Weekend Box Office: The ‘Guys’ Take It

After three weeks as the undisputed champion of the North American box office, Christopher Nolan’s dreamy thriller ‘Inception‘ has fallen… to a couple of knucklehead cops played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. For a complete rundown of the weekend Top 10, read on!

That’s right, Adam McKay’s raucous action comedy ‘The Other Guys‘ took the top slot at the box office this weekend, handily edging out ‘Inception’ for Number One. The movie had a budget of around $90 million and opened with $35.6 million. Some critics are bemoaning the fact that ‘The Other Guys’ wasn’t rated R. True, that extra freedom could have done the movie some good. (Nobody says “fuck” quite like Mark Wahlberg.) But when the studio argued for a PG-13 rating, they were probably citing a big weekend gross like this as a reason for the softer rating. In that respect, they were totally justified. This sizable an opening is also admirable considering Ferrell’s last starring vehicle, last summer’s ‘Land of the Lost‘ (which was co-written by ‘Other Guys’ screenwriter Chris Henchy and executive produced by McKay) grossed only $49.4 million in its entire theatrical run. I loved ‘The Other Guys’ and am very happy to see that other people did too.

Last week I wondered what would happen to ‘Dinner for Schmucks,’ which very nearly took the top spot. Well, I have my answer: it dropped. Hard. It landed down at the #5 spot, after ‘Inception,’ this week’s new 3-D dance movie ‘Step Up 3D‘ (which, it should be said, kind of underperformed given the box office of the past two ‘Step Up’ movies) and Angelina Jolie’s ‘Salt.’ Ouch. ‘Schmucks’ may have added another $10.5 million to its tally, but it’s doubtful that the movie will stick around much longer, especially with ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ opening this week.

The rest of the Top 10 is pretty much what you’d expect. ‘Grown Ups’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice‘ fell out of the Top 10. Barring an act of God, they’ll remain out. But you know what is in the top 10? That’s right! ‘The Kids Are All Right‘! I erroneously predicted that this small gem would break into the Top 10 for the past few weeks now, but it’s finally done it! With $2.6 million, it is a solid #10 on the chart. Also sort of interesting: the fact that ‘Despicable Me,’ a low budget animated movie from a first-time studio (Illumination Entertainment) has cracked the $200 million barrier. This is sort of astounding, especially given that the movie is really only so-so.

Next week’s movies offer something for everyone: women (Julia Roberts in the adaptation of the bestselling memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’), macho men (‘The Expendables’ with a veritable who’s-who of washed up action movie talent including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts and the movie’s writer-director Sylvester Stallone), and emo kids who used to play the original Nintendo machine (‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,’ which I have seen and loved).

The Top 10:

01 ‘The Other Guys’ (Sony) – $35.6 million

02 ‘Inception’ (Warner Bros) – $18.6 million

03 ‘Step Up 3D’ (Disney) – $15.5 million

04 ‘Salt’ (Sony) – $11.1 million

05 ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ (Paramount) – $10.5 million

06 ‘Despicable Me’ (Universal) – $9.4 million

07 ‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore’ (Warner Bros) – $6.9 million

08 ‘Charlie St. Cloud’ (Universal) – $4.7 million

09 ‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney/Pixar) – $3 million

10 ‘The Kids Are Alright’ (Universal) – $2.6 million


  1. What’s wrong with a movie being rated only PG-13? Why is it assumed that a movie will do better if its rated R? What kind of society WANTS movies with the eff word? A movie should only be rated R if its in benefit to the movie – ie Braveheart and The Patriot and The Passion of the Christ in their War and Gore scenes, Terminator in its violence and and cussing scenes (although Salvation was perfectly fine as a PG-13 movie), Saving Private Ryan for War and Gore. These were movies that benefitted from the R rating. Just to change the rating to R so we can have some more filthy language is a HORRIBLE reason to push for an R rating. Shoot, just a few years ago, studios were trying to keep from getting R ratings if they could. Shoot, they though Harry Potter, going from PG to PG-13, would be the kiss of death for the series.

