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“Rated R for language.”

“Rated R for language.” (photo)

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Springboarding off the muchremarked upon faux-controversies surrounding “Avatar” into a meditation upon the boundaries and limitations of the ratings system, A.O. Scott raises a point I hadn’t thought about. It’s not the R/NC-17 divide that worries most parents: “the more embattled frontier is the one between PG-13 and R.”

“It is easy,” he continues, “to scoff at that rating only if you have never received angry letters from parents or grandparents appalled by profanity.” And he’s right: it is easy to scoff now that I’m personally years away from having to deal with the whole mess. But the whole “Rated R for language” — and nothing but — deal is particularly absurd for a bunch of reasons. One is that the big studio movie that’s rated R solely for language is a real rarity: if you’re going to get the R, you’ve probably got something else going on. Otherwise, why bother potentially slicing your audience by a third?

The movies that tend to get rated R solely for language are the small indie films, the ones whose audiences tend to be so small and the lack of widespread influence so manifest you wonder why anyone would worry about their moral influence. For example: Andrew Bujalski’s “Mutual Appreciation,” a movie full of relatively clean-cut twentysomethings who — it’s true — smoke a little pot (which happened in the PG-13 “Clueless” too) and, uh…well, that’s it. Seriously, it never remotely occurred to me that this was a danger to the youth of America: like Bujalski’s first movie “Funny Ha Ha,” a PBS staple these last few years, you could show it on broadcast TV with barely any elisions.

Other candidates: “Happy-Go-Lucky,” Mike Leigh’s lovely movie of 2008. “The Puffy Chair,” the goofy road-trip movie that contains a little drunken buffoonery (not flagged for disapproval; it was a simpler time) and, frankly, doesn’t even feel all that “adult.” (Unlike those movies sometimes cited for the ever-unclear “mature thematic elements.”) “Wendy and Lucy,” for God’s sake: a poor woman homeless with her dog trying to get to Alaska and looking for her dog. And she tries to steal some produce from a grocery store (not flagged in the rating). “Bubble” (for “some” language; not sure where the boundary is). The profane but otherwise almost suspiciously abstinent teenagers of “Raising Victor Vargas.” And so on.

01222010_jerseyshore.jpgNow, I’m not a total idiot: I realize even within the confines of “Rated R for language,” some of them should probably stand. I’m old enough to remember when Alan Dershowitz had to appeal for an R instead of an NC-17 for “Clerks,” a movie whose litany of sexual vulgarity is, I suppose, best kept out of the hands of middle schoolers, if for no other reason than there’s nothing more tiresome than a teenager swearing extensively and repetitively.

Then again, all you need to do is tune into the TV-14 “Jersey Shore” for that. And if that particular cesspool of depravity is okay for 14 year-olds and up to watch, well…c’mon. Really, anything that could be shown uncut on TV barring some dubs shouldn’t be rated R.

[Photos: MPAA logo; “Jersey Shore,” MTV, 2009.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.