Even as America's attitude toward the personal usage of marijuana swings ever closer to the "Legalize It" side of the debate, Hollywood still finds itself terrified to do anything that could be viewed by red-staters as encouraging the use of illegal drugs. So, while movies like 2012 and Terminator: Salvation can show rampant violence and the deaths of literally billions of human beings and still earn themselves an all-important PG-13 rating, a scene that shows two responsible, fiftysomething adults kicking back and smoking a joint is scary enough to the Motion Picture Association of America that they find themselves forced to saddle the film with a restrictive (in terms of potential box-office revenues) R rating. That's the scenario that is currently facing director Nancy Meyers and the marketing team at Universal with their holiday rom-com release, It's Complicated.
The scene that has the MPAA quaking in its boots is, interestingly enough, one that has been in the trailer for the film since day one. In it, Steve Martin and Meryl Streep decide to spice up their date night by sharing a marijuana cigarette (that's what the kids are calling it these days, right?). As you might expect, this action results in the two giggling a lot at a party, not driving down to the ghetto to see if they can score themselves some primo smack. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, this blatant use of an illegal substance means that the film must now be released into theaters with an R rating; according to those close to the matter, the main issue is not so much the consumption of mary jane, but rather that the film fails to show any "bad consequences" that come in the wake of Martin and Streep's decision to indulge in the smoking of the pot.
Universal was said to be so upset by the decision that studio chief Adam Fogelson and star Steve Martin (!) made appeals to the ratings board in an attempt to have the film's rating scaled back to PG-13. However, the board insisted that the only way for the studio to earn the more lucrative PG-13 rating was for them to cut the scene out of the film entirely. But because the scene in question is one of just a few in the entire movie that Steve Martin actually appears in, Universal decided not to piss off a major box-office draw like Martin by trimming it out of the final cut. Instead, they will take their lumps at the B.O., and send the film out to theaters on Christmas Day with an R rating.
In case you have yet to see it, here's the trailer. The apparently reckless use of cannabis occurs at approximately the two-minute mark:
What say you? Good for the MPAA for not allowing those liberal hellions in Hollywood to trample all over the laws of the US of A? Or shame on them for being such squares?
It's complicated, but 'It's Complicated' will be released with an R rating [Company Town/LAT]