    • “What kind of society WANTS movies with the eff word?”

      Raises hand. 🙂

      I think the issue is less about profanity specifically than it is about Hollywood’s move toward exclusively making movies targeted for a young teen audience. Fewer and fewer movies are made for adults anymore. Even those that allegedly are wind up watered down for family-safe consumption.

      • I’m an adult and I’d like to be treated like one. So yes, realistic language please!

        Also? How can one word really be worse than another? The whole ‘curse words’ thing just seems silly to me.

        • I just don’t want profanity for profanity’s sake. Very few people in the real world cuss every other word. Well, maybe if it was a gang movie or something (sorry to stereotype), but the every day person does not cuss every other word. They may slip one here and there, but to cuss simply for the sake of cussing if it does not fit into the context of the story is just, well, crude. I am not saying go G and have no cussing, I am not saying just throw in cussing, or nudity, or anytihng else, just to have it thrown in – it needs to enhance the story.

          • “I just don’t want profanity for profanity’s sake. Very few people in the real world cuss every other word”

            I think we hang out with different folks :p

          • EM

            Too bad, Dick—you might try to associate with a better class of people.

            Question for you and like-minded readers: Is a film such as “2001: A Space Odyssey”—rated G—not grown-up enough for you? Are films such as “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane”—made in an a ratingless era whose production code forbade various forms of coarse language—not grown-up enough for you either?

          • ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Citizen Kane’ are fine. They were also made before I was born, which means they could use whatever kinds of words they want and it’d be fine.

            If a movie is supposed to take place in 2010 and it’s starring, say, a couple of 20 year old guys, that’s different.

            And what’s the big deal anyway? The word ‘fuck’ is just four letters in a row. Same thing with the word ‘door.’

          • Well, and as I said, I don’t mind it being there if it enhances the movie. If I am shooting a movie about gangs or something, I would not have dialouge such as “Gee wiz, mister, why you go and put a hole in my friend for?” No, they would have dialouge such as “Yo, mother f*cker, get back here so I can pop a cap in your ass” or something.

            I can name several movies that benefit from explatives, nudity, sex scenes, etc. The couple that come to mind is the first two Terminator movies. It just would not be the same movie without it. Nudity enhances the story (the time travel bit), the sex scenes tell us where John came from, the cussing shows us what kind of life they have lead.

            Pulp Fiction, as you said, would not have been the same movie without it. (That being said, I HATE that movie).

            I just don’t want a director or someone to start throwing stuff in just to change a rating or just because they can.

            Let me put it another way. In the later Harry Potter books, it talks about Ron using explatives when he is angry. You can use your mind to fill in his exact words. Now, the later movies have PG-13 ratings already, show the kids a bit older, should we throw in a few choice words here and there because we can? It won’t affect the rating, we are already at PG-13.

          • EM

            I don’t believe I’m qualified to answer Josh’s counterquestion about “Pulp Fiction”. I tried watching it once and found it so uninteresting that I finally gave up after about 45 minutes. The foul language, which I was aware of before choosing to see the movie, was not a deciding factor in my abandoning the viewing.

            I am baffled by Dick’s argument that so-called foul language is no different from other language. It’s not the argument per se, but rather its juxtaposition with his demand for foul language. If he truly believes it’s no different, what the door does it matter to him whether foul language is used? 🙂

        • BambooLounge

          Ironically, I have found in my own life experience that it is not “adult” to curse. In fact, I used to curse far more frequently in conversations with my friends when I was younger.

          The whole point is that as an adult, you realize that cursing in most situations is improper and downright immature. Some of the most adult films ever made by Hollywood came out during the Production Code because it forced screenwriters and directors to treat audiences as adults, intelligent ones at that, by inserting subtle references to taboo things as well as creative linguistic code.

          I am not anti-cursing by any stretch of the imagination, but wanting it for the sake of it being there is silly. Just as silly as thinking a movie with cursing is an “adult film” because adults curse. Kids curse far more than actual intelligent adults.

        • BambooLounge


          I’ve made those same “they’re just words” cursing arguments before too…I was 10.

