The Awakening: R Rated Movies

My first change is subtle and nuanced, but the decision to alter my thinking regarding the type of media I watch is a change I’m looking forward to. To understand the change that has happened, reading this post on my media standards is essential. In short, I’ve decided to watch my first R-rated movie. (I have watched “clean” version of R rated films like Amelie, Memento, Man on Fire, but those are difficult to find because movie studios have said they don’t want people editing the films to clean them up.)

I was reading through the things I wrote previously, and when I say out loud that I’ve decided to watch R-rated movies now it sounds much more dramatic than it is. My standards for violence, profanity, and sexuality haven’t changed all that much. What is dramatic is that I’ve decided not to worry about what is said in the Strength of Youth pamphlet when I choose what to watch. Previously, I read what was said about movies (or other things in that pamphlet) and made my list of what I should or shouldn’t do, and that was it. Now, I make my own list.

You know what I’ve always wanted to watch? Schindler’s List. But I never did because it was rated R, and I wanted to hold on to the statement that I had never seen a rated R movie. Not because I thought it made me “better” in some Mormon sense, but because I wanted to be able to tell my kids that I had done it, and they could to. Now I guess I will tell them that I’d like them to follow my example through high school, and that I think they will likely be better off for it, but once they are in college and developing their critical thinking skills it’s up to them.

I think if I were to write out my new media standard now, it would be that I want to try to focus my media consumption on things that I feel broaden my worldview in some way. I’ll probably apply this most stringently to movies, though I’d like to take a closer look at the tv shows I watch while I cook because time spent watching Drop Dead Diva could be spent watching Ted talks (Biggest Loser will always be on my playlist though, because I’m such a sucker for these personal stories of triumph, no matter how short-lived they may be). I want to go through the DVDs I own and get rid of those that don’t fit with my goals (maybe I’ll do a big giveaway and send them off to you guys? :) ), and when a movie comes out instead of immediately searching the Rotten Tomatoes page for the MPAA rating I want to look at the synopsis and the number of critics who liked it and think about what the movie means and how it could make me think.

I’m still going to keep using the site Kids In Mind, because I’m worried about desensitization. I like that I don’t swear, and I think it would be easy for me to start slipping and doing so when angry, frustrated, or surprised if I was consuming a lot of media that used such language frequently. And that’s certainly not the type of sounds I want filling my son’s sweet little ears. I don’t really want to a lot of nudity, frankly because I like that those things stay out of my head when I’m being intimate with my husband. I don’t want images of unrealistic, jealousy-inducing bodies popping up in my head during those times. Violence has always been the area where I am the most lenient because of the ways it does (/not) affect me, and will continue to be so, largely because I don’t have any intention of watching movies that are violent in an attempt to celebrate violence (a la horror films). I’m thinking more along the lines of Saving Private Ryan (I realize that’s the second Spielberg movie I’ve named in this post, I think it’s because these are movies I’ve been intrigued by for a long time, hearing my friends talk about them when I was a teenager, but have never allowed myself to watch), a movie which, based on the synopsis, may will help me think about war and move closer to understanding what war is and how it affects those who fight.

As for some of the things I named in my previous post, pornography is still out (for the reasons mentioned above). Same standards for music. Interestingly, we ordered some Friends DVDs via Netflix, and I just couldn’t get excited about watching them. I think I loved that series so much because of the way I shared it with my college girlfriends. Now, I love 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation because I watch them with That Husband.

I actually have a fun request for you. Now that I’ve opened myself up to new possibilities, what do you think I should watch? I’m still kind of puzzling through exactly what do and don’t want to watch, I think it will be a process that ebbs and flows over time. Currently on my list are:

Schindler’s List
Passion of the Christ
Taxi to the Dark Side
United 93

I opened up The Sweet Hereafter and Ides of March from Netflix this morning, though I’m still not sure what I think about the latter as it is really profanity-laden. We’ve considered a ClearPlay player to allow us to eliminate the profanity from movies like Ides of March if we wanted, but I’m not sure what we’ll do yet.


324 thoughts on “The Awakening: R Rated Movies

  1. Hi, I think it is so great you are willing to be more open as films can be so educational and thought provoking. I am a bit of a film buff and it is hobby I share with my husband. I am sure you will get lots of suggestions, so I will give just one,
    Children of Men.
    It blew my mind and really made me think about our society and where it was headed as a whole.
    Highly, higly recommened!!

    Brooke Reply:

    Oooh, I really enjoyed that one as well! Very thought provoking.

    Errign Reply:

    Yes, that movie is excellent!

    Rachel Reply:

    Yep – Children of Men will change your life. Excellent movie!

