These days, when a movie gets an “R” rating, we generally assume that it comes from too much violence, nudity or sex but not necessarily from bad language, since so many formerly forbidden swear words have gone mainstream. But there’s no getting around the F-bomb, as actor/director Ben Affleck found out the hard way when the MPAA slapped his highly anticipated new film “Argo” with an R.
Affleck isn’t bothered by the judgment, however, particularly since the curse word’s use stems from a frequent callback to an old knock-knock joke — and that’s why he’s encouraging the under-18 crowd to sneak into a showing this weekend.
“It is an R-rated movie, mostly for language,” Affleck told MTV News, saying there’s no getting around the age-old knock-knock joke’s profane punch line. “We say ‘Argo f— yourself’ a couple of times, so you have to get an R. But this is age-appropriate for me. If you’re 11, 12, it’s absolutely no problem. If you’re under 18, sneak into this movie, but don’t buy a ticket for a different movie, because then we don’t get the credit for it. Have a friend buy a ticket and then sneak into it.”
The multitalented Oscar winner said he considered editing out the F-words, but ultimately decided that the joke was worth the R.
“I thought, ‘Maybe we take this out to get the rating,’ and then I thought that it’s somehow so emblematic of what it is, and so cool kids who are 12, 13 will find their way to this movie if their parents won’t mind them seeing it,” Affleck said. “You have kids out there seeing torture porn; I think this is perfectly acceptable, and I think that [MPAA] language thing is archaic, the ratings board’s [standards].”
All this fuss is over some well-delivered F-bombs, the origins of which Affleck’s scene-stealing stars John Goodman and Alan Arkin were happy to explain.
“The first time I saw the title of the thing, when they told it to me, [the joke] was the first thing I thought,” Goodman recalled of “Argo,” which is also the name of the sci-fi movie within the movie. Goodman then proceeded to perform both sides of the joke for MTV News: “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Argo. Argo who? Argo f— yourself!”
“I thought it was going to be about Jason and the Argonauts,” Arkin chimed in, prompting Goodman to launch into some improv of bad lip-dubbing from the 1963 film, which sent Arkin into a fit of giggles.
“Save yourselves! I will handle the Cyclops!” Goodman mimed/overacted. “He will not come near you, Medea, my love! We must flee! Hercules, my friend! I have just returned from Rome!
Check out everything we’ve got on “Argo.”