          The argument is certainly valid, but loses some steam once you look at what the real problem with cursing is and why growing up parents/teachers/etc do not want kids saying them. Cursing makes people sound unintelligent. It is as simple as that. Yes, intelligent people may curse from time to time, but by and large, it is very hard to take anyone seriously if in a normal conversation they are dropping F-bombs left and right.

          If I go to a doctor and he tells me, “It seems you have a fucking cold because some dumb ass must have sneezed near you and now these fucking germs are all in your shit.” Guess what I’d do…get a new doctor!

          You are right, fuck is not more offensive than door on its face. It is all about context. Yet, curses are empty words. They’re used by those with poor vocabularies. They have no tangible independent meaning. People that use curses all the time do so because they lack the mental capacity to use more explanatory adjectives and adverbs. That is why we grow up being taught not to curse. It is not a morality thing, but an intelligence thing.

          As for The Other Guys…I don’t see how cursing would have added anything to the film. The comedy here was beautifully absurd/surreal…the lack of non-stop cursing (common place in many cop movies) added to the overall effect of the film. There was not a single scene where I sat there and thought, “Gee I wish he would’ve inserted a ‘fuck’ right there.”

          • “I’ve made those same “they’re just words” cursing arguments before too…I was 10.” You sir, were a smart ten year old!

            “Curses are empty words. They’re used by those with poor vocabularies.” Oh come now, I’ve got a great vocabulary and I curse just fine thank you very much. If mine’s a ten year old argument, then yours is a mom argument 🙂

            As far as adding to the film – remember that scene where Eva Mendez’s mom traveled between Eva and Will Ferrell exchanging messages? That scene felt really flat to me, and I think that’s why. The joke of “an old woman is saying filthy things” doesn’t especially work if she’s not saying them.

            Now I’m not saying that the movie needed a hard R, I’m not saying every movie should ramp up the language for the hell of it, and honestly I think the original thread of this conversation got lost.

            I’m merely responding to the statement far above. “What kind of society WANTS movies with the eff word.” Well, my kind of society.

  2. BambooLounge

    But, I think the original point you were responding to was really “What kind of society wants…for the sake of it.”

    As for my “mom argument,” it is still true. If you sought the services of a professional (doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc) and they sprinkled their dialogue with curses it would be oft-putting and they would not seem to be as qualified as another who speaks like a professional. It holds true for average people. People who can discuss things without cursing seem more intelligent than those who cannot. Cursing has its place, I curse too. But, I don’t curse every other word or all the time nor am I foolish enough to believe that “they are just words” is justification for cursing in daily conversation as if curse words have some sort of value-adding meaning in regular conversation.

    I don’t think anyone has argued against cursing in films that require them. But, to act as if comedy warrants cursing is just wrong.

    In the sequence you mention, cursing would have probably ruined it. If it used cursing, it would have been too broad. The whole point is that they are passing these very detailed, “realistic” messages back and forth. If it was simply, “I want to fuck your brains out.” It would not have been as funny.

    Again, the tameness of the film was part of its joke. A car chase to “Monday, Monday” is part of that same line of surrealism. In this particular film, cursing just would have made it seem ordinary. These characters (cops) are expected to curse and such in action movies…the fact that they don’t here adds to the surrealism.

    Some films simply do not require curses to be effective, “real,” and certainly “adult.” If you actually feel cursing makes you a grown-up or a big boy, then well, I guess elementary school playgrounds are populated with a ton of short adults. Kids believe cursing makes them adult, “I used a big person word..oooooo”…I find it odd that an adult would share that same logic.

    • “Kids believe cursing makes them adult, “I used a big person word..oooooo”…I find it odd that an adult would share that same logic.”

      I think you’re misunderstanding me. 🙂

      When I say that I appreciate when films treat me like a grown up, I mean that they should respect the fact that I can handle a little bit of vulgarity instead of toning down so as not to offend my sensibilities.

      I’m not sure where the doctor’s office comes into play here. Of course you shouldn’t swear in a professional environment. I wouldn’t want my doctor to say “dude” either, or tell me to “chillax”. That’s the difference between professional language and casual language – though I’m not sure what that has to do with cursing in movies.

