Spike Lee's provocative Sundance movie, "Red Hook Summer," will be assigned an R rating by the Motion Picture Assn. of America, with the film avoiding the more severe NC-17.
A person familiar with the MPAA's ruling who was not authorized to speak about it publicly said the group's raters had in recent days formally decided to allow moviegoers under the age of 17 to see the film if accompanied by an adult. An NC-17, of course, would have precluded any teenagers from seeing it no matter who they were with (and restricted potential play dates and marketing).
An MPAA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
"Red Hook" addresses a difficult adult subject -- to explain further would be to offer a major spoiler -- that conceivably could have warranted an NC-17 rating. Though it's impossible to make comparisons between the explicitness of two films, there was precedent: In the past few months, the MPAA has handed NC-17s to several movies with adult subject matter, including the serial-killer picture "Chained" and the upcoming revenge thriller "Killer Joe" (the latter primarily for a lone provocative scene).
"Red Hook" tells of a precocious boy who is sent to live with his preacher grandfather in a housing project for the summer, and the complicated relationship the pair have with each other and others in the community. Starring Clarke Peters ("Treme") as the preacher and several first-time child actors, it continues Lee's preoccupation with, and chronicles of, race and class in his native Brooklyn, this time adding a dose of religion as well.