PG-13, 106 min.
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Kevin Clark, Jordan Claire-Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale, Cole Hawkins, Brian Falduto, James Hosey, Aleisha Allen, Zachary Infante, Rebecca Brown, Jaclyn Neidenthal, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Kimberly Grigsby, Lee Wilkhof, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Wally Dunn, Tim Hooper, Suzzanne Douglas, Frank Whaley
I’ve written about what a wonderful learning movie this is before. It is a formula movie that hits all the right notes and it hits them well, so you can forgive the formula. Jack Black is a force of nature in his prime, before people began to grow weary of his shtick. And it just makes you want to rock, which is a pretty big win considering the movie’s subject matter.
What I’d like to discuss is the MPAA’s ridiculous ruling that this movie should be rated PG-13. The ratings system has always been fairly arbitrary, but usually a pattern of some sort can be discerned. Here, I just don’t know what they were thinking. This is a PG movie all the way down the line. Yes, it contains scenes of adults acting like adults in club situations because of the nature of the music business, but even in the bar scenes there is no offensive material to be found what-so-ever. Sure, the word “ass” is used several times and in different variations. Doesn’t that mean donkey, too? OK, a few times Black is actually referring to his posterior, but c’mon, ass? Really?! And, the word “bitch” is mouthed in one of the funniest moments of the movie by the last person you’d expect to use it and referring to herself.
The only reason I can come up with that the MPAA felt this might be inappropriate to anyone under the age of 13 is that the filmmakers do show the consumption of alcoholic beverages. According to the MPAA, their reasoning for the older age rating is “for some rude humor and drug references”. Perhaps I’m missing any drug references beyond “alcoholism” or maybe that’s what they’re citing. It’s hardly a real issue in the film, however. It’s merely mentioned, not depicted. Other movies have portrayed far worse to a family audience. As far as the “some rude humor”, that’s a minor distinction compared to movies like “Shrek” or “Daddy Day Care”.