PG-13 Movies That Got Away With R-Rated Content
The line between PG-13 and R is a very, very fine line indeed. It’s the difference between one F-word and three, the difference between a bloody gunshot and a clean one. Someone can talk dirty, but they’re bumping up the rating if they swear. It’s very complex and seems kind of subjective, to be honest. Still, the difference between PG-13 and R also means the difference between a huge box office gross and a much, much smaller one. One look at the highest grossing movies of all time will tell you that there isn’t an R-rated movie anywhere near the top — Deadpool comes in closer to number 80, yet it’s the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. For this reason, many debates have occurred over ratings. Likewise, many PG-13 movies have gotten away with R-rated content over the years.
It seems a little strange that a documentary about what it’s like to be bullied in school would receive an R rating, making it so that no school-aged teens would even be able to see it, which might be why this movie was granted a PG-13 rating on appeal. There’s a lot of language, a lot of bullying, both verbal and physical, but it seems the MPAA (the people in charge of assigning ratings to films) ultimately decided it was important for the film to be short in schools which requires a PG-13 rating.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Anchorman 2 is much dirtier, much stranger, and much longer than its predecessor. But, being the sequel to one of the most iconic in quotable movies of all time, an R-rating would have cursed it and guaranteed less money at the box office. For whatever reason, the MPAA allowed this very profane film to receive a PG-13 rating despite multiple F-bombs (which are typically a guaranteed R) and very vulgar jokes. Maybe they thought audiences would be fine with it because, after all, the movie is “kind of a big deal.”
The King’s Speech
Maybe it’s because it’s a true story, but the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech managed to get its R rating down to a PG-13 through the appeals process. All of the F-words are in one scene, where the stuttering King George VI swears repeatedly out of frustration. It’s possible the MPAA changed their minds and realized that this important historical film needed to be seen by a wider audience, but it’s more likely they knew this movie was destined to win awards and gave the studio a break for that reason.
The Austin Powers trilogy
The Austin Powers trilogy spoofs the James Bond franchise, but the only way Mike Myers seems to know how to spoof something is to add in more sex jokes than you can count. That’s why it’s surprising that all of these movies didn’t face any trouble when receiving their PG-13 ratings. All three movies rely heavily on dirty jokes and the notion that all women think Austin Powers is the most attractive man they’ve ever seen, so there’s an abundance of vulgarity yet no R rating.
Drag Me To Hell
Sam Raimi is incredibly savvy at just about any genre he sets out to work on. Action, horror, drama, superhero — he can do them all incredibly well. The one genre that he’s really perfected has to be horror, though. Surprisingly, his 2009 horror film is as dark and gruesome as his classic Evil Dead films. Just as surprising is the fact that this pulpy and gritty film is only rated PG-13. It just goes to show that horrific violence, terrifying sequences, and disturbing images are just fine with the MPAA as long as there aren’t any F-words.
Honorable mention: Gremlins, Beetlejuice, Temple of Doom
You could say the MPAA still trying to iron out any kinks in the system. Seeing as the PG-13 rating is still relatively new, one can assume that a few movies will probably slip through the cracks and receive the wrong rating. There are plenty of R-rated movies that could pass for PG-13, plenty of PG movies that could pass for G, and plenty of PG movies that probably should’ve gotten an R rating by today’s standards.
Gremlins, Beetlejuice, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are all PG-rated movies that existed before the R rating and get away with foul language, graphic violence, and other thematic elements that rightfully spawned the creation of the PG-13 rating. Perhaps one day a movie will come along that will convince the board to create a rating that exists between PG-13 and R, but for now, keep an eye out for the rare straggler that beats the system.
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