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Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure [2011] [NR] - 3.4.10



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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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Two men living in late 1980s San Francisco argued and fought loudly every night, while other tenants listened, taped the arguments, stimulated new arguments with crank phone calls to the apartment, taped the ensuing reactions and gave copies to friends, thus creating a cult classic art piece. With Ivan Brunetti, Daniel Clowes, Mitch Deprey, Peter Haskett, Raymond Huffman, Mike Mitchell, Henry S. Rosenthal, Eddie Lee Sausage and Bob Mothersbaugh. Directed by Matthew Bate. [1:30]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - The sexuality of two middle-aged male roommates is questioned many times in the film and in audio recordings: one of the men presents himself as openly gay and the other claims "Queers are not human." A man shouts loudly two dozen times at his male roommate that he (the second man) is a "queer [expletive deleted]." In a crank call to an aging man, a younger man asks if the older man's roommate is queer and if he (the caller) should bend over and grab his ankles so he can have sex with him.
 We hear that a man in a bar asks two younger dinner companions, "Well fellows, we could get a room," implying sex and drinking; the younger men decline. We hear that a younger man kisses an older man several times in order to get him to sign a contract.
 Two men dance together in their apartment. In a snapshot, we see a man standing in the middle of a highway with his jeans down around his ankles, bare-legged and his shirt tails covering his genitals.
 A pregnant woman stands clothed in her kitchen as her husband kisses her very large belly.

VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - Throughout the film we hear audiotapes played as voiceovers, and we see cult film footage and comic book conversation balloons depicting violent arguments between two men in a small apartment. Slapping sounds are heard in audiotapes. In a play re-enactment of violent audiotapes, one man takes a large carving knife, cuts open the obviously fake, fat belly of the other and pulls out yards of material painted red to resemble intestines; twice, one man seems to beat and kick the other man behind a couch and use the carving knife to decapitate him, holding up the gory, obviously rubberized head to the audience.
 Twice, filmmakers in monologues accuse other filmmakers of greed and exploitation; then the accused men state in their own monologues rather angrily that that they are not greedy or exploitive.
 On tape recordings, a man shouts loudly many times at his male roommate that he is a "queer [expletive deleted]" and we hear sounds of slapping. We hear a man tell another man 7 times, "I will kill you." A man tells another man that knocks at his apartment door, "I was a killer before you were born and I'll be a killer after you're dead." A man says, "I didn't know an old roommate of mine was dead until the other day. It made me happy."
 A man claims twice to have been wounded in World War II; another man laughs at him and the first man shouts obscenities at the second. A man says that two male roommates were good friends while sober and enemies when drunk, which was nightly.
 A filmmaker has several taxidermied, two-headed calves in his office as decorations, along with the skull of another one under a glass dome on a side table. A human skull sits in a basket in a living room window and we see it twice. We see four images of people dressed as devils with pitchforks poking people in the ears.

PROFANITY 10 - About 103 F-words, 27 sexual references, 47 scatological terms, 11 anatomical terms, 16 mild obscenities, name-calling (fat, jerk, dog, queer, dirty, filthy, cheating, liar, lazy, sick old man, bum, little man, greedy, vindictive, ho (whore), fool, redneck, potheads, queer-hating, loons), exclamations ("shut up, little man!" and "shut ups!") 26 stereotypical references to the Chinese, gays, homophobes, old men, old women, San Francisco, alcoholics, college kids, welfare recipients, the Midwest, filmmakers, 12 religious profanities, 5 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man smokes a marijuana cigarette and a woman smokes drugs from a bong, a bedside table is filled with packets of unmarked pills of some sort, and a man tells another man that potheads get hungry for sweets. Several snapshots show men and woman smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and liquor, a man smokes a cigarette and we see 5 empty beer bottles on a side table, two men in a bar drink from glasses of liquor and a cartoon man sitting across from them smokes a cigarette and drinks from a glass of alcohol, a coffee table in an office is filled with empty beer and wine cooler bottles, several long rows of shelves are filled floor to ceiling with various liquors in a liquor store, two men each hold an open magnum bottle of champagne in a photo, two Muppet-like puppets behave drunkenly by stumbling and holding glasses of liquor and while in the hallway of their apartment building another puppet holds a flask of vodka and trembles, and we hear two men arguing with one calling the other a drunk and they both slur their words. A man smokes a cigarette, two men smoke cigarettes while driving a car in a snapshot and two men dance together amidst heavy cigarette smoke in their living room.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Aging, alcoholism, sexual orientation, homophobia, homosexuality, loneliness, recreational drugs, conflict, relationships, privacy laws, filmmaking, art vs. exploitation.

MESSAGE - Art should be thought provoking and target the human condition.

Special Keywords: S3 - V4 - P10 - 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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