I’m two days late and two dollars short, but the MPAA’s decision to give Tom Hooper‘s The King’s Speech an R rating is nothing short of surreal. It’s all about a single scene in which Colin Firth‘s King George VI, during one of his speech-therapy sessions with Geoffery Rush‘s Lionel Logue, experiences an emotional breakthrough of sorts as he lets go with a string of vulgarities in a Tourette’s Syndrome way.
This is another example of that old, much-ridiculed MPAA tendency to give films with blue language the same R rating that they routinely hand out to blood-caked torture porn. Late Monday night Hooper told L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein that the decision means that “violence and torture are okay, but bad language isn’t. I can’t think of a single film I’ve ever seen where the swear words had haunted me forever, the way a scene of violence or torture has, yet the ratings board only worries about the bad language.”
This is the second ratings slapdown suffered by the Weinstein Co., which has justifiably railed against the MPAA’s having given Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine an NC-17 over a couple of no-big-deal sex scenes. The prime offender is reportedly a hotel-room sex scene between the married Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, although it isn’t the least bit titillating — it mainly conveys the resentment that has built up between them.
There’s really no logical reason to show respect for the MPAA. Their values are almost Tea Party loony. But there’s also no reason for the Academy to wave away Blue Valentine because of the NC-17. It deserves to be one of the ten Best Picture nominees, I feel, as a gesture of respect for its emotional honesty, high-quality acting and John Cassavetes stamp. You have to have at least one “little” movie in there to round out the pack.