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Shortbus [2006] [NR] - 10.4.8



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Editor's Note: While this film is evidently as explicit as a pornographic movie, it was released by a Hollywood studio, it is playing in regular movie theaters, it has been reviewed by prominent critics and it was shown at international film festivals. Therefore, it was necessary that we review it. While it was not rated by the MPAA, it is being treated as NC-17 by many of the theaters that are showing it.

Sexually explicit urban drama that follows the sex lives of seven New York City denizens. Among them is a dominatrix, and a sex therapist who cannot reach an orgasm. With Sook Yin Lee, Lindsay Beamish, Raphael Barker, Jay Brannan and Justin Bond. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. [1:42]

SEX/NUDITY 10 - We see a room full of nude men and women having sex in various positions; genitals are clearly visible, including erect penises and penetration, in several club scenes.
 A nude man lies on a floor (his genitals and buttocks are clearly visible), brings his legs up over his head and stretches to put his erect penis in his mouth; he then masturbates and ejaculates on his face. A man masturbates (we see his genitals and rhythmic movement) and ejaculates on his own face.
 A husband and wife have sex in a variety of positions: her bare breasts, pubic region and buttocks are clearly visible, we see thrusting and hear moaning, and his genitals, bare chest and buttocks are also visible.
 Three men have sex with each other, performing different acts on each other at the same time (they are all fully nude and erect penises are clearly visible).
 Two fully nude men (their bare buttocks and genitals are visible) sit on a bed together, they caress each other, they lie on the bed and they have sex (one man penetrates the other and thrusts). Two men have sex (we see kissing and thrusting) and another man watches.
 A man masturbates while a woman in dominatrix costume whips the bottom of his feet; he ejaculates and we see discharge on his face and on a painting hanging on the wall behind him. A man (his erect penis is clearly visible) masturbates while watching a pornographic video (we hear moaning) and his wife interrupts him.
 A husband performs oral sex on his wife (she is fully nude and her bare breasts and pubic region are clearly visible). A woman puts a vibrating egg in her panties and gives her husband a remote control to use to stimulate her and communicate with her (we hear buzzing several times and she reacts each time by twitching).
 Two women lie in bed together, they kiss and caress each other, and one woman climaxes by rubbing against a vibrating mechanism that the other woman is wearing. A woman wearing a sheer negligee (her nipples are visible) masturbates using a vibrator. A woman masturbates in several scenes trying to reach orgasm, but is unsuccessful.
 A woman wearing a dominatrix costume (her cleavage is visible) cracks a whip near a man, he grabs her and pushes her onto a bed and they kiss. A woman wearing a dominatrix outfit whips a man who kneels on a bed and he moans with pleasure. A woman wearing a dominatrix costume (her cleavage is visible) cracks a whip near a man and yells at him.
 A man lies nude in a bathtub (his genitals are clearly visible). We see several photographs of a nude man with genitals and buttocks clearly visible.
 A man and a woman kiss passionately. Two men kiss tenderly, two women kiss tenderly and a woman and a man kiss tenderly. A young man kisses an elderly man and they hug. A woman kisses a man dressed as a woman. A man caresses another man's arm and kisses him.
 Two men sit in a jacuzzi and look at each other, and one moves toward the other implying that he is interested in him sexually (the scene is interrupted).
 A woman tells another woman that she saw her husband having sex with a man. Several women talk about their best sexual experience. Two women talk about orgasms and how they can affect relationships. A man describes a part of a woman's anatomy in crude terms. A woman confesses that she has never had an orgasm. A man talks about having been an paid escort.
 A man reaches into another man's pants and makes a remark about him being "sexy." A woman (she's a prostitute) holds a sex aid in her hand and several other aids are lined up on a window sill (there is a variety of sizes, shapes and colors).

VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - A man swallows a handful of pills, ties a plastic bag around his head, climbs into a pool and falls unconscious (another man pulls him out of the pool before he drowns).
 A man in a jacuzzi screams when he feels something under the water and it turns out to be a dead man (we see him floating in the water and another man tries to revive him but is unsuccessful).
 A woman punches and hits a man. A therapist and a client yell at each other and the therapist slaps the client in the face. Two men shove each other. A woman wearing a dominatrix outfit whips a man who kneels on a bed, and a woman wearing a dominatrix costume cracks a whip near a man and yells at him. A woman screams and pounds a mannequin leg on the ground.
 We see a man in a hospital bed after a suicide attempt and a woman in the room has a tag around her neck with the words, "Suicide watch on it."
 A man ejaculates and we see discharge on his face and on a painting hanging on the wall behind him. A man ejaculates on his own face. A nude man in a bathtub urinates in the water (we see a yellow stream). A woman urinates and we hear trickle start and stop several times.
 A woman talks about her father having "raped her without touching her" because of the way he would always watch her. A woman imagines being lost in thick woods. There is a reference to 9/11 being the only real thing the current generation has experienced. Someone says that someone ejaculated on a cat. A character talks about using menstrual blood as makeup in a performance art piece.

PROFANITY 8 - 34 F-words and its derivatives, 45 sexual references, 7 scatological terms, 15 anatomical terms, 9 mild obscenities, 3 derogatory terms for homosexuals, name-calling, 19 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - People eat cannabis-laced popcorn ("potcorn"). People drink beer in several scenes.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Sexual hang-ups, sexual dysfunctions, homosexuality, infidelity, free sex, AIDS, suicide, monogamy, sensory deprivation, 9/11, depression, love, voyeurism, incest, mythology of the female orgasm, agnosticism, forgiveness, fear, hate, impotence.

MESSAGE - We are all in charge of our own happiness.

Special Keywords: S10 - V4 - P8 - MPAANR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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