Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne

Max Payne has been hit with an ‘R’ rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, and director John Moore is more than a little irked. The 20th Century Fox film stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, and is based on the M(ature)-rated video games of the same name. It’s scheduled for release on October 17th.

Moore recently spoke with dasgamer.com and voiced his dissatisfaction with the MPAA’s structure, guidelines, and decision. Oh, and he also strongly inferred that the aged MPAA dropped to its arthritic knees and fellated the collective suit-wearing phalluses at Warner Bros. over that little bat man movie.

“We’re suffering from what I call Batman blowback. The Motion Picture Association of America gave The Dark Knight a PG-13 rating and basically sucked Warner Bros. cock. I have a serious amount of issues with the MPAA. Did you know it was made up of volunteers? As if that somehow excludes them from some type of wrongdoing. You can’t serve on it if you’re a homosexual or if you didn’t grow up in a shared parenthood home. Go to their website and read their charter about what gives a fair and balanced view for typical parents. We’re still strangled by an association that’s straight out of the House Un-American Activities Committee.”

Yeah, he’s upset. Max Payne had long been rumored to be aiming for a PG-13 rating, even though the games are rated M for Mature. Moore did claim at this year’s Comic Con however that he wasn’t shooting with a rating in mind, saying that “if it’s an R, it’s an R.” Obviously the money men at Fox would prefer a PG-13 as the general argument states that a wider potential audience will result in higher box-office. Most video game to film adaptations are rated PG-13 or below, with the exception of the Resident Evil films and Fox’s own Hitman. It was probably Hitman’s lackluster domestic box-office ($39 million) that led Fox to demand a PG-13 cut for Max Payne, but Hitman grossed $100 million worldwide… not bad for a film budgeted at $24 million and with no big name actors. Wahlberg is an international star and can open a film with an R rating.

“They [MPAA] said to me, the movie feels R. And I said, ‘What the fuck is that, a group therapy session?’ You can’t do that. They’re meant to judge content, not intent. They said the movie felt dark… The MPAA will never publish the rules. They’ll never tell a director, Here’s what’s going to get you an R, Here’s what’s going to get you a PG-13. People might think that’s impossible, but let me tell you, if I’m making a TV beer commercial, I know exactly what the rules are. The MPAA changes their rules willy-nilly and it depends on who’s seeing your actual movie at the time. It’s very difficult to get a hold on what’s acceptable. The only thing you can use is current standards.”

Moore believes his film is being treated unfairly in comparison to those current standards. “So I go and see The Dark Knight and I say, ‘Gee, that’s pretty gnarly for PG-13,’ but I felt good about Max Payne after coming out of the theater. I thought Max wasn’t going to have a problem.” The argument over The Dark Knight‘s rating has been raging since the film’s release, with some people saying it should have been rated R for its overall tone and darkness. Unlike Moore, I haven’t seen Max Payne, but from playing the games and watching the trailers I can see some immediate distinctions between the two that may have led to the R rating. For all the apathy, mayhem, destruction, and pencil tricks on display in The Dark Knight, the film was a mostly bloodless affair. In contrast, there were 783 gunshots in the Max Payne trailer alone, and unless all of them made contact solely with windows, doors, and other inanimate objects then there are going to be a shitload of people getting shot to death on screen. Add in the major plot point centering on an illegal drug called Valkyrie, the slaughter of Payne’s wife and child, and the hotness that is Olga Kurylenko (Hitman, Quantum of Solace) and the MPAA may just have a point here. Moore acknowledges this to a degree, saying “If I was a smart member of the MPAA I would turn around and say to the filmmakers, ‘Guys, look at your source material.’ But again, they’re supposed to judge actual content, not intent.”

Moore’s basic complaints are nothing new as anyone who’s seen the brilliant This Film Is Not Yet Rated knows. That documentary both entertained and enlightened the general public as to the clusterfuck that is the MPAA’s rules and regulations, and it validated Moore’s point that the MPAA consists solely of cock-holsters and knob-nibblers. On the flipside, Fox hasn’t exactly been anyone’s favorite studio recently and their quest for a PG-13 rating on a film that really should have been an R won’t change that opinion, but I also don’t think they’ll be losing any sleep (or money) over Max Payne. Moore will undoubtedly make the necessary cuts to reach its targeted PG-13, and just as undoubtedly we’ll be seeing an unrated DVD release alongside the PG-13 cut on store shelves some time next year.

Will you go see a PG-13 rated Max Payne? Do you think The Dark Knight should have been rated R? Should Olga Kurylenko be in every film from this point forward? That last question is rhetorical because I already know the answer.


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