The box office flop Miss March has plenty of material that could be considered offensive, which as I recall was one of the film's main selling points. The film's graphic depictions of poop, the accidental drinking of dog urine, jokes about epilepsy, plenty of nudity, and all the nonstop filthy dialogue you'd normally associate with R-rated sex comedies. But audiences who rent or buy the DVD when it comes out this Tuesday will find one less offensive thing than they found in theaters: the film no longer uses the word "retarded."

And thank goodness! Drinking pee is OK, but calling someone "retarded" is over the line.

I noticed this while reviewing the DVD for another outlet. There's a scene in which two abstinence promoters are trying to frighten kids into never having sex, and they share a story about a teenager who smoked while she was pregnant, causing the baby to come out a "crack head." Except the actress' lips clearly weren't saying "crack head." Her lips looked like they were saying "retard." The baby is mentioned twice more, each time with "retard" replaced with "crack head." Later in the film, someone's behavior is described as "stupid," and again it's clear that he originally said "retarded." Both the theatrical and uncut versions of the film are on the DVD, and they both have been de-retarded. (Which means the theatrical version isn't really the one that played theatrically, and the uncut version has been cut. Nice job.) I didn't see the film in theaters, but plenty of reviews confirm that it used the word "retarded," and the two fellow-critics I asked verified it. The change appears to be new for the DVD, and perhaps also for the film's U.K. theatrical release in September.

There's been no official word from 20th Century Fox, but one assumes this was done in response to criticisms from the groups that usually complain whenever the word "retard" shows up in a film. There's a group for everything, as you know, each one believing that its cause is more worthy of attention than the other groups' causes. If a character smokes a cigarette, that upsets the Don't Smoke in Movies people. If a character has a disease, condition, disability, or affliction, it will upset the corresponding group, unless it is portrayed with 100 percent accuracy and without being the butt of any jokes. (Make all the jokes you want about everyone else, though. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the Don't Say "Retard" people didn't voice objections to anything else about the movie.)

I can see the reasoning if the word is used in a film that is otherwise praiseworthy and decent. The filmmakers might truly have meant no offense and included the word thoughtlessly. But taking "retard" out of Miss March, apart from being as useless as applying a bar of soap to a sewer, overlooks the fact that the film is supposed to be offensive. It's aimed at an audience that WANTS politically incorrect humor. By taking out the five or six uses of the R-word, what is Fox saying? That it stands by every objectionable element of the film, just not THAT one? Why is this one any worse? Because the other special-interest groups didn't complain loudly enough?

Not that I'm upset or anything. Heck, it's your movie, do whatever you want with it. (Same goes for you, Sacha Baron "Make Fun of Everyone but Chicken Out When One of Them Dies" Cohen.) I just think it's amusing how studios are really "bold" and "daring" up until somebody complains, whereupon they turn tail and run.

And by the way, if you haven't seen Miss March, don't bother. With or without the word "retard," it's awful.
categories Features, Movies, Cinematical