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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

wtf: ‘Eat Pray Love’ downgraded from R to PG-13 based on nothing at all

Just in case you thought it wasn’t just caprice underlying the ratings work the MPAA does, it recently awarded a restrictive R rating — because of “brief strong language” — to the upcoming Julia Roberts travel romance Eat Pray Love… and then just as easily changed it to PG-13 when the director, Glee’s Ryan Murphy, asked nicely. He didn’t need to cut anything or reedit anything or change one single moment of the film. All he had to do was ask, according to Variety.

I’m not sure why the studio, Columbia, felt that it needed to challenge the original rating: Does anyone imagine that teenagers are eager to see this movie, and will be flocking to it now that they’ll be able to see it without sneaking in? On the other hand, perhaps some teenaged girls (and a few boys) will indeed be enticed, now that we’re promised “male rear nudity” in the new rating (here’s hoping its Javier Bardem’s male rear), which also warns of “brief strong language [and] some sexual references.” Woo-hoo!



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  • Nate

    More likely they want to attract more conservative old people who shy away from anything R-rated; though It’s Complicated’s rating didn’t seem to hurt.

  • Deacon Jones

    I understand why the studio wanted the less-restrictive rating, and you alluded to it. Yes, not as many young people may be coming to see this as you or the studio think, but they don’t want to miss out on not even ONE dollar from that audience.

    On the other hand, I’m sometimes happy when the MPAA lets a film have a less-restrictive rating, although as you pointed out, the rationale can border on capricious.

    I’ll never forget the MPAA giving the movie ‘Round Midnight an R for two uses of the MF word, but let a couple of music documentaries, and the movie Sneakers, use the same word and give those movies PG-13s. Yes I know the ratings board doesn’t consist of the same people then as it does now, but as you point out, there don’t seem to be clear guidelines in such appeals.

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