Earlier this week, I watched Danny Boyle's Millions for the first time in a good while, and I'd noticed that it was only rated PG for "thematic elements, language, some peril and mild sensuality" after an appeal to the ratings board. It's a fitting rating for a film worthy of an audience of all ages, but it made me wonder what the similarly whimsical Son of Rambow did to merit a PG-13 for "some violence and reckless behavior". I suppose the argument could be made that the behavior in Rambow lends itself more to imitation, but I know that my theoretical children (they have their mother's eyes) wouldn't be watching one and not the other.
Later that day, I saw Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, which gets an R for "some language". Now, I know that the MPAA tends to let adult-skewing PG-13 fare get away with an extra f-bomb or two (ex: About a Boy or the particular exception that is Gunner Palace), but by my count, F/N has a single -- albeit loud -- usage of Samuel L. Jackson's favorite expletive, and then nothing else that wouldn't earn an R. Isn't this just Once all over again? Are our nation's teens really going to stumble into this film and walk out worse off for it? (Robert Altman admitted on his Gosford Park commentary track that he intentionally swung an R for similar reasons.)
Now, I really enjoyed both Slumdog Millionaire and The Fall, and while I think they're fine films for mature teens, I also do think that their R ratings are justified. Can you guys and girls come up with any other examples of a rating that was perhaps too harsh? Are you flexible with your own kids if it's more profanity to blame than sexuality or violence, or if the film at hand has a positive message? Do any international readers have similar problems with their respective systems?
(Oh, and just between us, my favorite rating description yet remains 1996's Twister: PG-13 for "intense depiction of very bad weather".)