I just watched Hancock last night. Great film about redemption, though it involves quite a bit of mostly non-gratuitous crudity to get to its point, and is better suited to an adult audience. I really wasn’t thinking about the rating when I watched it, but I wish the MPAA were more nuanced, like the USCCB Film Office.
The MPAA questioned elements including Smith’s character drinking in front of a 17-year-old and the character flying under the influence of alcohol. Scenes that were removed to garner a PG-13 rating from the MPAA included a scene of statutory rape, two of three uses of the “f-word” (the MPAA only permitted one use for the PG-13 rating), and intense shots of needles going into arms. The MPAA allowed scenes of Hancock shoving a prisoner’s head up another’s behind and of Hancock having explosive ejaculation during sexual intercourse, though Berg chose to save the latter scene for the DVD, explaining, “It just wasn’t that funny. Never was. You’d put it in front of an audience and there’d be two, maybe three people laughing. There was no way to do that and then regain even a modicum of emotional integrity.” The director kept the scene with the prisoners since a Las Vegas test screening was overwhelmingly successful: “At the end of the day, I couldn’t ignore an audience when they’re laughing that hard.” With such elements, studio executives only became comfortable with Hancock when the marketing approach focused on action and humor. Berg noted, “The ad campaign for this movie is much friendlier than the film.” The MPAA ultimately gave the film a PG-13 rating, citing “some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and language”.
Interesting that the MPAA finds it more offensive to have a character drinking alcohol in front of a minor than to have the “a” word used about 200 times in the film.
Back when PG-13 was introduced, the point was that films with serious content were getting the “R” rating when they really didn’t need it.
OK. That’s why the USCCB has “all audiences,” “adults and adolescents,” and then a series of nuanced ratings for adults, from “Adults” to “Obscene.”
Yet, even then, there are “R” rated films from the early 80s that would get “PG” now. I watched Ordinary People a year or two ago: a couple bad words, and some “adult themes.” That was rated “R”, and still gets an “R”, but a film with massive violence, almost constant swearing, and brief nudity gets a “PG-13” today.