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Update: TWC lost their appeal and The Tillman Story will be released with an R rating.
The Tillman Story is a documentary that attempts to go behind the curtain of one of the biggest government cover-ups in recent history. It's the story of a family who wants the truth about the death of their son, a true patriot, Pat Tillman, who chose the army and service to his country over a multimillion dollar football contract. For obvious reasons, things get quite heated as more and more outrage is expressed and, as a result, some naughty words are said. Because of this, the MPAA wants to give the film an R-rating, but the movie's distributors, The Weinstein Company, is fighting it tooth and nail.
Deadline reports that the company and the filmmakers plan to protest the restricted rating, which was given only for “excessive language.” Director Amir Bar Lev says the use of curse words in the film is not gratuitous in any way, and that young people should be "exposed to a great American like Pat Tillman." Producer John Battsek was more blunt about the use of language, saying,
“Of course there is excessive language. This is a film that follows a truly exemplary family torn apart by the death of their loved one and the barrage of government deceit they encountered in their pursuit of the honest truth. We should be looking at this film as a way to show our younger generation the power of true family values and the sometimes unfortunate failings of our government.”
All it takes is one look at the MPAA guidelines for language to understand that they are completely insane. Typically a film can get away with using the word "fuck" one to four times and still maintain a PG-13 rating, but if it's uttered a fifth time it will be given the restricted label. If the word is used as a verb (as in "to have sex"), however, then it stands very little chance of being open to teenagers if uttered even once. While fights with the MPAA have been used to stir up publicitiy in the past, The Tillman Story truly is a film that truly should rise above the archaic rating system because of the story it is telling. If the work of Michael Moore and his films' box office success is any indication, an R-rating shouldn't be too much of an impediment, but, in reality, this is a story too important to be cut off by red tape. The MPAA is in desperate need of reform and this would be a great place to start.