  2. Pan’s Labyrinth. I *loved* that movie.

    Grace Reply:

    Pan’s Labyrinth is really beautiful. I found the violence (especially the torture) too much to take personally, but I agree it’s very well done.

    Sophia Reply:

    Yes, I definitely had to look away during those scenes!

    phruphru Reply:

    Pan’s Labrynth scared the crap out of me but it was definitely a beautifully done film.

    Jen Allyson Reply:

    I love PL too! I couldn’t watch some of the scenes either, but It didn’t take away from the movie at all. I’m used to closing my eyes occasionally during movies anyway.

    I also loved Inglorious Basterds – though not quite in the same genre – but I did have to close my eyes a few times. Terantino is one of the best story tellers out there.

    Liz Reply:

    Well, yeah, but if there was ever a man to glorify violence it’s Tarantino.

  3. I love The Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile! Watch those, they are both great!

    I am not very religious, but I do not watch any old R rated movie. I only watch things that interest me. I also do not like very violent films like horror movies, but movies like Saving private Ryan are great films.

    Oh, one more movie. Watch Forrest Gump if you have not seen it!

    Teale Reply:

    I second all of these! And the books–The Green Mile is one of my favorite books (and a Stephen King one, at that!)

    Jessica Reply:

    Those are two of my favorites :)

    Jackie Reply:

    Green Mile is great!

    Hannah Reply:

    Forrest Gump is one of my favorite movies! I show it to my high school students at the end of the year to review all of the events in recent history that we talked about. However, I do have to skip over some scenes in the film which you would probably want to skip over as well (i.e. Forrest at Jenny’s college and New Year’s Eve). Other than that, the profanity isn’t all that bad.

    Rebekah Reply:

    Shawshank is a must! It’s worth buying and watching every few years.

    Nodakademic Reply:

    Yes to all of these. Especially Forrest. I’ve seen it literally 100s of times. Probably my favorite movie ever.

    Erin J Reply:

    Forrest Gump isn’t rated R. My parents took me & my sister to see it when we were like 10 & 11 :)

    Nodakademic Reply:

    You know, I didn’t think it was! (My mom let me watch it as a young teen, and she generally would not do that if something was rated R.) But others here mentioned it, so I figured perhaps i was wrong!

  4. Children of Men is amazing! I would also recommend the documentary “dear zachary: a letter to a son about his father” there are some F words, but I forgive it because they interview parents who’s son was murdered. It is fascinating, really. 127 Hours is also a good one. I don’t think e language was all that bad, and the gore wasn’t either. They cut away from the incident at good moments, I think. It is such a life affirming movie and made me SO grateful for what I have. Changed the way I prayed, for sure! I am much more thankful now.

    I just watched the Ides of March. Rather pleased with it, actually. I didn’t think the F words were too much, but I have been watching R rated movies for years, so maybe I am desensitized. ;) I don’t think is has more than the average R rated film, though. The HBO movie Recount is also a good one, although I can’t remember how bad the language is. Even if though we all know the ending, it is still interesting.

    I used to have the same standards as you, but changed my tune in college. I don’t really agree with the R rated movie “thing,” especially when we are a worldwide church and some countries do not have the same rating systems. What is R here is 14+ in Canada and so on. I think at I would show SPR to my junior, after they had studied WWII that year.

    Anyway, what is come down to is that I don’t think that an organization like the MPAA should hold sway over my choices to that extent, so I make my own list of what I will, and won’t watch.

    Katy Reply:

    “Dear Zachary” KILLED me. I did not see that end coming. But it was a well done and very moving. As I’ve said in my comment, as an LDS person I generally stay away from R rated films – it’s a good guidline to follow on it’s head – but you’re totally right about how different rating systems are here vs. other countries. Are we more righteous than our worldwide brothers/sisters in the church because we stay away from them more here in the U.S.? Of course not.

    Regardless of rating and where you live, we simply need to do right by our own personal testimony and what standards we want to follow for our entertainment (and not yield total control to an organization’s arbitrary ideas).

    Katy Reply:

    (…and by organization I mean the MPAA):)

    Julia Reply:

    OMG the end of Dear Zachary?!?!?! I was BAWLING. But I still recommend it to EVERYONE.

    Michelle Reply:

    I actually tell people NOT to watch Dear Zachary. I wish I could clear it from my mind. I was a disaster the entire night and for days after watching it. Wrecked completely. It is really well done but it takes such a horrible turn that I can’t imagine someone willfully watching it. I would hate to tell someone to watch it only to have them tell me, “I couldn’t sleep for weeks!!!”

    Julia Reply:

    I think that people need I see it for the informative side of it. The fact that she ran so easily and there was nothing further the families could do? Yes it’s gut wrenching and horrible, but eye opening as well. And of course I don’t recommend it without fair warning!

