With recent movies like Blonde and Don’t Worry Darling earning strict ratings from the MPAA, it is often obvious why they aren’t appropriate for larger audiences. However, the history of cinema is filled with movies that were slapped with an R rating when a much lower rating would have sufficed.
From uproarious holiday comedies like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to innocuous dramas like The King’s Speech, an R rating can come out of nowhere and totally catch an audience off-guard. Though plenty of movies have been unfairly labeled, users on Reddit took to the site to call out the R-rated movies that most deserved a lower rating.
A Few Good Men (1992)
Genre films often have to struggle with the MPAA for a better rating, but even the most mainstream dramas can get slapped with a surprisingly high rating. User misterdhm was baffled by an R-rated drama, saying: “A Few Good Men. There’s some swearing but no nudity, gore, or violence except for the opening scene…which is about PG-level.”
Though it lacks the aforementioned nudity or overt violence, the language is certainly what shackled the film with an R rating. Outside the courtroom scenes, every moment of the film is packed with Aaron Sorkin’s signature style of vulgar writing, and that was never going to get a pass from the MPAA.
Stand By Me (1986)
Often ranked among the best Stephen King adaptations in history, Stand by Me has become a family staple despite the fact that it has an R rating. User MondoUnderground couldn’t wrap their head around the film’s strict rating, writing: “Stand By Me. How a film like that can have an R-rating is beyond me.”
Though its content warranted a PG-13 at worst, it is the context that pushes it into R-rated territory. If the film’s events were happening to adults, it would have most likely been given a pass, but the cast’s juvenile nature meant that the MPAA didn’t look too kindly upon the things the characters were doing in the film.
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix was a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 1999, and it was seen by nearly everyone even though it had earned a restrictive R rating. A deleted user analyzed the film with modern eyes when they commented, “The Matrix. No F bombs, no overt gore or nudity…never understood why it was rated R.”
It is often forgotten that violence doesn’t have to be particularly gory for it to be frowned upon by the rating board. Many of the best action scenes in The Matrix feature copious amounts of violence which, when taken as a whole, constitute enough to earn an R rating every time.
The King’s Speech (2010)
Cleaning up at that year’s Academy Awards, the period drama The King’s Speech brought audiences to tears with its brilliant true story. User Geekgirl50 wasn’t surprised by the film’s harsh rating when saying: “The King’s Speech. Too many F words in one scene and immediately rated it an R.”
Even knowing why, the harsh rating for The King’s Speech is still quite surprising. Outside one scene, the film wouldn’t disturb even the most sensitive of audience members, but that one scene was apparently enough. Obviously committed to the story’s content, the filmmakers decided to keep the scene, and their gamble was rewarded with a slew of awards.
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982)
The Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds duo was a match made in heaven, and their lone collaboration, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, was one of the best uses of Parton’s music in film history. Of the classic musical, user OnceAndFutureMustang wrote, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is rated R, but could have been PG-13 today.”
As the title suggested, the film’s overt mentions and illustrations of sex work were never going to be accepted by the MPAA. While the film is surprisingly tame when it comes to the actual content, the mere mention and suggestion of what actually goes on in the Chicken Ranch made its R rating a no-brainer.
The Conjuring (2013)
Sparking a horror renaissance after years of lackluster Hollywood movies, The Conjuring launched a new franchise and cleaned up at the box office. Of the film’s rating, user ddottay commented, “I don’t remember The Conjuring particularly being gory or there being a lot of cursing, but it got an R rating.”
While the user’s assessment is correct regarding the film’s content, the MPAA’s assessment is a testament to the effectiveness of the film’s scares. While it may seem silly to the less puritanical among audiences, the vague idea of “terror” has been used to slap particularly scary horror flicks with an R rating, and The Conjuring earned it.
Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (1987)
John Hughes had his finger on the pulse of the world in the ’80s, and it seems like every comedy he produced in that period was a smash hit. User coach_carter1 perfectly summed up an unfairly rated Hughes movie, saying: “Planes trains and automobiles. Besides the car rental scene (18 f-bombs in under a minute) the movie is pg13 max.”
Coming as one of the rare Thanksgiving-based holiday movies, Planes, Trains, And Automobiles continues to be a popular film for families, save for one scene. At the pinnacle of his frustration, Neal unloads a hilarious diatribe-laced monologue which ticked the film up from a PG-13 to a hard R. Even so, some fans think that the language’s humorous nature should excuse it from being treated so harshly by the MPAA.
The Craft (1996)
Unlike previous decades which were easy to define, the ’90s horror scene was so diverse that no one sub-genre dominated the popular releases. Speaking of an important ’90s horror flick, user Footwarrior wrote simply, “The Craft should have been PG-13.”
The Craft is often regarded as one of the best movies about witchcraft to ever be made, and it was shot through with a fair amount of ’90s counterculture. With a cast of teen characters, the film was obviously aimed at a younger audience, yet it was saddled with an R rating. While the film isn’t particularly gruesome or vulgar, the fact that the characters are all underage helped contribute to its harsher rating.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Opinions on what is and isn’t appropriate for younger audiences has changed over the years, and that has taken R-rated movies like The Blues Brothers and opened it up to a younger fanbase. User Zimmy68 was prepared to mention the movie when they commented, “I always mention Blues Brothers for somehow getting an R rating. It would barely get PG-13 today.”
Though most audiences remember the wonderful humor and musical numbers, some forget that it earns its R rating by having crass language and an occasional racial slur. Some elements of the film have grown tamer since 1980, while others have served to justify its hard R rating over 40 years later.
Army Of Darkness (1992)
By the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy, Ash Williams’ adventures had become downright silly, but Army of Darkness still earned an R rating. User paracordboots was shocked by that fact, saying: “I watched it with my 8 year old, then realized it was R. There’s one f-bomb!”
With the action and horror elements ballooned to cartoonish proportions, Army of Darkness is certainly more comedy than horror. While it does have some mild language, the film doesn’t seem to do enough to earn an R rating besides its connection to the other two Evil Dead films. As a true testament to its overly harsh rating, some audiences, like the user, view the film without ever realizing it was rated R.