few seconds that mean nothing and get a PG-13 which will, in the end, probably translate to nothing in terms of success. In the mean time, the MPAA continues to pump out ratings which mean nothing in their reign of absurd subjectivity.