      As far as the original argument goes – no, I certainly wasn’t saying that people should curse in movies just for the sake of cursing. In William’s original point, he seemed to imply that swearing was unjustified unless it directly benefited the film. I would argue against that and say that there’s nothing wrong with cursing unless it’s a detriment to the quality of the film. In most cases (and certainly in this one) films are tamed down to PG-13 for the sake of money and nothing else.

      • I may have been a bit over the top with my original comment. I was, though, refering to the comment in the article saying that “Some critics are bemoaning the fact that ‘The Other Guys’ wasn’t rated R. True, that extra freedom could have done the movie some good. (Nobody says “fuck” quite like Mark Wahlberg.) But when the studio argued for a PG-13 rating, they were probably citing a big weekend gross like this as a reason for the softer rating. In that respect, they were totally justified.”

        My original comment was ment to tease him a bit about it, not to start a whole morality war. I watch movies with language in them. Shoot, one of my favorite movies is Team America.

        Basically, it sounded like Drew was saying the movie would have been better if it had more cussing. I have never heard ANYONE complain that a movie had too little cussing. That lead to the comment where I said what type of society have we become where we want more cussing. It was not ment to be a “let’s not have cussing in movies”, but rather a tongue in cheek remark.

        You know, if I find a movie offensive, I don’t watch it (it is RARE that a movie offends me, with Pulp Fiction being one of the very few). There have been a couple of movies I have turned off because cussing, nudity, or whatever, just seemed to be thrown in becuase it could, and was really overboard.

        Rating systems exist so that, when I go to see a movie, I know based on the Rating (and now, they also post the reason for the rating) what to expect. Yeah, there are sometimes when I question why one movie got a PG rating, one got a PG-13 and one got an R, but for the most part, I know what to expect.

        At the end, though, what happened is that it sounded like what you guys were saying is fuck shit cock whatever are just like any other words, we shouldn’t be afraid of them, and that we should thrown them into any movie as that is the way people talk. I seriously doubt a movie like Aladdin would benefit from Aladdin saying, “Fuck you, Genie, all you ever think about is your own shit, I am going to wish for what I want so that I can get that bitch princess”. Cussing does not add anything to the movie, and in fact, would probably drive most parents away.

        Once again, I really did not want to drag this out into a morality debate – my first comment was ment to be tounge-in-cheeck, but I may have went a bit overboard, because I was a bit shocked by the original statement.

        That being said, I am enjoying the debate. I just didn’t want you guys to think that I was trying to impose my moral views on you, or that I thought that cussing was always detremental to a movie (although I know lots of friends who can debate that it is).

        • It’s all good, William. However, the way I read Drew’s post (and he can chime in if he’s around today), I think all he meant was that Mark Wahlberg has a really funny way of dropping an f-bomb that he thought could have generated a few more laughs in the movie.

          • Yeah, and that is pretty much how I read it originally as well. Like I said, the original comment was ment to be a tongue-in-cheeck remark (in other words, its a joke with a bit of truth mixed in), and was actually not ment to generate the discussion it did. However, it is an interesting discussion.

            I actually find it odd some of the comments I heard earlier, however, I do live in the Bible belt, and I sometimes forget that the morality people have down here are not always shared by the rest of the world. It has actually caused me to think about a few things, because things I take for granted, and just thought everyone knew, I am suddenly having to think about. Not saying people down here are wrong or right, but it did cause me to think “why are these things taboo”.

  3. I think it’s kind of cool that a box office post has inspired this kind of debate. 🙂

    On the cursing issue, I have to side with George Carlin. I find it kind of ridiculous that we as a society has given so much power to what are really just arbitrary words. Why have we decided that “fuck” is so shocking and offensive an assemblage of 4 letters, and not, say, “frog”?

    I don’t believe that every movie needs to be filled with swearing just for the sake of it. Nor do I believe that swearing automatically makes someone sound unintelligent. See any of the works of David Mamet for copious examples of the genuine poetry of profanity.

