Try as the MPAA might to make movie ratings work, you're bound to run into a movie branded for the wrong audience. Whether it's overly punishing fleeting moments of mature content, or going easy on an established franchise or director, the following six movies could have used another screening before they slapped the rating on the poster.
6- The Dark Knight
PG-13 is the comic-book movie rating. From the campy Batman and Robin to the sinister Spawn, any movie featuring cape-wearing crimefighters seems destined to get the middling, unenforceable rating. With The Dark Knight, however, we wonder whether an R rating may have been more appropriate. Between the sudden acts of extreme violence (particularly the "pencil trick"), the mature themes, and the overall macabre tone of the movie, The Dark Knight stands as an altogether different breed of superhero movie--one that may have warranted a different rating.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the idea of being haunted by an evil spirit is pretty freaky. Take a situation where the ectoplasmic inhabitant is angry-as-all-get-out and decides to steal a little girl and you've got yourself a horror movie. Throw in some tormented wall-climbing and a scary-sounding small southern woman, and you have yourself a GREAT horror movie. But just because sweet Carol Anne happens is forced to endure all of these abhorrences doesn't mean other small children should have to suffer them, which we're sure a few parentally-guided tykes had to when this film released at PG.
4- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Oh sure, it's got an animated lead character, just like most Disney films, but also like most Disney films the story came from a pretty dark place. The only difference with Roger Rabbit is that they brought the gruesome details out into the open for everyone, including children, to see. From the movie's setting (the seedy underbelly of Old Hollywood) to the explicit sexual references (anyone care for a game of Patty Cake?), this films was WAY above the heads of the kids who expected to see a silly rabbit flop about. Add in the gruesome dissolving of various entities, including a heretofore human-cum-animated villain, and you've got the stuff nightmares are made of. Or at least a solid PG-13 rating.
3- Planes, Trains and Automobiles
This classic stars Steve Martin as the stressed-out ad executive and John Candy as the bungling salesman (of showercurtain rings to be exact). The two are thrown together by fate in the form of a shared cab and the rest is comedic history. Not only does the film star two of the most unassuming, non-threatening actors of the 80's (stand-up work not withstanding), but it's written, directed and produced by John Hughes-the guru of the 80's brat-pack dynasty which was all pretty tame. The only rationale given for why this featherweight film earned an R is for the rain of F-bombs dropped by Steve Martin on a rental car agent. Kids probably heard worse language coming from their parents bedrooms at night. This was a fucking PG-13 easy.
Turns out Jessie Spano really knows how to get a party started! Elizabeth Berkeley, formerly known as Saved by the Bell's ambitious overachiever, shed more than just her innocent image in this story of a stripper's journey. But seriously, why would they give her totally Oscar-worthy performance in this break-out movie an NC-17 rating? All we saw were boobs! Granted, they were everywhere in this movie, but that was it! The so-called "risqu" film was more like a weeknight on Skin-emax, only Shannon Tweed. Even Mark Wahlberg's prolonged porn-making and fake schlong didn't rise Boogie Nights above an R. I guess it's a good thing that rating kept so many people from seeing Showgirls, lest Berkeley become overwhelmed with offers and resort back to popping caffeine pills.
Jaws is one of the greatest movies of all time. It's well-made, stars great actors, and has some of the most memorable one-liners of all-time, not to mention a giant shark! But when this cinematic masterpiece was released to the thrill of audiences everywhere, this PG movie didn't have the necessary rating to ensure that everyone who saw it could handle it. Four people and one puppy were killed before you even got a good look at what was doing all the eating. Chrissie's death was violent and cerebral (what was in the dark water?), Alex Kintner's death was gory (blood fountains galore), Ben Gardner's boat was destroyed and his bloated corpse left behind, and the Man On The Rowboat was torn to pieces before being consumed (you see his bloody stump of a leg fall to the bottom of the sea). The anti-hero, Quint, eventually gets bit by the big one where he's chewed in half while screaming in agony and eventual spews blood across the deck. How many parts of this movie are actually fit for children? No parts, that's how many. While this movie was produced before PG-13 was a viable option, giving this bloodfest an R wouldn't have been extremely shocking.