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Top 10 Movies That Had The Wrong Rating

VO: MW
Josh Schasny Rating movies is a vital part of deciding which audiences are suitable to watch them, but sometimes things don't go as smoothly as planned and movies get the wrong rating. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movies That Were Given The Wrong Rating! But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Poltergeist, Jaws, or Once Upon a Time in the West? Watch to find out! #10. “Coraline” (2009) #9. “The King’s Speech” (2010) #8. “Red Dawn” (1984) #7. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996) #6. “The Lovely Bones” (2009) #5. “Sucker Punch” (2011) #4. “Lost in Translation” (2003) #3, #2, #1 ?
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Think of the children! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies That Got the Wrong Rating.

For this list, we will be looking at movies that either escaped judgment or were too harshly handled by the MPAA’s ratings system in North America. Whether it be sex, violence, language, or a mixture of all three, these films should have warranted a second look.

#10: “Coraline” (2009)

Neil Gaiman fans flocked to the theaters in 2009 when “Coraline,” the animated feature based on his famous children’s novel, was released. With a loyal following consisting both of kids and adults, “Coraline” seemed like a fun family movie outing. However, the film’s creepy atmosphere didn’t resound too well with audiences who expected something a little more lighthearted. Although the PG rating highlighted the film’s more intense scenes, there was still a considerable amount of parental backlash about “Coraline” not receiving a PG-13 rating. Whether it traumatized younger viewers or not, the horror comedy kept the PG rating and has since become a quirky horror classic.

#9: “The King’s Speech” (2010)

Profanity and family outings make for strange bedfellows. Such was the case with Tom Hooper’s Oscar-winning 2010 drama, “The King’s Speech.” While pretty much a flawless piece of entertainment that was appropriate for all ages, the MPAA stuck an R-rating on the film, much to the moviegoing public’s dismay. This high classification was due to the profanity-laced speech therapy sessions that the titular king must attend to get over his nerves. These scenes, meant to be honest and slightly comedic, were later censored by the Weinstein Company in order for the film to obtain a PG-13 rating. However, the overall effect of the scenes was muted as a result.

#8: “Red Dawn” (1984)

John Milius’ fantastical war-scenario film, “Red Dawn,” has the dubious honor of being the first ever PG-13 rated film in history, and for obvious reasons. As there was no middle ground between the PG and R ratings, “Red Dawn” seemed to fit the bill. However, some viewers balked at the ultra violent introductory scenes of the movie, as well as the depiction of war crimes, foul language, and general disturbing violence seen throughout the film. It seems that the film should just have received the R rating regardless.

#7: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)

For Disney’s seventh renaissance-era title, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the studio took a much darker approach to its storytelling in adapting Victor Hugo’s very non-child friendly–novel to the big screen. This G rated animated flick gained pretty good reviews upon release, being praised for its more mature storyline, but “Hunchback” also suffered from parental criticism, deeming the film to be too scary and violent for younger children more familiar with Disney’s lighter works. Needless to say, the gothic imagery, hellscapes, and thematic elements are more suitable for a PG rated film.

#6: “The Lovely Bones” (2009)

Although an average success theatrically, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel, “The Lovely Bones,” was one of those movies that would have benefitted from an R rating. With a depressing storyline involving child murder and pedophilia, the bold decision by DreamWorks Studios to market the film to a younger demographic was its own undoing, hurting the overall impact the film was supposed to have. Citing poor story development but great acting, “The Lovely Bones” fizzled out after a moderate take at the box office, leaving us wondering if Jackson’s film would have gained higher clout had it been given an edgier rating.

#5: “Sucker Punch” (2011)

Already known for hard R-rated action gorefests such as “Dawn of the Dead” and “300,” this steampunk thriller was a glorified piece of eye candy for many young viewers. The scantily clad vixens populating “Sucker Punch” gained strong criticism from feminist groups claiming the film objectified women, and shouldn’t be broadcast to tween viewers. Although it had the look of a “Sin City”-esque comic book film, “Sucker Punch” barely made back its budget at the box office, with many citing a flawed and watered-down story as the reason. An R-rated director’s cut was later released, and it is largely considered an improvement.

#4: “Lost in Translation” (2003)

Sexual content can be a death sentence for modest films looking to obtain a lower rating. This was the case with Sofia Coppola’s quirky – and mostly harmless – “Lost in Translation.” Featuring hardly any language and no violence whatsoever, it was confusing to see why this film received an R rating. The offending scene – in which the characters attend a Japanese strip club - hardly has the same effect as other nude scenes in PG-13 movies, such as “Titanic.” Despite the unnecessarily high rating, the film gained widespread acclaim and even a screenwriting Oscar for Coppola.

#3: “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968)

Although the MPAA’s current rating system was not yet in effect by the time of Sergio Leone’s epic “Once Upon a Time in the West”’s release, its stylized yet shocking violence garnered it a pretty tame rating when it came out. Originally receiving an M rating, which is equivalent to today’s PG, it seems a bit too tame given the film’s high body count and shocking violence, which includes onscreen rape, child killing, and mild gore. When the MPAA started re-rating films, they slapped a PG-13 rating on this iconic Spaghetti Western.

#2: “Poltergeist” (1982)

Remember gathering around the TV as a family to watch “Poltergeist?” Didn’t think so… Although virtually bloodless, Tobe Hooper’s supernatural thriller is one of those movies that could be impressionable on young kids, mainly because its PG rating made it obtainable for children at video stores upon home release. While the film’s practical effects may be dated, they are still horrific, with faces peeling off and skeletons emerging from swimming pools. Underlying themes of murder and hauntings aren’t exactly kid friendly either. Although it was originally given the R rating, it later appealed to the PG rating it currently holds.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “The Hunger Games” (2012)
Rated PG-13, Should be R

- “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001)
Rated R, Should be PG-13

- “Boyhood” (2014)

Rated R, Should be PG-13


#1: “Jaws” (1975)

Hollywood and the public never saw this one coming. Steven Spielberg’s landmark action-horror film, “Jaws,” surpassed audience expectations and became one of the first ever blockbusters to earn big at the box office. Some of the film’s success may be chalked up to its tame PG rating. Even by 1975 standards, the film’s gory shark attacks, detailed close-ups of severed limbs, and terrifying atmosphere would have garnered an R rating if it were a picture backed by a smaller studio. Yet this little piece of cinematic mastery escaped heavy censorship and managed to set the bar for thrillers in the decades that followed.
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