    With that said, I haven’t seen The Other Guys and have no opinion on whether it would benefit from swearing or not.

    • Well, in answer to the question of why “fuck” is considered a bad word, and not “frog”, the answer is not that the word itself is bad, but what it implies. The word basically means to Thrust or copulate, or, depending on which language you lean to for its origin, can also mean “To Push” and “penis”. Therefore, the word gives visions of forced, brutal, or hardcore sex, and is therefore not used in polite conversation.

      In modern days, the word has gone from its verb origin to also be used as a noun, an adverb, an adjective, etc, and can be used as a synonym for “bad” or several other meanings. However, there is not enough of a generational difference right now to seperate its sexual origin with the modern day usage (which to this day, is still used a lot with sexual meanings), and as such, the word seems to still be taboo.

  4. BambooLounge

    ^I agree with Carlin, but really, the arbitrariness of curse words is a logical extension of the arbitrariness of “taboo” in general.

    There are things in society, which are taboo, curse words simply embody the taboo into a neat four-letter (or more) package. Personally, I don’t find words offensive. As with everything in life, it is the context within which words are used that give them their actual meaning (in terms of the intent of the speaker).

    I am not advocating a hard-line rule on cursing. Cursing in abundance will make people sound unintelligent in most instances. By extension, a film filled with curses without any justification (the worlds Mamet creates generally provide justification) are equally unintelligent if they curse to seem “edgy” or because they think you can get a cheap laugh out of hearing an old woman curse.

    Dick…On topic, I don’t believe The Other Guys was toned down. I mean, I know what you mean about intentionally toned down films. If we’re talking about The Departed sans cursing, then yeah, it is silly because the world of the film requires there be cursing to seem believable.

    The whole point of The Other Guys though was to parody the world portrayed in the film (see: the musical references and such), so the lack of cursing was not an instance of toning it down, but more a natural extension of the joke that was the entire point of the film. There is a reason certain characters die fairly early on (same joke on the genre).

    The Other Guys is a parody that wants to have its cake and eat it too. It views itself as intelligently superior to the what it is spoofing, but still is exactly what it is spoofing…a buddy cop action-comedy. Not cursing was just another element of that mindset (more intelligent/witty jokes/dialogue).

  5. Jane Morgan

    A lack of profanity in movies is not a problem. And we’re good with violence. But Hollywood needs to work on increasing the sex and nudity.

    Most R-Rated films are still 1/3 censored. Sex with bras. Post sex, pull up the sheet to hide the nipples. Or the ever lame, PG-13 sideboob shot. These are lies that don’t belong, because we are aware of the censorship. It takes us right out of the story.

    When will Hollywood make ‘Transformers’ meets ‘The Dreamers’? Because that would be sweet.

    • Bra-on sex is strange, but pants-on sex leaves me with feelings of confusion. I know there are ways to arrange it, but it just seems like more of a pain in the ass than it’s worth. :p

      • What, you don’t think bra-on-sex is realistic? You don’t think two people could be so horney, that they start doing it before he can manage to get her bra off?

        That being said, I agree about the pants-on-sex. Anyone else here remember the video game Phantasmagoria? It was made famous for its Rape scene. When it came around in the game, though, both characters were fully clothed – he did not even unzip his fly. That being said, the rape scene seemed to be there for the mear purpose of having a rape scene – it really did not tie in much to the story. Yeah, I get it, evil spirit, but the evil spirit pretty much ignored the herorine of the game except for that one scene. But if they had at least have taken their pants off, I might have bought the rape. Instead, you have dry-humping in the middle of the game.

    • EM

      If my last response is one of the responses that prompted this question, then in my case you are mistaken: I do not *hate* “Pulp Fiction”; I merely found it unable to keep my interest long enough to justify my watching the rest of the film.

      • I’m the one who hates Pulp Fiction, and seem to be in a minority, but that is okay, its almost cool to hate something that everyone else loves. For the record, I also hate LA Confidential, and, although I don’t hate it, I am unimpressed with Sin City, although I will grant it that it was a really COOL concept.