    Paula Reply:

    Ha! I always tell people… You need to watch Dear Zachary… It will desttroy you, in a good way. Just watch the Muppets or something afterwards and you”ll be okay. The “life’s a happy song” number would cheer anyone up!

    Emmie Reply:

    Dear Zachary….I don’t think I have ever cried so hard at a movie in my entire life.

  5. I like your take on this. 2 of my favorite movies are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Mr. Nobody.
    I’m excited to read everyone else’s suggestions.

  6. Choosing good entertainment that entertains and/or enriches your life is less about following a specific mandate – letter-of-the-law – and more about evaluating the intent of the content and the benefit vs. harm (as you percieve it) – the spirit-of-the-law.

    For us LDS people – if we do choose to stay away from R rated movies altogether because we want to adhere to the guidline and avoid content we don’t agree with – can’t then shut off our minds and think that anything with a lower rating is perfectly acceptable. There are plenty of lower rated movies and television that is just as filled with gratiutious content and that isn’t exactly faith-promoting.

    It’s always felt hypocritical to me when people avoid R ratings, but have no problem seeing a movie that probably *should* have been R rated. It seems more spiritually and intellectually honest to be the kind of person that does occasionally see an R rated movie, but judges that movie and all others regardless of rating on the same scale based on their level of acceptance of certain storytelling usage (sex, violence, swearing, drug use, etc). Which – by the way – I put myself in that category of being somewhat hypocritical! :)

    However, Jenna is one of the few people I’ve know that both before and after her decisions regarding R movies has been in my mind consistent. When she didn’t want to see any R rated before, she was also very selective about other entertainment as well. Even now that she’s decided it’s okay to see an R film on a case-by-case basis, that selectivity doesn’t seem to have changed.

    Katy Reply:

    I do want to be clear that if any (including fellow LDS people of course) want to stay away completely away from R-rated films, that’s great. At the end of the day, we are just talking about movies here..not matters of life and death. :)

    And while I have seen the occasional R-rated film in my life and don’t feel horrible for it, I still habitually stay away from them for the most part. Most films we enjoy (my husband’s FAVORITES are Godfather 1 & 2 and Shawshank Redemption – seen those a trillion times) we first saw and many just watch on TV. We normally don’t encounter any R movies that we wanted to see so bad that we couldn’t wait until it comes on TV anyway.

    sam Reply:

    Yeah, just matters of spiritual death. Nothing big.

    Gwendolyn Reply:

    I agree with Katy, it’s a case by case thing: I’ve rented movies that were PG-13 and turned out to be way more inappropriate (I’m talking full frontal nudity, graphic torture, and extremely violent deaths) because they came out before the R-rating was instituted and nothing in the description implied I would have to fast-forward through 30% of the movie.
    Ever seen DragonSlayer? Don’t, it’s kinda gross.

    I do try to stay away from R-rated films as a habit, and violent PG-13 films also. My personal standard is the level of gore and whether the antagonist is human. My brain is ok if something is fantasy violence (for example: The Lord of the Rings…violent but classic and fantasy) but I can’t watch something like Silence of the Lambs (cannibalism!) without my night terrors and anxiety kicking me in the head.

    Just to be clear I’ve seen the Patriot, Hotel Rwanda, Saving Private Ryan, and Braveheart, and sobbed through most of each of them, but it opened my mind to the violence that is hatred and war.

    And my husband loves horror movies but I can’t watch most of them: I can handle werewolves, vampires, or aliens. Zombies are difficult (I actually punched my husband in the nose when he startled me with a zombie moan and a playful grab…who punches a zombie?). And I refuse to watch movies with serial killers or ghosts/demons/witches.

    Gwendolyn Reply:

    Oh! And I’m not saying there aren’t movies I wish I’d never seen (DragonSlayer!) and some movies I want to see but I’m nervous about the violence. Shawshank Redemption for example.

    And even if they’re classic movies I want them to see, my children will NOT be watching them until they are at least 16 (I saw Patriot at 13 and it was a bit much; also someone brought their 3 little children -ages 5 to 10- to the theater when I was seeing Lord of the Rings and they were screaming through most of it because of the Orcs and the fighting).
    So yes I’ll be a bit hypocritical but I want them not to be desensitized.

    Jenna, way to go for being a critical thinker about these things! And keep monitoring the language…trust me that will creep in if you’re not very careful.
    My parents had one of those DVD players that let you beep out the language and set up children’s limits (if you watched something over a rating then it required a passcode…good for today’s kids who can use the tv and computer before preschool)…if you think that T1 can put in a DVD buy it…it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

    Jenna Reply:

    Than you Katie, this is very kind. I do try to be deliberate in my choices.

