In any event, a well-done film on a controversial subject. Also, I'll NEVER live in Utah!
This movie makes the argument that simply cutting out sex will only worsen the deviancy and make it explode. Take the case study of Daniel Thompson, the so-called "face" of Clean Flicks, a humble Utah-based edited video store where families can go watch edited versions of films that shouldn't be edited in the first place (e.g. Back to the Future, the Goonies, Saving Private Ryan) or hear about how that Pretty Woman and Brokeback Mountain don't have redeeming qualities since they explore the idea of "what if the sinners actually are human instead of sick, twisted people?" You see, Daniel thrived off of the edited video business - a little too much to the point where he became a bit of a deviant - but he always saw it as himself vs. the studios. When the original Clean Flicks guys left the business as a means to obey the law, Daniel used every loophole to stay open just to "provide" families with butchered films that lose their entire meaning.
But the thing is that the film makes you feel both sides. There are couples that want to see these films, but don't feel it necessary to watch the unfiltered film because it's happier that way. However, there are directors who are peeved at the idea that families want to watch Goodfellas and Traffic. Families watching already mature films about why being a gangster is bad and why doing drugs is bad. You know, that's out of your target audience. If a film's R-rated for a reason, it's R-rated for a reason. It's like editing End of Evangelion or Guernica because "there's too much violence" or "the characters are too unlikeable." THAT'S THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE PIECES OF ART IN QUESTION.
I still see that the mindset of "exploring a killer's sick mind is horrible and should be discouraged" is still prevalent in America.
The whole idea of editing restricted films is wrong and I'm totally against it, but it makes for a
pretty watchable story.
Despite the title, most of the movie is not about the Cleanflix corporate entity, but about one man, Daniel Thompson, who was involved in the edited movies movement, both under the Cleanflix umbrella and out from under it, for a number of years. Daniel was a very vocal advocate for the movement, and he truly went down with the ship - I'll leave it to the viewer to watch the film and find out how.
Was what the movie editors doing legal? I'm not sure that was ever adequately determined, but as Daniel continues to press his luck in more and more creative ways through the course of the film, it stops being about what is legal and starts seeming to be more and more about what is morally right. The interesting dichotomy comes to the forefront in interviews with some of the edited movies customers. Why would a guy who says he is opposed to graphic violence even be interested in movies like "Goodfellas" and the Godfather series? And, if there is a moral problem with watching a movie made by a corrupt film industry which refuses to issue cleaned-up versions of its product, how is it okay to pay money for their product even if it has been sanitized after the fact? The edited movie industry always operated under the premise that one copy was purchased from Hollywood for every copy sold. Buying a cleanflix copy of a movie still (in theory) sent money to the film studio that put the sex, profanity, and violence in the movie in the first place.
I was aware of the edited movie phenomenon while it was going on; I never purchased an edited movie, but for a while I was a ClearPlay customer, and I did enjoy being able to watch certain movies with my kids present that I would not have watched otherwise. It was interesting to finally be able to get some of the back story of Cleanflix and their copycats and hangers-on, and see some of the connections I was not aware of, such as the genesis of the idea being based on teachings of the Mormon church. I wouldn't call this a spectacular film, and I came out of it wondering about certain elements of the chronology (how did Daniel's incident with the teenage girls occur inside his store after his store was already closed down permanently?), but it's certainly an interesting story. If you have any interest in the movement Cleanflix was part of, definitely take a look.