What movies ratings have been the most incorrect?

Um… you are aware of what DVD you’re talking about, no?

The other day I was looking at the case of my copy of UHF. “PG-13? Why???”

According to Wikipedia,

Oh, come on!

Things were a bit more fluid re: the F-Bomb in the 70s. Redford petitioned, successfully, to have All the President’s Men rated PG because of its educational value, despite the repeated use of (historically accurate) political ploy called “rat-fucking”. Things are much more stringent now.

One of the most egregious I remember was the PG-13 for Whale Rider which had no violence, language, or sex. But in one scene, in the background, was (supposedly) a bong, and that’s what did it. Was the bong mentioned in that one scene? Did anyone handle the bong or was there a close-up of the item? Was drug use (even casually or implicitly) ever referred to in any other way? No, on all counts. I don’t even remember seeing a bong anywhere. But someone caught it, and that was enough for the higher rating.

This led to one of the great censorship stupidities of our time: McClane’s famous catch phrase “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker” being cut from the theatrical release of Live Free or Die Hard so they could get a PG-13.

According to Wikipedia, the studio applied the X rating itself. (Unlike other ratings, “X” was never trademarked by the MPAA.) When the MPAA finally rated the movie shortly after its initial release, they did give it an R. However, the article contains no citation for this and I haven’t found any independent corroboration.

Purely anecdotal, but I’ve heard that filmmakers will often make sure a movie contains at least two “fucks” so it won’t get a PG and be seen as a movie for kids.

I know. That was ridiculous. Why allow them to film an R rated movie, then force them to re-dub it into PG-13?


Well played. :smiley:

I Capture the Castle is a cute film about an eccentric English family, which is rated R. Roger Ebert puts it better than I could:

Kentucky Fried Movie is rated R, but on the latest DVD commentary one of the writers/producers mentioned that they wouldn’t get that now…it’d be NC-17 (probably for the shower scene, Catholic High School Girls in Trouble).

While we’re on the Abrahams: during the DVD commentary for Police Squad (the one with the Gabor in the opening), they mentioned (to reinforce what others have said above) that they only get one “fuck” in a PG-13 movie, and they burned theirs in the opening sequence.

I think things got a lot more stringent language-wise by the early 1980s. The Verdict, which came out in 1982, was rated R for what seemed to be Paul Newman telling a dirty “Pat and Mike” joke and Jack Warden referring to James Mason’s character as “the fuckin’ Prince of Darkness.” When I saw it shortly after it came out, I found it hard to believe it would be rated R. In fact, had it made just two years later, I’m sure it would’ve breezed through with a PG-13.

Whenever there’s a thread about MPAA ratings I always love to mention the 1981 comedy Student Bodies. In the middle of the film it suddenly switches to a guy behind a desk who explains that R-rated films statistically make more than PG-rated ones and, “…therefore the producers of this film have asked me to take this opportunity to speak to you and say, fuck you.” They then flash the MPAA R on screen, then cut back to the film!

Thing is, near as I can tell, that really is the only reason the film is rated R!

But Tropic Thunder was R too? I know it might not be NC-17, but there’s a world of difference between these two.

I’ve read (don’t know if it’s true) that producers will put in one or two bits to try to get a certain rating in the belief that if a movie’s rater “R” it’s cooler. Or if a movie is “PG” the target audience will think it’s lame so they put a couple of swears in and it makes it a better rating.

Planet of the Apes was rated G. The film has very graphic scenes of violence, nudity and swearing. No way should it have been G, not now and certainly not in 1968.

Well, by now we all know that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was what prompted the MPAA to create the “PG-13” rating, but do y’all remember some of the earliest PG-13 movies? Let’s take a walk down memory lane:

Once they had a new rating in between “PG” and “R”, it seemed like the studios did their best to find out where the new lines would be drawn. The first PG-13 movie released was Red Dawn. At the time, it was the most violent movie ever made, with an average of 2.23 on-screen acts of violence every minute. The second PG-13 movie, Dreamscape, featured nightmarish violence, including a scene where one person pulls out another’s still-beating heart (hey, just like Temple of Doom!), and at least one non-sexual “fuck” that I can recall. The third movie was The Woman In Red, which I thought was pretty weak, and I can’t remember any language, but did have one significant scene where a naked Kelly LeBrock jumps out of bed, covering her breasts with a sheet, but fails to cover her nether regions. It’s brief, but they sneaked a little glimpse in there.

Apart from Red Dawn, I doubt any of this would fly today. Red Dawn’s violence, though frequent, isn’t very bloody. Dreamscape was awfully graphic at times. And just try to get a PG-13 for a movie with a below-the-waist shot in it today.

But anyway, in my book, any rating system that lumps Saving Private Ryan in with Planes, Trains, & Automobiles has some serious flaws. What we really need is an “A” rating for movies that are for adults only, a rating without the stigma associated with “X” and “NC-17”. I doubt it’ll happen, but I can dream.

Clerks was intially hit with an NC-17 rating based solely on its use of profanity. This was considered so absurd it drew some news coverage at the time. Miramax argued the MPAA down to an R.

The film Ma vie en rose, a sweet French film about a gender-dysphoric 12-year-old, was rated R in the United States although it had no sexual content, only a brief scene of physical violence, and a smattering of profanity. It was obvious that it got the rating purely because it dealt with transgender, which sowed controversy.

That was, as I recall, the only time in its history that the MPAA ever reversed a rating decision without the movie being re-edited and re-submitted.

The MPAA’s standards are almost laughably inconsistent. Regarding his movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Trey Parker said that the ratings board would send the movie back with notes about particular scenes that were unacceptable. “Then, we’d make it five times worse and twice as long, and they’d say, ‘okay, that’s better.’”

Supposedly, they also changed the title of the movie TO that after the MPAA had an issue with the original subtitle, “Kenny Goes to Hell.”

The MPAA also had a problem with Psycho, and the shower scene in particular. Some of the censors said it was possible to see Janet Leigh’s nipple for a few frames during that scene and Hitchcock was told eliminate those frames. He reasoned that it went by so fast that they wouldn’t even notice if he made no changes, so he told them he’d edited the scene and it was okayed even though he had not done anything. There were other changes that were made, but he bluffed his way through that one.

I should note that Wikipedia tells this story a little differently, but the above is how I remember it from a long-ago project about the movie.

No, there have been others. Psycho (1960) was rated M on its reissue in 1968, then R on its home video release in 1984, with no re-editing.

Anyone want to guess the oldest movie to get an R rating? Hint: it was a 1950s picture that got the rating on its reissue in 1969.