The PG-13 rating has really become stigmatized due to the erroneous assumption studioheads must have "watered-down" the film in order to achieve the rating.
Is that the case sometimes? Of course. Mainly in regard to remakes of R movies or premises requiring a gore-factor. Starting with Live Free or Die Hard and ending with Terminator: Salvation, there are films where the restraint is apparent and almost tangible; whether it's John McClane's inability to say his own catchphrase or Terminators being ineffectual at terminating. And come on, a guy with fucking KNIVES on his hands ought to be sort of pigeonholed into an R-Rating (Wolverine).
HOWEVER, I think the application of this cynicism in regard to a movie like Drag Me to Hell is a tad hasty and presumptuous. Admittedly, I'm being presumptuous as well since I haven't seen DMtH yet. Anyway, how reliant is horror, especially a horror-comedy in the vain of Evil Dead (which I feel could have easily been PG-13 despite the gore), on violence and swearing? Does seeing a girl get impaled or ripped into two really register as fearful for the audience more than suspense does? Is horror incomplete without titties?
I simply feel more can be done with atmosphere and SUBTEXT than gratuity and even visuality (as paradoxical as that may seem for a movie). I loathe using this example since I think TDK is vastly overrated and talked about far too often but was the "Why so serious?" scene ruined because we didn't see Gambol's throat actually be slit? I'll be smug and rhetorical and assume the answer is "No", and that's a clearly visible example of the PG-13 rating impeding upon and restricting a film.
The perfect example of the flaw of this mindset is Watchmen. With the exception of the ending from the GN (which was replaced with a much tamer version, anyway) and Dr. Manhattan (whose dick they could have made made much less glaring while still getting across that he was naked ) there was NO reason it couldn't have been PG-13. Every gore-shot was juvenile and gratuitous and the sex scene turned a two-panel scene with shading obscuring the "good bits" into two minutes of bargain bin, softcore porn.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that a PG-13 rating doesn't necessarily imply tameness anymore than an R-rating signifies maturity or adult writing (it doesn't.)
Plus, to add to your point, there are really two kinds of pg-13 ratings jumping around right now. There's the pg-13 rating that kids younger then 13 are allowed by there parents to see and its no big deal. Then there's the Dark Knight kid of pg-13 rating where letting kids below 13 into that would just be leading up to nightmares for th next week.
Although, I when I saw Watchmen a women brought her kids and a few of their friends to see the movie so . . . ratings can only do so much I suppose . . .
Agreed, completely. I hate the idea of a director or writter tayloring what they creat to fit a specific rating. I mean, look at "The Passion of the Christ". Mel Gibson didnt give a flying fuck about anything other than the story he wanted to tell and it turned out to be ridiculously successful. Granted, I thought it was a 2 hour snuff film, but it clearly touched a lot of people.
A PG-13 rating isn't necessarilly a bad thing. Some of the best movies that have come out over the last decade have been PG-13. But there are some movies where gratuitous violence, sex/nudity, and foul language are not only appreciated but necessary to the whole context of the film. Up until the fourth film, the Die Hard series was always targetted at an adult demographic for its over-the-top violence and explicit language, and the original cut of Live Free or Die Hard was a bloody film with some nasty language in it (not as much as the previous films). And what happens when they finish the film? Tom Rothman has the editors remove the blood spatters and dub over the foul language so that the parents can bring their kids to see it with them.
On a side note, Drag Me to Hell does look pretty good, and so far has gotten good reviews.
the problem is the under13 crowd is a huge audience to exclude. sometimes its a matter of dropping 1 or 2 f bombs in exchange for bringing in an extra 50 million dollars. you might be willing to tweak your vision too if that was the case.
i would imagine some studios won't even let you make a movie unless you can guarantee them that huge target audience. sucks but hey money's money.
absolutely agree, watchmen gained nothing from that R-rating, with the exception that i think Rorshach's dialogue would have been pretty watered down, however he kind of was watered down in the film that came out.
also nearly all the good classic horror movies before the eighties would probably catch a pg-13 rating today but that doesn't take away from the quality of the film. It seems like the effects have become the star of the show today, but there was a time where you couldn't make realistic gore so you had to rely on suspense and good writing. That ain't the case today. Now you can see jigsaw's victims get lit on fire and cut apart and slowly die, so there is no reason to have good writing, i guess.