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The Rating that Ate Everybody
by Tim Josephs

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I recently saw IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. It sort of was like GARDEN STATE meets ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST with maybe a little RUSHMORE and (500) DAYS OF SUMMER thrown in, but not nearly as good as any of those movies. It was decent but I felt as though it could've gone much further. There was really a chance to explore some dark mental-health territory and the film barely grazed the surface. Then I saw what the rating was and it all made sense: PG-13.

Ah, PG-13, the rating that's meant to appeal to everyone. Sure, there might be some innocuous curse words (but no more than one f-bomb), and maybe a butt crack (but definitely no female nipples), but everyone's invited! Kids, teens, come on in! You're all welcome!

I think Steven Spielberg has made a lot of great contributions to Hollywood and the world in general, but his worst idea has to be
Thanks a lot, Steve

Thanks a lot, Steve
the PG-13 rating. Sure, eventually someone else probably would've come up with it or something similar, but he's the guy credited with the invention. And now, because studios want their product to have the widest possible audience to rake in all that money, everything's rated PG-13. (Ironically, the movie that started the PG-13 discussion, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, is much tamer than a lot of recent PG-13 films and if it came out today would probably easily get a PG rating.)

There actually seems to be kind of a PG-13 backlash lately with all the R-rated comedies that have come out, and theoretically that's a good thing. Not every movie has to be for everyone. However, it seems as though with a lot of these movies, instead of making them more adult-oriented, they just ratchet up the foul language and nudity. On a side note, does every one of
What says entertainment for kids like deadly monkeys on a killing spree?

What says entertainment for kids like deadly monkeys on a killing spree?
these R-rated comedies have to include a scene of someone on the toilet? Is that mandatory now?

On the other side of the coin from potentially good movies that get watered down to get a PG-13 rating, are the films that definitely should be R. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES ("intense and frightening sequences of action and violence"), FAST FIVE ("intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content and language"), and SHARK NIGHT 3D ("violence and terror, disturbing images, and sexual references") to name just a few, are all rated PG-13.

Of course this all goes back to the ridiculously secretive MPAA and their equally mysterious way of rating movies. A study was recently done that showed that big studio movies get much more favorable ratings than independents and smaller studios. No surprise there.

It's also no surprise that the two top
T & A and a PG-13 rating

T & A and a PG-13 rating
grossing movies off all time are both PG-13: AVATAR and TITANIC, and neither probably should've have gotten that rating. AVATAR has tons of violence and TITANIC, in addition to violence and corpses, has sex and nudity. But if they had been given their proper ratings, of course that would have hurt the box office thus denying them (at their respective times) the title of "biggest movie ever." By the way, the third highest grossing film of all time is another PG-13 film, THE DARK KNIGHT, and I'm sure if you asked ten people who saw the film what the rating was, eight would say R.

Aside from animated fare, PG movies seem to be an endangered species. That's a shame because there have been a lot of great PG movies and there could be a lot more. But because of the all mighty dollar, it seems like it won't be too long before nearly everything has that damn PG-13 rating.

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Mike Thomas
Sep 13, 2011 12:13 AM
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Everyone knows the "PG-13" rating is the Holy Grail of ratings. "PG," and by relation, "G," is as much the Kiss of Death as the "NC-17." Hell - I mean Heck - even Disney abandoned the G rating decades ago. If you want the kiddie money, you rate it "PG-13." If you want the GROWN UPS (pun intended) gimme an "R."

Oh, no - despite the pee jokes and the implied sex, IT was "PG-13."

Personally, I thought movies like POLTERGEIST and WILLOW should have gotten an "R" for it's horror and gore. But then, the tiny tots couldn't plunk down their gold pazozzas and buy popcorn.

Good commentary.
Sep 13, 2011 11:47 AM
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Thanks, Mike.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.

Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns

Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.

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