— Sure, the Motion Picture Association of America is out there watching all the movies and telling you what they think. But can you really trust generic warnings about “pervasive vulgarity”? You know the answer to that one, especially if you’re one of those who think cinema’s been in a downward spiral since “The Sound of Music.”
What follows is a somewhat spoiler-filled account of the summer’s least delicate movie moments and how they really stack up next to their official rating, scored via all those symbols people use when they don’t want to type profanity. The longer the stack of symbols is, the grosser the content, with the raunchiest films listed first.
'The Hangover Part II' is raunchiest film of summer
The MPAA says: Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images
Translation: To list it all would require as much time as it takes to watch the actual film. It’s a few-holds-barred orgy of relentless profanity, casual racism, slapstick violence, male and female full-frontal-nudity, borderline consensual sex, insane amounts of drug use and monkeys smoking cigarettes. If you saw the first “Hangover” — and it seems like everyone in the world did, even people who dislike extra-raunchy comedy — then you’ve seen this one already, too.
Redeeming Qualities: None. But your reaction to that fact depends on your perspective. You either applaud the film’s refusal to slap on a fake, morality-demands-it punishment for the marauding Wolf Pack, or you freak out over this group of man-children getting off scot-free, suffering nothing resembling a real-world consequence for their outrageous behavior.
Our Rating: #$#!*%
'The Change-Up' is pretty crude
The MPAA says: Rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use.
Translation: Jason Batemen — after switching bodies with Ryan Reynolds — has a series of sexual encounters that focus on how disgusting the women are. Reynolds — after switching bodies with Batemen — tries to have sex with Bateman’s wife but learns that she’s disgusting too. Charming. Oh, and babies projectile-soil themselves and others.
Redeeming Qualities: A half-hearted attempt to teach the guys the real meaning of friendship and marriage and niceness and all that other stuff terrible movies tack on when they realize they can’t risk audiences disliking absolutely unlikable characters.
Our Rating: #$@!*
'Bridesmaids' mixes humor and raunch
The MPAA says: Rated R for some strong sexuality, and language throughout
Translation: Funny, absurdist sex scenes bookend the film and frank female discussions about sex and men pack the 124-minute running time. And then there’s that scatological bridal shop scene you’ve heard about, the one during which the MPAA must have collectively fallen asleep.
Redeeming Qualties: Intelligence, wit, warmth and the daring to address socioeconomic differences within groups of friends, something you never see in most American films, raunchy or not.
Our Rating: #$@!
'Horrible Bosses' could be feminist term paper
The MPAA says: Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material
Translation: Colin Farrell, as one of the horrible bosses, has group sex with prostitutes, while another horrible boss, played by Jennifer Aniston, is a bizarre mix of male daydream and actual rapist. She exposes herself, verbally harasses Charlie Day, sexually assaults every man within reach and, weirdly enough, receives the film’s gentlest comeuppance for her efforts. In the film’s funniest moment, a huge amount of cocaine is spilled and would-be boss-murderers Day and Jason Bateman try to vacuum it up with both a Dustbuster and their noses.
Redeeming Qualities: None offered, but it’s unintentionally worth looking at for the subtext of unrestrained male anxiety and idiotic ideas about aggressive female sexuality. Some feminist film studies student will have a field day using it as a term-paper source.
Our Rating: #$@!
'30 Minutes or Less' is pretty clean
The MPAA says: Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence
Translation: Everybody on-screen uses the F-word. It’s also pro bank-robbing. Meanwhile, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson talk a lot about sex, McBride gets a lap dance and, in one scene, commit what can only be described as a gay-mime assault on “Friday the 13th” killer Jason. They could show this on the FX cable channel late at night without any cuts and practically no bleeps.
Redeeming Qualities: None, but you won’t mind that.
Our Rating: #$
'Mr. Popper’s Penguins' can't stop pooping
The MPAA says: Rated PG for mild rude humor and some language
Translation: Penguins squirt their leavings on every possible physical surface of the set. Jim Carrey holds them up and squeezes it out of them like he’s putting condiments on a cheeseburger. Then there’s a lot more of this. And then some more. It never stops. Never.
Redeeming Qualities: It’ll cure you of thinking they’d actually make good pets.
Our Rating: #$ -- Yes, that’s one more symbol than “Friends With Benefits” got.
'Bad Teacher' isn't that bad
The MPAA says: Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Translation: Cameron Diaz talks about sex the way most women in movies are never allowed to. Cameron Diaz smokes pot in front of children. Cameron Diaz is mean to the children she’s smoking pot in front of. Cameron Diaz has clothes-on comedy-sex with Justin Timberlake. Cameron Diaz wears very short shorts.
Redeeming Qualities: Cameron Diaz learns lessons about true love. It’s annoying when she does this but there you go, a weak stab at ethical outcomes.
Our Rating: #
'Friends With Benefits' barely earns its R
The MPAA says: Rated R for sexual content and language
Translation: The tamest R rating of the summer. Justin Timberlake’s butt is on display, yet everything you think belongs to Mila Kunis is actually the property of her uncredited body double, one she barely needed in the first place. In other words, you’ll wonder how a single bed can have so many sheets on it. A woman licks Timberlake’s armpit and the script occasionally bounces some genuine R-rated words around.
Redeeming Qualities: It’s sweet, like an otherwise well-behaved dog with an occasional habit of “loving” your leg too much.
Our Rating: #