Can parents rely on MPAA's R or PG-13 ratings as a guide whether to let their kids watch a movie?
No, according to David Chen of More Than Fine blog. He picked 5 movies released in 2007 to illustrate how the MPAA movie rating system is broken. Take, for instance, the gory animated movie Beowulf:
What it was rated: PG-13
What it should have been rated: R
Comments: Despite being animated, this movie features an Angelina Jolie that’s basically naked, a hideous monster that murders - often brutally - dozens of townspeople (for example, he tore one in two and chewed off another one's head, slowly), several impalings, a graphic dislocation of an arm, a graphic severing of an arm, and lots of gore in the slaying of the monsters featured. One character's family is burned alive, although this is only implied off screen. I went to see it in IMAX 3d (a great experience, by any stretch of the imagination) but was disappointed to find out that several families had brought infants in with them to see the film. As I saw Grendel's horrific visage barrel onto the screen, a prelude to his murderous rampage, I myself was on the edge of my seat and just a little frightened. I can't imagine the mental scars that these kids in the audience would have to bear. Beowulf 3D is what little kids' nightmares are made of.