Stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, with a little help from the James Bond franchise, won their fight to have the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) lower the rating of their new film, Philomena, from R to PG-13.
Coogan personally attended a meeting with the MPAA’s Classifications and Ratings Board in Los Angeles yesterday (Nov. 13) to appeal the film’s initial R rating. The rating was due solely to multiple instances of profanity in the dialogue rather than violence or sex (of which the film contains zip).
The board reversed itself, granting Philomena a PG-13 rating instead.
To beat the drums for their cause, Dench and Coogan had earlier released a video spoof on the Funny or Die site. In it, Dame Judi reprised her role as M from the James Bond films, dispatching Coogan’s dimwit Agent 002 to plead with the MPAA.
Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, which is releasing Philomena, said in a statement afterwards, “We owe this victory to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond series, Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes who, because of their relationship with Judi Dench, gave permission to spoof the ratings system using the M character. We know that went a long way into shedding light on the themes of the movie and the fact that the PG-13 rating was correct. We are glad the MPAA has a good sense of humor and with the cooperation of Barbara and her team it was proven once again no one does it better than James Bond.”
Philomena, which opens Nov. 22 in the U.S., tells the true story of an elderly Irish woman (played by Dench) who enlists a BBC journalist (Coogan) to help her track down the son she gave up decades earlier for adoption. Coogan also co-wrote the screenplay.