Support journalism that matters to you

Since COVID-19 impacts us all and we want everyone in our community to have the important information they need, we have decided to make all coronavirus related stories free to read on While we are providing free access to articles, they are not free to produce. The newsroom is working long hours to provide you the news and information you need during this health emergency. Please consider supporting our work by subscribing or donating.

Ratings madness and Dame Judi Dench

Nothing screams “R rating” like a film starring Judi Dench.

Dench’s latest movie, “Philomena,” which opens at several theaters in our region on Wednesday, first earned an R rating from the MPAA. Why? Because there are two times a certain swear word is spoken in it. If the filmmakers had kept that expletive to a single mention, the movie would have been given a PG-13.

Crazy, no?

Especially since, as a recent study pointed out, the MPAA has allowed more and more violence in PG-13 films in recent years.

The report from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Ohio State University showed that gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985, when that rating was first instituted. In fact, it says that the amount of violence in PG-13 films can now exceed that in R-rated releases.

Anyone who has been to a movie theater recently can second that. Violence has become louder and more aggressive and more prevalent.

The “Philomena” flap and the violence study are just more proof that the MPAA needs to rethink its rules. It’s clear that, when it comes to assigning ratings, the organization is tougher on movies with sex or bad language than it is on those with violence.

Good for Harvey Weinstein — who, let’s face it, doesn’t mind going to battle — for fighting to get the MPAA to change “Philomena’s” rating from R to PG-13 and succeeding.

So when you go to “Philomena” — which is about a woman trying to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption 50 years earlier — see if you’re so scandalized by use of that certain expletive twice that you’d want the movie to be rated R. Or if, alternately, you think the MPAA is off its rocker.

What do you think about the rating system?


Reader Comments