The MPAA ratings for movies are woefully inadequate. Yes, they tell you something about the “moral” content of a movie. For example, if your middle-schooler wants to see a movie of non-stop violence and mayhem, no problem. If he or she wants to see an important documentary about social ills that happens to include more than two F-bombs, that’s verboten. Makes perfect sense, huh?
But what about those of us who have no children to helicopter around but who care about other types of content? Have no fear! I’ll prime the pump with a few suggestions:
This is a movie populated by idiots doing idiotic things. It could be teenagers opening doors in buildings where serial killers are known to be. (This concept was lampooned most effectively in a hysterical Geico commercial.) Romantic comedies are also prone to this moronic behavior. If they just told the truth at the beginning, none of the misunderstandings would happen. And the movie would never have been made. That’s called “win-win.”
You’ve seen them. Movies so bad, you wonder what now-unemployed producer gave this beast the green light? They have no positive qualities but someone shelled out several (sometimes hundreds) millions of dollars to get it made. You spend the entire movie asking yourself, “Who thought this was a good idea?” (q.v. “Mortdecai“)
By the end of one of these things, your scalp is bleeding because you spent the whole time scratching it. Instead of asking, “What did you think?” you ask, “What happened?” Let me say up front that I like some of these movies. Some I like a lot. This label could be applied to “2001”, as well as most films by Terrence Malick or Wes Anderson. After all, it’s good to have something to talk about after a movie other than the headache you got from the extreme volume and non-stop light show of special effects. Some so labeled, however, are simply self-indulgent nonsense. The poster child for this category is David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.” More prominently and more recently I’d add the interminable “Interstellar.”
The worst kind of movie. This is the equivalent of the current NC-17. Except these should be labeled, “no one over or under the age of 17 will be admitted.” Some of the aforementioned movies could also carry this caveat, but the most renowned recent example is “Boyhood.”
Do you have any labels you’d like to add?
[Congratulate me for not shamelessly promoting my new book.]
PK-21 – Unexpected and gratuitous puking scenes that will sicken those over 21 years of age.
PHYS – Extended action sequences that defy all laws of physics.
Perfect! In this day and age, every movie has to carry the PK rating. I made that very point in a previous post. I also got into an online “debate” (read: argument) on the topic with some other screenwriters. It’s a cliche – nothing more, nothing less. It makes me want to barf.
The PHYS label is great, too. I’m OK with defying the laws of physics (unlike Scotty who constantly bemoaned Kirk’s attempts to do so) in the right kind of movie. If it’s mindless nonsense, then go ahead and overthrow reality. If it’s supposedly intelligent fare (favorite example: “Inception”) then it’s cheating. Be smart or dumb but be consistent.
Hmmm… I think I see another rating idea!
NFC-WW – Not For Children (wink, wink) Such as the new Deadpool movie. What kind of sick industry creates a product TARGETED towards kids, puts very inappropriate material in it and then has the guts to say, ‘not for you kiddies’. Sheesh.
I love it, Scott! Just this morning another father was complaining to me about that movie. He told me they had to cut a few scenes to get it down to R from NC-17. It’s shameful the way some movies are marketed. It shows the desperation of the producers. The onus is on the parents (as it should be) to be discerning about what their kids see. Unfortunately, not all parents make the effort.
Thanx for your contribution to the cause of improved ratings. 🙂
Speaking of physics, I will often yell out during a movie, ‘Butter!’ or, ‘Brick!’ depending on movie physics allowing a sword or car etc. smash through anything – OR when the opposite happens i.e., our hero can be pummeled, flung, dropped etc and still walk or drive away intact.
You’ve just anticipated another post I’ve been considering: Ways to pass the time while watching a dreadful movie. Calling out such nonsense is an excellent idea! Look for more to come.
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