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10 Movies That Were Rated R for Basically No Reason
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10 Movies That Were Rated R for Basically No Reason

Movies are an excellent form of entertainment that often push the boundaries of storytelling and challenge our perceptions of the world around us. However, sometimes a film’s rating can be perplexing, leaving audiences scratching their heads and wondering why the movie was deemed inappropriate for younger viewers.

In this article, we’ll explore a selection of movies that were rated R for pretty much no reason, uncovering the reasons behind their questionable ratings and examining whether they truly deserved to be considered unsuitable for younger audiences. From the shocking to the ridiculous, get ready to discover some of the most surprising films rated R for seemingly no reason.


10 Stand By Me (1986)

Columbia Pictures

Stand By Me is a coming-of-age film about four pre-teen boys who embark on a journey to find the body of a missing child. The movie was rated R due to its strong language (with many parents commenting it had too much swearing, especially F-bombs), depiction of underage smoking, and one scene of juvenile delinquency. However, many film critics argue that the R rating was unnecessary because the movie is ultimately a nostalgic and heartwarming tale about childhood friendship and the experiences that shape us as we grow up. The movie’s use of profanity and smoking was intended to capture the rough-and-tumble reality of life for young boys in the 1950s. On the other hand, the scene of delinquency was an important plot point that served to underscore the characters’ motivations and growth throughout the film.

9 The King’s Speech (2010)

Colin Firth as King George VI
The Weinstein Company

The King’s Speech is a biographical drama directed by Tom Hooper that tells the story of King George VI’s struggle with a stutter and his relationship with his speech therapist Lionel Logue. The movie was rated R due to its profanity, specifically the repeated use of the F-word in one particular scene. The MPAA justified the rating by stating that the language was excessive and used in a sexual context. However, some critics and audiences have criticized the R rating, arguing that the language is in context with the characters and the story and that the film has educational value in highlighting the challenges of those with speech impediments.

RELATED: Almost 60% of All Movies Since 1968 Have Been R-Rated

8 Nebraska (2013)

BruceDern-Nebraska (1)
Paramount Vantage

Nebraska, an American black-and-white road comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, received an R rating mostly due to its use of strong language. The film tells the story of Woody Grant, an elderly man who sets out on a road trip to Nebraska with his son after receiving a sweepstakes letter claiming that he has won a million dollars. While some critics and audiences have argued that the film did not deserve an R rating, it is essential to note that the MPAA’s rating system is primarily based on the amount and intensity of explicit language, violence, nudity, and drug use.

In the case of Nebraska, the film’s frequent use of profanity was deemed strong enough to earn it an R rating. However, many critics and audiences have praised the film for its mature and nuanced handling of complex themes, such as aging, family dynamics, and the American dream. They argue that the film’s subject matter and execution make it suitable for a wider audience than the R rating suggests.

7 Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, is a coming-of-age film that follows the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane). The film was rated R for language, including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use. However, despite the R rating, many critics and audiences believe that Boyhood is suitable for young audiences and an essential viewing experience for them. The film deals with universal themes of growing up, family relationships, and self-discovery, making it relatable to viewers of all ages.

The film’s realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by young people, including drugs, alcohol, and sexuality, can help young viewers navigate these issues in a safe and informed manner. Some argue that the MPAA should have given Boyhood a lower rating, such as PG-13, to make it accessible to younger viewers while still warning parents about the content.

6 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Steve Martin as Neal Page and John Candy as Del Griffith
Paramount Pictures

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a comedy film about two strangers, Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy), who find themselves stuck together while trying to make it home for Thanksgiving. The film was rated R due to its strong language, particularly in one scene where Steve Martin’s character unleashes a profanity-laced tirade at a rental car agent.

While cursing is a common reason for films to receive an R rating, many critics and audiences argue that it was an overreaction in the case of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. They point out that the film’s language is not excessive or uncalled for and is used in a comedic context rather than to shock or offend. Additionally, they argue that the film’s positive messages about friendship, empathy, and kindness make it appropriate for a wider audience. Some also suggest that the film’s R rating may have resulted from a broader trend in the 1980s when the MPAA was more strict with its rating system.

