Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

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Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

Don’t get me wrong: I love R-rated movies with the best of them.  And especially after the drought of good, no-holds-barred blockbuster action movies that was the 90’s and 00’s, I for one am ecstatic for the adults-only movies we have been getting lately.  There’s no way that Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Deadpool (2016), Logan (2017) and Hereditary (2018) would have been nearly as good with the more audience-friendly PG-13 rating.

The scares were scarier.  The jokes were funnier.  The car chases were more thrilling.  I got to watch a twelve-year old girl sever a grown man’s head with a retractable pair of razor-bladed claws in her fists and it was just about the greatest thing I’ve ever seen before in my life.

Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

When movies are allowed to cut loose and just be themselves, it’s a magical thing: not worrying about “toning things down for the kids” and just doing the things they do best.  Some movies are just meant to push the envelope, and audiences have overwhelmingly responded to this bold new direction of the typically more sanitized Hollywood studios.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that a lot of people are missing the point.  They’re so drunk on the possibility of blockbusters being R-rated again that some appear to think that just about every movie should be.  I mean, I get that if for some God-awful reason you absolutely have to have a Venom movie, it’s going to have to be R-rated.  That franchise is way too violent (and the title character has way too many teeth) for it to slip by with a PG-13.

Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

But did Skyscraper (2018) need to be R-rated?  Did Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)?  Did The Meg (2018)?

Of course, none of those three have R-ratings, but that hasn’t stopped a certain subsect of movie-goers (and even movie critics) from arguing that amping up the sex, violence and gore on these movies was that they really needed to be good.  Never mind their budgets (too large to profit off of the smaller, R-rated audiences) nor their stories (which are conceptually lighter fair): suddenly every superhero movie needs to be Deadpool and every caper needs to be Die Hard (1988).

Not Every Movies Needs to Be (nor Should Be) Rated R

The argument that The Meg absolutely needed to be rated-R particularly stuck-out to me as a case of not understanding what a movie is trying to go for.  For all intents and purposes, the movie’s just bigger Jaws (1975): a movie that even back in the 70’s was rated PG.  Everything about the new movie’s advertising — from the “chomp” title cards to the upbeat background tunes provided by Bobby Darin — suggest light-hearted late-summer fun.  If you really wanted all the gore that would come with an R-rating, you don’t want Jaws, you want Piranha (1978), and that’s just something that this movie isn’t interested in being.

It doesn’t matter what rating a movie gets, as long as it’s what right for the story it’s trying to tell and the characters trying to tell it.  Skyscraper was a fun, family-focused mix of Towering Inferno (1974) and Die Hard that wouldn’t have known what to do with an R rating (and would have suffered from the fraction of a budget that it would have had to have worked with as a tradeoff).  Just as some movies just can’t work when shotgun blasted to the masses, some will assuredly sink if weighed down by a more restrictive rating.

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