Movie ratings can help audiences adjust their expectations, guide moviemakers to create the perfect story, and help cinemas curate their programs. Overall, a pretty great thing, right? Well, movie rating systems haven’t always been a thing, and even when they matter, they can be used wrongly and make movies potentially lose quality or substance.
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The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has been rating features since 1968, but the system changed since. The current categories are G – general, PG – parental guidance, PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned, NC-17 – no one under 17 allowed, and R – adults only. Redditors in the r/movies thread discussed PG movies that should’ve been rated R, and how these ratings affected them.
10 ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ (2000)
The 2000 stoner movie that defined the decade, Dude, Where’s My Car? is rated PG-13. In it, Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Sean William Scott) wake up with little recollection of events from the past evening; they embark on the journey of piecing together what eventually turns out to be a wild, out-of-this-world night (pun intended).
While the film’s PG-13 rating seems justified, Redditors disagree. The user dj_narwhal had a great answer: “Dude Where’s My Car was supposed to be rated R, but the studio made them cut some things to make it a more marketable PG-13,” adding, “If you listen to the commentary, which is amazing, they were both really mad about the situation.”
9 ‘The Expendables 3’ (2014)
While folks mostly agree that The Expendables 3 is the weakest in the franchise, its PG-13 rating may not be the main reason. Despite the numerous cameos from MMA fighters and big stars, the plot and entire film fell flat. Would the movie have been better if it had been rated R instead? This may be unlikely, but Redditors had a lot to say about The Expendables 3.
The user jsb93 wrote: “That pissed me off. Multiple gun fights. NO blood,” commenting on the movie’s lack of realistic gunfights. Another user, cdrewsr388, said: “Adding all those MMA fighters and making them try to act was a terrible mistake. Soooo bad. The first two were great and the third one was just lame.”
8 ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
Many people in the Reddit discussions agreed The Dark Knight, one of Christopher Nolan’s best movies, would have benefited from an R rating. The PG-13 rating is justified, though – there’s moderate violence and gore; for a studio like Warner Bros., this is enough to pass it to wider audiences. But The Dark Knight is fairly difficult to watch at moments.
Heath Ledger would’ve benefited the most from an R-rating, and Redditors agreed. The user denizenKRIM said: “When you have a character like Joker utilized to his full monstrous potential, it absolutely would benefit to have an R rating. Not “to look cool”, but simply to be unashamed in depicting the violent nature of this utter psychopath.”
7 ‘Taken’ (2008)
Yes, Taken, the movie about a young girl getting kidnapped and trafficked, and where Liam Neeson threatens everyone and everything in his path is rated PG-13. In some ways, there’s no obvious evidence why Taken shouldn’t be PG-13; all the shock value moments are constrained. However, the movie most folks saw was the highly edited theatrical version.
Was the unrated version, though gorier and psychologically darker, a better release? The movie may end up too heavy to watch, though Redditors disagree, like the user PovRayMan: “I only ever saw the Unrated version of Taken and was utterly shocked when I ended up seeing parts of the PG-13 edition. The unrated version is the true version and it kicks serious ass.”
6 ‘Poltergeist’ (1982)
To be fair to Poltergeist, it was filmed during a time when PG-13 didn’t exist. It’s still classified as PG only, despite frightening people of all ages. The gore in the film is only considered moderate, but there are many frightening scenes. Who could ever recover from the face-pulling scene or the jump scare of a murderous clown?
It’s one of the most terrifying movies in cinema,and Redditors can’t seem to understand how anyone thought it was PG. One user wrote: “Poltergeist was straight up PG, and scarred me for 20 years,” and wbgraphic replied: “It was released shortly before PG-13 existed, and may actually have been one of the films that prompted the MPAA to create the new rating.”
5 ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016)
Has the original Suicide Squad ever sparked a positive discussion? Despite the star power in it, the movie didn’t work for many reasons. Its pacing and CGI, the story in shambles, and Jared Leto as The Joker mostly contributed to the movie’s failure. Additionally, some Redditors think the movie’s PG-13 rating contributed to its lack of success.
The rating was most likely determined by the studio since David Ayer said he created a nuanced drama that was “beaten into a comedy.” Who knows, maybe his cut would have been R-rated? The Redditor Rubix89 isn’t sure: “I don’t think an R rating would have saved it but it would have made it slightly more interesting to watch.”
4 ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’ (1985)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome sees Mel Gibson in another post-apocalyptic sequel as Max Rockatansky, while Tina Turner portrays the terrifying Aunty Entity. The movie was rated PG-13 because there aren’t any gory or excessively violent scenes, but is there anything kid-friendly about utterly hopeless portrayals of the future and cage fights to the death?
Redditors agree this movie shouldn’t be PG-13. Bomber131313 said: “In all reality Thunder Dome should have been R. Just to be clear I’m saying it deserved an R rating as is.” Another user, BillClay29, explained the rating: “I think all of these films fail for the same reason: when you’re making a film that is based on an R-rated franchise, dropping to PG-13 is almost always a bad move.”
3 ‘Sucker Punch’ (2011)
Sucker Punch is one of those Zack Snyder films everyone loves to hate (and hates to love). Snyder goes all out, making this feature fairly interesting and feminine in the end. Of course, there is a Snyder Cut which likely isn’t PG-13. Sucker Punch is about an institutionalized girl who retreats into her imagination, plotting fantastical escape scenarios.
For someone young, this plot may escape them while Emily Browning wields a katana dressed like a schoolgirl. For adult audiences, these escapes into fantasy are an understandable coping mechanism. The user TheUltimateInfidel added to this: “I feel Sucker Punch being rated R might benefit the storytelling and the action sequences because a lot had to be left up to central imagining.”
2 ‘Alien vs. Predator’ (2004)
What do we get when two of the most terrifying and iconic aliens on film are put in one feature? A PG-rated Alien vs. Predator (AVP). Both Alien and Predator originals are rated R for blood and gore, but what did 2004’s AVP accomplish with this Clash of the Titans? It’s interesting how putting together two beloved villains didn’t seem to work out at all.
Most Redditors agree that AVP could have benefited from being made in line with the Dark Horse Comics story from 1989. Yet, it may have been the studio, the budgeting, or a sum of all things that made this adaptation bad. The user WarrenG117 wrote: “Although I think the movie is awful, I think Alien vs. Predator could have greatly benefited with an R rating.”
1 ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (2007)
By 2007, the Die Hard franchise reached iconic heights. Everyone knew John McLaine’s famous catchphrase and watched the first movie every Christmas. So, when Live Free or Die Hard came out, it was expected for audiences of all ages to watch and rejoice in the fourth installment – or at least that’s what the PG-13 rating demanded of the film.
Live Free or Die Hard is fun and doesn’t deserve all the hate, which probably stems from the missed opportunity of rating it R. Redditors agreed this probably contributed, with one user saying: “The unrated cut on the DVD changes a grand total of 3 things, and it makes a ton of difference. I can only imagine how much better it would have been had it been written as a hard R like the previous 3.”
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