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William Friedkin's 'Killer Joe' Starring Matthew McConaughey & Emile Hirsch Gets NC-17 Rating

by Kevin Jagernauth
March 1, 2012 9:21 AM
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It seems the MPAA is still getting under everyone's skin. With controvery over the R-rating for The Weinstein Company's documentary "Bully" still brewing, the ratings board has dropped another eyebrow raising decision, stamping William Friedkin's deliciously dark "Killer Joe" with the dreaded NC-17 rating. 

There's no doubt that at the very least, "Killer Joe" is an R-rated film. Based on the play by Tracy Letts ("Bug" which Friedkin adapted into an underrated thriller; "August: Osage County" which is being turned into a vehicle for Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep) the film tells the story of a young man (Emile Hirsch) who contracts out a crooked cop (a wickedly evil Matthew McConaughey) to kill his mother for the insurance money, and puts up his younger sister (Juno Temple) as collateral to pay for the job. It's twisted stuff, but also rioutously funny and completely fucking bonkers.  It treads strange territory in ways that sub-Tarantino/Coen wannabees could only dream of doing, but NC-17? There's no explicit sex (though there is nudity), nor any particulary graphic violence (though yes, it does get bloody), however we do have a pretty good idea why the movie has run foul of the board.

**SPOILERS BEGIN** The film's unbelievably explosive finale features a lurid, funny and disturbing (all at once) scene in which Gina Gershon is forced to perform fellatio on a piece of fried chicken. We won't get into why, but it's both revolting and absurd, but given the generally conservative nature of the ratings board, we'd bet our money that's the scene that has their panties all in a bunch. **SPOILERS END**

Distributors LD Entertainment plan to appeal the rating, and good luck to them. If Harvey can't convince the MPAA that a documentary about bullying might be something that kids need to see, we presume they'll be even less lenient about an already pretty transgressive B-movie. But we hope wiser heads prevail, because this film is a blast and it would be a shame if it was kept from finding an audience. No release date yet, but "Killer Joe" is slated to hit later this year.

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  • Road Kill | March 2, 2012 6:07 AMReply

    All we wanna know is does McConaughey get naked? That's it. Is he giving Fassbender a run for his money?

  • stealth | March 1, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    I screened the film in Toronto FF, it deserves an NC-17 rating. The chicken bone scene and having implied sex many times with an under age girl... Deserves an NC-17 rating. (Especially the chicken bone scene) Board, stick to your guns... This ruling is spot on. I don't want my 16 year old daughter to see this film... Nor should anyone who isn't old enough to understand...(I don't even understand that chicken bone scene... CRAZY...)

  • Thomasi | March 1, 2012 5:01 PM

    @stealth: You shouldn't need an NC-17 rating to keep your 16-year-old daughter from seeing a movie you don't want her to see. An R rating will keep her out, unless she's with you or another guardian. You could also just tell her (even if it were rated G) "I don't want you seeing this movie." If she doesn't respect your instructions, that's your problem and no one else's.

    Also, and I've told you this elsewhere: there is no underage sex in this movie. Dottie is 20 years old in the play; in the film, her age is never mentioned. She's a young adult character. Nor does she, or anyone, have sex on screen in the film, although there is plenty of nudity.

    It's also no surprise that you don't understand the chicken bone scene, given that you don't understand the basics of punctuation and capitalization, but that's another issue entirely.

  • a | March 1, 2012 3:38 PM

    Hemingway, actually a 16 year old can see an R-rated film as long as they have a parent or guardian present.

  • Hemingway | March 1, 2012 3:23 PM

    Your 16 year old daughter wouldn't be able to see it if were rated R either...

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