The real-life story of ex-mafia boss Michael Franzese and his journey to Christ in "God the Father" received an R-rating by the MPAA, leaving Christian audiences wondering whether they should still see the film or not.
In an era where violence and sexual content onscreen is more common than ever, the MPAA helps ensure a "clean moral tone" in order to protect moviegoers from offensive content. Due to scenes of crucifixion in "God the Father," the film was deemed too violent for the MPAA, resulting in an R-rating.
In theaters on Oct. 31, "God the Father" includes vivid depictions of his life as a mob kingpin and as a man transformed by faith in an effort to portray Franzese's true story of redemption. The film demonstrates the violence realistic to the life that Franzese committed to. Additionally, a scene depicting Franzese's epiphany in prison that includes Christ's crucifixion tipped the scales in the direction of an R-rating for the MPAA.
The MPAA's R-rating of "God the Father" struck a chord with Franzese, who said it was "out of touch."
"I spent over 20 years on the street, every day in violation of both God's laws and the laws of man," the mobster-turned-Christian motivational speaker said in a statement. "And the powers that be have a problem not only with mob reality being seen, but also with Biblical history? You see worse images and stories on the 6 o'clock news! The entertainment business can't afford to be out of touch with real world problems our youth are experiencing, from gangs to drugs and violence. Anyone over 13 needs the opportunity to see this film."
Furthermore, Franzese assured moviegoers that "God the Father" was made with good intentions and justified the violent scenes as being "real."
"It's real world stuff [the Mob scene footage] that is around us all the time," he said in a press release. "It's not the gratuitous violence most movies include for the audience reaction, but real life, real crime and real people. All ages need to see this, but especially our young people who are confronted every day with opportunities to go down the wrong path… This film was created from my reality, for all to see a life outside of the mob, a way out… But you have to see the reality of it to understand the impact of the redemption that can occur, as what happened in my own life."
Despite its R-rating, "God the Father" is very much a Christian film, and it is not the first film of its kind to receive the restricted MPAA score. "The Passion of the Christ" of 2004 was also rated-R, and although the controversial film drew debate over its Biblical content, it remains the highest-grossing R-rated film in U.S. history, according to the MPAA.
"God the Father" opens in select theaters across the U.S. on Friday, Oct. 31. For more information, visit the film's website here.
Watch the "God the Father" trailer here.