No, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day prank. It was announced last week by The Weinstein Company that a “family-friendly” version of The King’s Speech would be released into theaters today, April 1, 2011. Nobody is crying censorship, obviously, but many, including me are wondering why. Let’s be perfectly clear: The King’s Speech is an R rated movie because it uses the f-word 12 times. The rule is no more than two f-words in a PG-13 movie and not one instance of the f-word used sexually. By those standards, The King’s Speech has earned it’s R rating. But, let me be clear, in all my years of living and seeing movies, I have never seen a more “light” R rated movie than The King’s Speech. In fact, I would have zero hesitation in taking my 12 year-old daughter to this remarkable film. I don’t think her viewing it will cause her to start dropping the f-bomb on a regular basis, nor do I think the hearing of said word gives her silent permission to do so. This is why we are parents – to teach, instruct and guide – and why we have frank discussions. No matter how hard we might want to hide our children from the world, they will be exposed one way or another. Open, frank communication beats the hell out of a security blanket any day.
I wondered how our pals at Kids-in-Mind ranked The King’s Speech (they rank movies on a scale from one to 10 on sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity). Here’s what I found, along with some recent releases by comparisson:
The King’s Speech (R): 1.1.6
Sucker Punch (PG-13): 5.7.4
Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Rodrick Rules (PG): 1.3.2
Limitless (PG-13): 6.7.5
So, regardless of it’s dozen fudge words, The King’s Speech is more on par with the PG Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie than it is with recent PG-13 movies chock full of violence, sexuality and other, apparently more harmless, uses of profanity. I’m amazed that one word can carry such stigma and I’m equally amazed that The Weinstein Company went forward with this re-release, especially since the same folks refused to re-cut the NC-17 Blue Valentine to an R rating because of artistic integrity. For shame, Harvey. For shame.
In the end, I think The King’s Speech star, Colin Firth, said it best:
It serves a purpose. I’m not someone who’s casual about that kind of language. I take my children to football [soccer] games. I hate hearing that kind of language in their ears, but I won’t deny them the experience of a live game. But in the context of the film, it couldn’t be more edifying, more appropriate. It’s not vicious or insulting. It’s not in the context that might offend.
Hopefully, Utahans, smack dab in the land of Just Say No to the R, will give the movie a chance in its original presentation and come to understand that many times ratings are just letters, not set-in-stone, revealed-from-the-heavens revelations on the morality of entertainment. They are opinions and mine is this was a bad, bad move to re-release as a PG-13 film.