I’ve never really watched “R”-rated movies.
Yes, my religion has influenced that decision, but honestly, it’s way more than that. Mostly I just don’t really like them. I’ve never enjoyed watching violence or seeing nudity, and swearing has never been my thing, either. Give me an off-beat, uplifting film like Secondhand Lions, Big Fish, Midnight in Paris, or Life of Pi, and I’m all set. That’s just me, and I’m well aware there are a ton of people out there who think I’m crazy.
So, in general, I stick with my “good, clean, no-higher-than-PG-13” rule of thumb. That’s what makes me happiest, and it works for me, as well as my family.
But then, there’s this one.
This one rated “R” movie I’ve kind of always wanted to see.
The one I’ve always wanted to make a bit of an exception for.
I first heard about it when I returned back from an 18 month trip around the world. I had been completely out of the film loop up until that point; I was far too busy teaching English/working on farms/living out a backpack bigger than I was somewhere in the southern hemisphere.
Case in point:
In Canada where I grew up, Slumdog Millionaire is actually only rated 14A, (they have a completely different ratings system there), but when I heard it was rated “R” in the States, I decided to let it slip through my fingers, like sand in an hourglass.
Until LAST SATURDAY.
We recently heard about VidAngel, a new online movie streaming service that seamlessly filters movies and shows – legally – and allows you to choose the filters. And it costs A DOLLAR PER MOVIE (if you watch within 24 hours).
Um – say what now?
First, you need to sign up. (It doesn’t cost anything to sign up.)
After that, you browse through and select your movie. They have a really good selection – miles ahead of Netflix and even Amazon Prime. They have new releases, too, like The Martian. You can also watch the entire Star Wars series (okay, minus the newest one). VidAngel even did mankind a favor, and created a Jar Jar Binks filter. Yes. You read that right. Your life can be JAR JAR FREE. Don’t believe me? Here’s screenshot-proof:
VidAngel: changing the world, one Binks-less movie at a time.
Once your movie is selected, you choose your filters.
Each movie is dissected, and I mean reeaaally dissected. In fact, you are going to want to assign someone who doesn’t care all that much about spoilers to take care of choosing filters. They don’t say the name of the person involved, but they do say what happens so you can decide if you want to see or hear it, or not. Clicking on the video camera to the left of the description cuts it out. Like this, for Slumdog Millionaire:
You see how when I edited out the dead body, and it crossed and greyed out like that? That means it’s going to be filtered out.
If you click on the arrows to the left, it will describe what exactly the scene or word is, along with a number in brackets to tell you how much that word or scene occurs. For example, I also chose to remove all profanity and blasphemy from the film. Clicking on the “microphone” on the right will filter it out of the movie for you, and the microphone will become muted, like this:
Another feature I love is that they show you how much of the movie you’ll be missing, so you can really decide if you think it’s worth it to continue on watching the movie before you buy. Like this:
So, as you can see, I cut out under only 2 minutes of content from Slumdog Millionaire, so it’s probably worth still watching. For comparison’s sake, I decided to look up how much would be missing from Anchorman 2:
I applied all 261 filters, and, as you can see, that’s more than 10 minutes missing from the movie! (Granted, that includes the credits.)
Once you are done selecting your filters, you pay for the movie. This is where things get interesting, and the loophole they took around the copyright/consent problem (that previous film editing companies have had) is actually genius.
So you buy the movie from VidAngel for $20. It’s essentially like buying a “membership”. That amount is removed from your bank account. Since you own the movie during that time, and you choose the filters, it’s not censorship, just personal freedom. They’ve just done all of the work for you.
Once you are done watching the movie, you hit the “sell back” button. (No screenshot, but just imagine a big blue button that shows up once the movie is done. Are you imagining? Good. You can even select “Auto Sellback” for when the movie is done.) Then, if you watch it and sell it back within 24 hours, VidAngel gives you a $19 credit to watch future movies. It’s a dollar per day, so if you take 3 days to watch it, you’ll get back $16. Clear as mud?
*UPDATE*: We had an awesome response from a reader that clarified things a little, and summed it up perfectly, so I’m going to say it here. Thanks Shea!
“To be clear on the sell-back, you get a $19 account credit, not refund, since it doesn’t go back to your bank. That being said, its like paying $19 for a “membership” to VidAngel since every movie after is only a $1. Unless you rent two at a time. Then you get charged another $20 to your account. Of course, when you sell back your left with a $38 credit to buy a movie with or slowly whittle away through rentals.”
If you want to cash it out, you can, and you can choose to keep the movie permanently as well!
So, quick overview from this page:
- BUY THE MOVIE – Pay the retail price of $20. (initial credit card payment)
- WATCH FOR $2.00 – $2.00 (per day for HD movies) is deducted from the $20 credit. $1 per day for SD or Television shows.
- SELL THE MOVIE – When finished, “Sell it Back” for $18.00 of instant credit to your VidAngel account for your next purchase.
Grand total for a 24 hour sell-back? ONE. DOLLAR.
As I watched the movie, I was impressed at how seamless the filters really were. There also wasn’t any “bleeping”, it was just silent or skipped all together. Yes, there were plenty of parts we were obviously missing, and there were moments when I thought, “Oh, I remember setting that filter – that’s what we just missed.” Overall, though, I was really glad I could read through them and choose for myself what I wanted to see. In fact, I thought several times, “Man, I wish I would have filtered that out.” So next time, I think I’ll select a few more filters. It’s all up to you and what you wish to see.
Next on the watch list? THIS.
I am a huge, huge, huge Les Mis fan, but there were several scenes in the 2012 film that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, so I haven’t bothered to purchase the movie on BluRay. (That’s kind of blasphemy for me as I love the production and book so much.) I simply CANNOT WAIT to watch it with a few of those parts taken out! (Bring on the ugly cry!)
So, in summary:
The bottom line? Protecting our families is important. We aren’t perfect, but like every other family, we try, and try, and try again. We utilize technology like VidAngel and Circle to help us, and we teach our kids what they should do when they come across something inappropriate. (Because, let’s face it, it’s not “if” anymore…it’s when.)
Oh, and Slumdog Millionaire was awesome. But sad. And happy? Still digesting thoughts and emotions over here.