The Motion Picture Association of America takes its ratings seriously. It is through these ratings that they direct potential viewers to movies they might enjoy… and how they avoid excessive governmental regulation and lawsuits for exposing children to inappropriate material.
The rating system is a bit of an art form, though. Because movies are complex works, context and duration will mean that sometimes similar activities or statements will trigger different ratings.
Sometimes, the ratings board is just a little bit lost. They know what rating they want to give a work, and they can’t really explain it… but explain it they must.
Here, then are some examples of the ratings board being strangely specific. All of these were the actual explanations provided by the MPAA.
Three Ninjas Knuckle Up – Rated PG-13 for non-stop ninja action.
Godzilla vs. Biollante – Rated PG for traditional Godzilla violence.
Bushwhacked – Rated PG for language and a mild birds and bees discussion.
Pink Flamingos – Rated NC-17 for a wide range of perversions in explicit detail.
Cutie and the Boxer – Rated R for nude art images.
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar – Rated PG-13 for subject matter involving men living in drag, a brief scene of spousal abuse and some language.
Mean Girls – Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some teen partying.
Jefferson in Paris – Rated PG-13 for mature theme, some images of violence and a bawdy puppet show.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 – Rated PG for swashbuckling violence and mild language.
Twister – Rated PG-13 for intense depiction of very bad weather.
There are more. “historical smoking” is a red flag these days, and the ratings board often seems upset by “action violence”, whatever that might be. Really, though, for many contemporary movies the offensive sequences are added specifically to avoid getting the family-friendly “G” rating, which is considered the kiss of death at the box office.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite G rated movie?