If life is R-rated, why can’t movies?

G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17

Above are possibly the most recognizable series of letters and numbers known to man — the MPAA rating system.

Heck, they even surpass the Canadian system. It’s much easier to say a movie’s PG-13 or R instead of 14A or 18A.

The subject of today’s commentary is how movie ratings are becoming taboo. More specifically, the R rating.

Now playing in theatres is the trailer for “Be Cool,” the sequel to the 1995 crime-comedy “Get Shorty.” The most notable difference between the first and second movie are the MPAA ratings:
– “Get Shorty” is rated R for language and some violence.
– “Be Cool” is rated PG-13 for violence, sensuality, and language including sexual references.

Now it is quite unusual that an R-rated film will get a PG-13 rated sequel. While, some of it can be contributed to the fact that the PG-13 rating allows more today than it used to, the easy answer for the change is simple — money.

Over the past few years, movie studios seem to have found that the PG-13 is a pure goldmine. If a movie is rated PG-13, it is virtually open to any age group. It’s grown up enough for the adults, yet still appropriate enough for kids. Also, the fact that most people, who go to movies, are teenagers with disposable income probably doesn’t hurt either.

Another thing to take note of is the growth of the un-rated DVD. Various movies (mostly comedies and horror films) have been released in Un-Rated cuts on DVDs. While this can be interpreted as a way for filmmakers to keep their original vision of the movie, un-restrained by the limits of the MPAA, iIt’s also, obviously, a way for the studio to get even more money in the bank, since they tend to release the original cut as well.

So, in conclusion, we seem to be living in a world where an R-rating is avoided in order to make more money. And while unrated DVDs may seem to be a responce to this, they are probably, in the end, just part of the money-making scheme. Feel free to comment on this.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).