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How Roland Emmerich Snuck A Second F-Bomb Into Moonfall And Still Kept His Movie PG-13

One of the most infamous rules set by the MPAA when it comes to swearing in movies is that if you’re going to drop the f-bomb, you only get to do it once if you want to keep a PG-13 rating. This leads to a whole bunch of filmmakers getting creative, both with how they use that one instance and how they skirt around any other moments where that word could crop up. However, Roland Emmerich was crafty with how he snuck a second f-bomb into his Halle Berry-led disaster epic Moonfall, while also keeping that blockbuster-friendly rating.

As I was on hand for the press day promoting Lionsgate’s Moonfall, it was too tempting not to ask about the subject of a very profane space shuttle that was featured. Normally, the audience probably wouldn’t think anything of this. However, the gag arrives well into a movie that’s seemed to have already used its f-bomb privilege, thanks to John Bradley’s Dr. K.C. Houseman dropping it within the first act. That apparently wasn’t a problem, as Roland Emmerich told CinemaBlend how he was surprised by the lack of obstacles with including that moment: 

I thought there would be a huge pushback, and there wasn’t. They were like totally fine with it. We already had ‘Screw The Moon’, and they kind of said yes to it.

Right there, Mr. Emmerich seems to have the same thought process as most of the audience, right down to having an alternative graphic ready to go. When former astronauts Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson need a ship in a hurry to investigate what’s on the moon, the former shuttle Endeavour is the quick fix solution that’s needed for a tight turnaround. This leads to the scene where that museum piece is found defaced with tons of graffiti, most notably including the message “Fuck The Moon.” If the MPAA had pushed back as anticipated, here’s the TV-edit friendly replacement you would have seen, which eventually found a home among the trailers marketing the film

Space Shuttle Endeavour littered with graffiti in Moonfall.

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

What makes this Moonfall story even funnier is that Roland Emmerich has run into this issue before, with censorship winning out in a big way. In his sci-fi classic Independence Day, there’s an infamous redubbing of Harvey Fierstein’s character saying, “Eh, forget my lawyer,” when talking to Jeff Goldblum in a serious moment of panic. Anyone who can read lips, or a handy ID4 trivia guide, can see the original edit was supposed to play as, “Eh, fuck my lawyer,” meaning that if memory serves correctly, not even one f-bomb was allowed in that blockbuster crowd-pleaser.

It wouldn’t have killed the vibe of the fast-paced Moonfall to have to have zapped that expletive scrawled along the space shuttle. It almost certainly wouldn’t have changed the critical response to the film either, as the end result is exactly what you’d expect from a Roland Emmerich film. So what does keeping one f-bomb really matter when it comes to a situation such as this?

Seeing as the reference was allowed to stay, the bold message allows itself to remain a symbol of humanity’s defiance. Earth is literally allowed to give a flying fuck about its future, and does so in order to stop whatever it is that’s using the Moon to try and kill humanity.  There’s even an exchange between Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, where they ponder why they didn’t scrub the words off of the shuttle before the mission. Wilson’s character answers that the message kind of grew on him; that’s probably what the studio is counting on with fans of the film, as it's already given out swag with a slightly altered text: 

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Could “Fuck The Moon” be Moonfall’s “Whoop ET’s Ass” moment? This weekend will be the test, as Roland Emmerich’s latest disasterpiece will debut exclusively in theaters, including premium formats like IMAX. It’s one of many upcoming movies looking to usher audiences back to larger than life spectacle, so if that’s your thing, it’s time to plan your movie watching calendar accordingly!

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.