  6. Jane Morgan

    Pulp Fiction hate is common. Any movie with a non-traditional story structure tends to have a smaller fanbase. Critics hyped it up, to persuade mainstream audiences to give it a try. It made huge box office for an art film. Hate grew out of that success. The huge gap between public hype and personal truth.

    I love Pulp Fiction. But I studied drama at university, and all my favorite playwrights were masters of the episodic. Pulp hit my sweet spot.

  7. Drew

    Whoa – Josh just told me to check in and see what was going on in this thread and I have to say, I’m taken aback.

    And yes, Josh is right, I was more rallying for something that isn’t specifically targeted to bored teenagers in Middle America.

    A couple of things:

    1.) I like cursing. You know why? Because it’s more real than people watching what they say as not to offend. Also: it’s really funny. I was more bemoaning the fact that Mark Wahlberg says “fuck” like few people – just see how hilarious he is in Marty’s gleefully profane ‘The Departed.’

    2.) Secondly, think about ‘The Kids Are All Right.’ That movie is rated R and I think everyone should see it. Yes, there’s foul language but the R-rating is mostly for sex, which is such a travesty I cannot even articulate it. To bring up another example on this thread, ‘Terminator: Salvation’ had tons of people getting killed, left and right, but since the violence was bloodless (i.e. not as realistic or true-to-life), it got slapped with a PG-13. Meanwhile, ‘The Kids Are All Right’ shows people LOVING each other but, nope, R rating for you!

    Basically, the spectrum of human existence is, for the most part, benefits from an R rating. This isn’t always the case (‘Days of Heaven,’ say) but to show all the dirty details of everyday human existence, the messiness of cursing and sex and violence should be explored (and shown!)

    The fact is that studios are scared of R ratings because movies are all marketed to teenage boys (SAD) and mostly feature superheroes. Two of my favorite movies this year, ‘Scott Pilgrim’ and ‘Inception’ were PG-13 movies that explored the human condition, but would they have benefited from being R? I would argue yes – the dreaminess of both films could have been pushed significantly if the violence and/or sexuality was pushed further.

    Something tells me this topic deserves its own post.

    • BambooLounge

      I’d say this topic deserves its own post as well.

      My main argument with the “I like cursing” argument is that, not all films are intended to be “real.” That is the entire point of cinema. It is why it is annoying to hear supposed know-it alls walking out of a movie theater prattling on and on about how “In real life, that could not happen…blah blah blah” as if they are oblivious to the fact that they just walked out of a movie.

      Is cursing appropriate when the world of the film requires it (The Departed)? Absolutely. Is every film better off with it? Absolutely not. I didn’t even realize Inception was PG-13. There was not a single moment where I thought it was lacking something mature or “real life-like.” Not every movie needs to be nor should it try to be Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (a fantastic film). We didn’t need an opening shot of someone ramming Ellen Page from behind or anything like that.

      Movies are and always will be fake and ultimately unrepresentative of real life…simply placing the camera down somewhere makes a film unrepresentative of real life. I don’t think cursing or nudity or other things along the spectrum of human existence need to be in every film for a film to work. It all depends on the film itself.

      Inception and The Other Guys are two films I feel work very well and did not suffer from any form of moral censorship. As easy as it is to bemoan the Production Code, there are countless films from that era that are still better at showcasing and exploring the human condition than any fuck-filled, curse-laden, or gore stuffed film ever could.

      Art imitates life and vice versa, but neither is ever a photocopy of the other nor could they ever be.

      • I agree. Very well said. I am also going to have to make sure no one I know reads this – around here, they might brand me a witch or something for saying that Team America was one of my favorite movies of all time, and for me dropping a couple of F bombs trying to make a point.

  8. I agree that we should revisit this topic in its own post sometime, but I think we’ll wait a bit. I feel like, if we do it right away, there will just be a rehashing of a lot of the discussion we’ve already had here.

