What movies ratings have been the most incorrect?

I’m thinking of America’s rating system, which contains G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17.

My wife and I watched Beowulf last night, and this was clearly an R rated movie. It’s not that we minded that much, though if we had a 13-14 year old child, we would have been quite shocked. We know it was a “cartoon”, but the nudity and violence were very over the top and very realistic.

Terminator 2, however, is a quite mild “R”. I thought the same when I saw it in 1992. Basic Instinct, around the same time, has the same rating. T2 is a PG-13 movie, with relatively mild violence. Basic Instinct is quite violent and contains tons of nudity.

What other movies were rated too high or low in your opinion?

In the early days of the MPAA ratings, some of the movies that got G rated were surprising: Shirley MacLaine as a dance hall girl and part time hooker in Sweet Charity, numerous onscreen battle deaths in The Longest Day, John Wayne in The Green Berets (one gruesome death), Gone With the Wind (implied rape, consorting with prostitute, child’s onscreen death by broken neck, man shot in face), Planet of the Apes (violence, rear nudity).

The Hawaiians got a "GP rating, before they reversed the latters and made it “PG” (what had formerly been an “M”. It has some pretty impressive mostly-nude women that I fully appreciated.
Midnight Cowboy got an “X” rating, and I’ve heard it said that in later years it wouldn’t have gotten higher than an “R”. But it was the early years of the rating system in the US, and “X” hadn’t acquired the stigma it would soon get. I think they were hoping to make it an “adults only for artistic reasons” “x”, like Britain had*, but that idea never caught on in the US. People still argue that this is a case where the MPAA ratings system was harsher than the US Catholic Bishops’ system, which didn’t give Midnight Cowboy the corresponding “Condemned C” rating. But that misrepresents the situation, I think. MC was an “X” for completely different reasons than most “X” films (It was clearly supposed to be like the later “NC-17”). I doubt if you’ll find another “X” film that wouldn’t be Condemned.

*I was astonished to see old movie posters that showed that The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms – the ur 1950s Monster Movie – received an “X” Certificate in Britain when it was first released. Heck, I grew up watching that on TV in the US, and must have seen it for the first time only 10 years or so since that release.
It shows you what “X” was really supposed to be, initially.

I listen to the Adam Carolla show everyday and there was much talk about how ridiculous the “R-rating” that was given to his new independent film The Hammer was. Having bought and watched the DVD recently I cannot agree more. The argument for it being an R is simply beyond understanding. There’s no cursing or nudity. The most passionate moment is a innocent kiss on a doorstep. The most revealing scene was Carolla clothed from behind using a urinal. This movie should have been a PG movie, not a PG-13 and certainly not a R.

I guess there wasn’t enough payola involved.

The Hammer was rated R for “brief language”.

Jaws was rated PG…nowadays, it would be at least PG 13, maybe even R.

I own a neat little flick called Primer that’s rated R, and yet has not a word of profanity, drop of blood, or sexual content in the entire film.

That very link at the IMDB says it is rated PG-13. Did they change it?

“Rated PG-13 for brief language.”

Wow, weird. I’m holding in my hand, as I type this, the DVD box with an R-rating on it. I wonder if it was retroactively changed at some point? Does that even happen?

The move does not have a single word of profanity in it.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office for Film and Broadcasting: “Some crude language.”

Is it true that having the good old “f-bomb” once in a movie is an automatic PG-13, and twice is an automatic R? I’ve always thought it was funny that one of my all time favs, Waiting For Guffman, is rated R because of the one old guy auditioning with the Raging Bull scene. The movie was practically rated PG aside from that.

I don’t think f-bombs do make an automatic R rating. Steven Bach’s excellent film book “Final Cut” mentions the fight he had over the R rating for “Manhattan”. He almost got it to a PG on the grounds that, although it used the f-word several times, the overall artistic merit and fact that it was used nonsexually overrode those worries. As it turned out, the ratings board finally saw the movie :confused: and rated it R due to Woody Allen’s relationship with a 17 year old.

I think that The Passion of the Christ should have been NC-17. Or I would, if I didn’t feel the whole MPAA procedure is capricious, incredibly flawed and downright corrupt, rendering the NC-17 rating basically useless. IMHO. YMMV.

Anyway, that film was waaaay too graphic and horrifying to be shown to anyone incapable of knowing what they are getting into and deciding accordingly if it is appropriate for them.

I actually liked the film despite my deep, abiding hatred of Mel Gibson, but I cannot understand how an otherwise loving parent could willingly expose their young child to that film. I know that parents were bringing their six and seven year olds to it and in the legal venue of my mind, that amounts to effin’ child abuse. Gah. :mad:

I also vaguely recall either seeing or reading about some film which had little to no profanity, no violence at all, and very little (if any) sex, but it was rated R (or maybe NC-17) simply and only because it focused on a homosexual relationship. This was a while back but not in the dark ages - like maybe the early nineties? I just remember thinking it was a crock, but unfortunately I don’t remember the specifics well enough to be convinced that I’m not just making it up. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Umm, an R rating should be enough to tell parents not to bring their 6 year olds. Anyone who brought a 6 year old to Passion of the Christ is an idiot. Hell, anyone that has a problem with the graphic violence in that movie has no business talking about the Passion play. That shit is SUPPOSED to be brutal. The entire point is that it’s about as brutal as brutal can be.

Well, you must understand that people ARE, in fact, idiots. “Oh! Let’s go see that new movie about Jeeeeezus! Bring the kids! I bet it’s like ‘The Ten Commandments!’”


It was rated “M” (a recommendation, but not a restriction, against being bought or watched by anyone under 15) for “Mature themes”. I can only assume that this just so that small children don’t get hopelessly confused.

My example is a game rather than a movie. Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification refused classification for the game Fallout 3, for the game’s “realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method (bringing) the ‘science-fiction’ drugs in line with ‘real-world’ drugs.” As Wikipedia says, this means that it is illegal for anyone in Australia to get a copy:

Thus, the OFLC proved that they’re a bunch of idiots.

A classic bit of improper ratings caused the creation of the PG-13 rating: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom got a PG despite some rather graphic violence, causing an uproar.

And, discussion above made me go check my copy of Primer. It says PG-13 on the case.

An old article that has since been taken off the web stated that the use of “fuck” is one of the few hard-and-fast ratings rules that the MPAA has. Essentially, one non-sexual use of the word (“Fuck off!”, or, “That’s a fuckin’ shame.”) would be an automatic PG-13, while one sexual use, or two or more non-sexual uses, would be an automatic R.

Amadeus was, if I recall, PG when it was released. But the DVD Director’s Cut got an R rating because of the addition of a brief scene with breasts. Idiots.