Rated X (2000)

The rise and fall of the Mitchell Brothers

In Rated X Jim (Emilio Estevez) and Artie Mitchell (Charlie Sheen) are in the right place at the right time–San Francisco in the 70s–when they began building their empire founded on pornography. Artie’s vision was to “make the product and sell the product” and thus make and control more money in the process. They opened the O’Farrell Theatre in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, and wrote, directed, and produced their own pornographic films–including an ‘adult’ classic–Behind the Green Door. In fact, the Mitchell Brothers ‘discovered’ Marilyn Chambers, and she catapulted to fame as an ‘adult’ actress–thanks to her performance in Behind the Green Door.

Plagued by arrests for obscene materials, the Mitchell Brothers battled all and any charges brought against them by claiming their right to Free Speech. When Behind the Green Door was released, the millions rolled in–but only a relatively small amount of money came the Mitchells’ way as pirated copies popped up in adult theatres all over the country. So then the Mitchell Brothers took on organized crime to protect the copyright of their products.

The relationship between the brothers is the most fascinating aspect of this film. There’s a little background information given on the family, and it’s obvious that the brothers are abnormally close. Even their wives were shut out of Jim and Artie’s relationship. The brothers are interesting characters–flexible, innovative and ready to respond to market change. Unfortunately, when given oodles of money, endless narcotics and alcohol, the chemicals inevitably created a highly explosive situation that was exacerbated by money squabbles. Like most partnerships–things soured. Estevez’s direction is marvelous, and my only complaint is the bald-skull caps the brothers wore–they looked hideously cheap.

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