    Also, I kind of like the idea that this random box office recap has just shot up into the “Popular Posts” section. 🙂

  9. Matthew Brown

    Since some one brought up Casablanca, I would respond (though it tops my list of favorite movies) that no, it indeed suffers as a result of adherence to code. Despite the fact that Louis is overtly trading exit visa’s for sex, the absent sex scene between Rick and Ilsa in Rick’s apartment is not just (intentionally) ambiguous, I think the pacing of the rest of the movie is slightly upset. Certainly I don’t think that Rick should have told Lazlo on the airfield that “She tried to pretend it wasn’t [over], and I fucked her,” but that the “And I let her pretend” would have substantially more punch to it if the audience wasn’t left to wonder just how far Ilsa’s betrayal (condoned by Lazlo or not) actually went. Again, I’m not saying that showing nudity would improve the scene, just some kind of cue that the couple actually did what people actually do. I would recommend reading the books that many of those old movies were based on, the Maltese Falcon and all of the Raymond Chandler books deal much more explicitly and honestly with the human condition than any movie Bogey was in, and frankly the stories typically are richer make more sense. I would argue that just because there were films made after the Hayes Code was instituted that “explore the human condition” does not mean that a gratuitous film can’t do the same just as well. I think the author is right when he says that the spectrum of human existence is better represented and explored with adult themes left intact. Compare pre-1934 films to the later ones to see the same phenomenon.

    And since we have examples of retroactive sanitization, would anyone argue that law enforcement should be carrying radios instead of guns in E.T., or that Han Solo is a better person after shooting Greedo in self defense? I was somewhat distressed to hear Roy Batty’s classic line changed to “I want more life, father” at the end of Bladerunner: The Final Cut. Ironically, the violence and nudity cut from original versions has been restored. Now, I have mixed feelings here, the substitution actually makes a bit more sense, but the scene is now less visceral, less raw, Roy’s rage at his mortality is now muted. Is anyone protected or society better served by alterations like this, pre- or post-production? No, the entire concept is asinine and juvenille. If there was a god, I would also be inclined to cuss it out if I met it.

    • For what it’s worth, the Blade Runner line was shot both ways originally. Ridley Scott knew that the scene would give him trouble with the MPAA. The American theatrical cut said “father” while the European theatrical cut said “fucker.” For the Final Cut, Scott had his choice of whichever one he wanted to use (since the ratings board is much more lax about language these days). He decided that “father” made more sense thematically.

    • BambooLounge

      Re: “How far Ilsa went”

      I think that level of intrigue and ambiguity works in the film though. Like you said, it may have been left intentionally ambiguous and I don’t mind that at all. If they show or allude to Ilsa having sex with Rick, it changes a lot about the characters. Not showing it allows the film to preserve its basic character constructs. Lazlo is this sort of altruistic hero-type. If he basically pimped his “true love” out for the greater good, suddenly he looks more mad than altruistic. Ilsa becomes a tawdry pawn as such a scene (forced/pretend sex) with Rick would completely eviscerate the entire subtext between them that there actually was lingering feelings of love between them.

      Basically, it would change the entire film around. You may think those changes are good or not, but nevertheless, it is not the same movie. Personally, I’d find it a cheaper film for it as well. Ambiguity is just as much a part of the human condition as fucking and cursing. Lazlo may need to wonder now just what his love did with Rick. Perhaps he sent Ilsa there, but maybe he really didn’t know about it at all. It adds depth to the story for certain things not to be spelled out.

      The film as it is put the audience in Lazlo’s shoes by the end. We assume Rick has sex with Ilsa, but maybe we don’t want to believe it (like Lazlo), we want to run with the altruistic “for the cause” line of thinking. Making something more obvious in a film is not automatically better.

      As for revisionary moralizing (ET), that is just silly. There is no reason to go back and start sanitizing films. When the film’s director does on his/her own though, it is tough to call it is annoying, but I feel it is their right…their film…their cuts. If changes are made against the director’s wishes, then we have a problem.

  10. BambooLounge

    *I wish we had an Edit button…

    “Tough to call it sanitizing in the same way as when a film maker is forced to do it by a studio or censors. It is annoying when a director does it, but I feel it is…”