One of my secret pleasures is seeing the “buried” comments in the film reviews of the current staff of The New York Times. After the body of the review but before the pragmatic details of the cast and crew listings, release dates and runtime, etc., there’s a short italicized segment that’s very easy to elide over. I suspect its inconspicuousness is intentional for it allows the reviewer, if he or she desires, a succinct and sometimes snarky way to augment the main review.
I refer to the part of the article where the film’s MPAA rating is disclosed. After this, there’s a haiku-like “explanation” of which elements of the film necessitate that rating. Here are some examples from films currently in theaters:
“Cadillac Records” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has smoking, swearing, sex and mayhem in excess, which is just the right amount.
“Seven Pounds” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Swearing. Soulful sex by candlelight. Car accident. Eggplant parmesan.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). We’re doomed!
“The Wrestler” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has fake bloodshed and real nudity.
“Wendy and Lucy” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some swearing, a little drug use and a brief implication of violence, but no nudity, sex or murder. The rating seems to reflect, above all, an impulse to protect children from learning that people are lonely and that life can be hard.
“Bedtime Stories” is rated PG (Parental Guidance suggested). Stampeding horses, angry dwarves and a Booger Monster.
“Australia” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Some bloody violence, many stampeding hooves.
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” is rated PG. Parental guidance suggested. But not required.
“The Tale of Despereaux” is rated G (General audiences). Some children and city-raised adults might find all the hungry, scurrying rats a bit (or very) creepy.
“Twilight” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Some violence, little viscera.