5 Army of Darkness (1992)

Army of Darkness
Universal Pictures

Army of Darkness, a horror-comedy film directed by Sam Raimi, tells the story of a man named Ash Williams who is transported to the medieval era, where he must fight an army of the dead to find a way back to his own time. The film was rated R due to its violent content, language, and sexual references. The violence in the film is often exaggerated and over-the-top, with scenes of characters being sliced, diced, and dismembered in a cartoonish and comedic manner. Additionally, the film contains several instances of strong language and sexual innuendo.

Critics and audiences who argue that the film should not have been rated R often point to the fact that the violence and language are played for comedic effect and that the film is clearly not meant to be taken seriously. They also note that the film is aimed at a specific audience, namely fans of horror and comedy, who are likely to be desensitized to violence and language of this nature. Some argue that the film is more deserving of a PG-13 rating, as it is less graphic and disturbing than many other R-rated films.

4 Eighth Grade (2018)

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

The coming-of-age film Eighth Grade was rated R for language and some sexual material. The film depicts the struggles and challenges of an eighth-grade student named Kayla as she navigates the social complexities of middle school. It features some mature themes and language, such as discussions about sex, drug use, and online harassment, which are realistic depictions of the issues faced by many young adolescents. However, some critics and viewers have argued that the film should not have received an R rating, as it realistically portrays the experiences of many middle school students and is an important film for that age group. They argue that the film’s themes and language are essential to the plot and message of the film. Despite the rating, Eighth Grade has been widely praised for its honest and empathetic portrayal of adolescence and has been credited with helping to start conversations about the challenges young people face in the digital age.

3 Phantom Thread (2017)

phantom thread
Focus Features

Phantom Thread was rated R due to its mature and adult themes, including strong language, nudity, and suggestive content. The film’s central character, Reynolds Woodcock, is a renowned dressmaker with a tumultuous relationship with his muse, Alma. The film explores the complexities of their relationship, including themes of control, obsession, and domination. The movie’s nuanced portrayal of these themes and its slow pace and deliberate style led the MPAA to deem it unsuitable for children under 17 without parental guidance.

However, some critics and audiences have argued that Phantom Thread should not have received an R rating. The film’s mature themes are handled with subtlety and nuance, and the nudity and suggestive content are not gratuitous or explicit. Instead, they argue that the film is a work of art with a complex and beautifully realized story and characters that deserve to be seen by a wider audience. Additionally, some argue that the film’s rating may have prevented younger audiences from experiencing its deeper themes and ideas, which are relevant to audiences of all ages.

RELATED: Naughty and Nice: The Best Holiday Movies with an R Rating

2 There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
Miramax Films

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood is about a ruthless and ambitious oil prospector named Daniel Plainview, who goes to great lengths to acquire land and resources. The film was rated R for its intense violence, strong language, and sexual content. The violence in the film is particularly brutal, with scenes depicting beatings, murder, and other forms of physical violence.

There are also several instances of strong language, including using the F-word. Critics and audiences have argued that though the film has too much violence, it’s the kind with no gore and little blood. They also feel that the violence and language were necessary to the story. Many have also praised the film‘s nuanced portrayal of complex characters and themes, such as capitalism, greed, and the American Dream. Parents feel the movie has a perfect message to kids about greed and how it could impact someone.

1 The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix Reloaded
Warner Bros.

The Matrix‘s depiction of martial arts violence, gunplay, and the use of bullet time effects contributed to its R-rating. There were also a few instances of sexual innuendo and profanity that also added to the film’s mature rating. Some critics and audiences, however, have claimed that The Matrix should not have been rated R, arguing that its violence and language were not excessively graphic. They also note that the film’s themes of individuality, self-discovery, and the pursuit of truth are universal and relevant to all ages. Others argue that the film’s rating is inconsistent with other films that have received a PG-13 rating despite containing similar or even more extreme violence. Despite these arguments, the MPAA maintains that the film’s content was unsuitable for children under 17 without parental guidance.