  7. Watch Saving Private Ryan for sure. It is a wonderful example of everything a great movie should be. Raw, real, intense and emotionally moving.

    I agree with those above that recommend Shawshank Redemption as well. I only saw it two years ago (my husband was stunned that I had never watched it) and I thought it was an excellent movie.

    Though many forms of entertainment are over the top in the way they use language, nudity and violence, I look at some of these movies differently upon viewing them because they make an impact on my life. Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies ever. I just love the message and the story is so beautifully told. The language is a bit rough but it is being used as a part of the characters lives and not so much for the sake of being crude.

  8. Don’t bother with Ides of March. My husband and I went to see it and I found it deeply disturbing, and not in a good, critical thinking kind of way. It’s very disturbing, both sexually and morally. I walked away from it and I desperately wished I’d never seen it. The use of profanity in it is also gratuitous and really kind of disgusting.

    Have you seen Braveheart or is that rated R? Because that one is excellent and I also would say you should definitely watch Shawshank.

    Jen Allyson Reply:

    Braveheart is an amazing movie. Very heart-wrenching. Speaking of epic movies – I finally saw Legends of the Fall and I could not believe I had never seen it before. Such an epic film. There is a gratuitous sex scene (pertinent to the plot) that I recommend you fast forward through, but really it is worth a watch. I just sat and balled when I watched it. After seeing it, I also understood why so many women like Brad Pitt

  9. Shawshank Redemption was the very first movie that came to mind. Seriously, it’s amazing.

  10. I’d recommend ‘The Thin Red Line’ by Terrence Malick. I loved this movie, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not plot driven and is instead a meditative take on the the nature of war and human nature itself. It’s beautifully shot, so you might enjoy it for that alone, since you’re a photographer.

    ‘A Very Long Engagement’ is a beautiful movie, by the director of Amelie and also starring Audrey Tautou. It’s a love story, mystery and war movie all rolled into one. Honestly, it’s one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a while. You didn’t say if you’re opposed to movies with sub-titles, but since this is a french movie, sub-titles would be needed.

    Don’t forget about classics like ‘The Godfather’!

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Yes! The Godfather is incredibly. Definitely mine the AFI Top 100 films list. There are so many wonderful movies there.

    Danielle Reply:

    Those recs are excellent. Terrence Malick is an incredible director. Jeunet is great as well (director of A very long engagement).

  11. I’m excited to hear your experiences watching some new movies. I’ve been watching R-rated things since I was 3 years old, so I’m pretty desensitized these days. The movie has to be extremely dark to shake me. (But those are my favorite kinds of movies!)

    Nodakademic Reply:

    Haha, me too Rachel. Me too.

  12. I could say a bunch of things but it basically boils down to this: THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. I agree with Katy above, who talked about the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. Watching some guy do cringe-worthy stuff with baked goods in American Pie is a completely different viewing experience from watching Brokeback Mountain, which will make you think (and make you cry). Maybe Brokeback Mountain isn’t quite what you had in mind but you get the idea. As for other film suggestions, take a look at what’s won best picture for the past few years. You have a lot of catching up to do! :)

    Lydia Reply:

    Brokeback Mountain is seriously one of my favorite movies. I hate that there are so many tasteless jokes about such a beautiful love story.

    phruphru Reply:

    THANK YOU. Exactly. It’s a love story. My husband even cried during it.

    Rachel Reply:

    Agreed! Brokeback Mountain is an incredible, beautiful story.

  13. Some of my favorite R movies – Gladiator, The Kings Speech, Braveheart, The Pianist, The Green Mile, The Patriot, A Few Good Men, Saving Private Ryan, Jerry Maguire

    I actually don’t think I’ve seen Schindler’s List all the way through OR Shawshank Redemption.

    Kat Reply:

    Goodness me the King’s Speech is rated R in the US? I assume R is for restricted? What age is that restricted to?

    I LOVED the King’s Speech. I guess the R is for the language, but it’s all in a therapeutic setting (he doesn’t stutter when swearing).

    I’d also add, obviously everyone is different, but I haven’t found at all that watching/hearing bad language makes me use it. The type of language I use changes based on who I’m with but the use of any “bad” words has never been so much of a habit that I can’t control where I use it (I never swear in front of children or at work for example).

    Erin J Reply:

    Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous! R is restricted to ages 17 & up.

    I am also not one that uses bad language, except in the case of this morning when someone almost rear-ended me! :)

    kayakgirl73 Reply:

    This a great movie about overcoming a disability. I loved it.

    Logan Reply:

    ‘The Kings Speech’ is AMAZING.

    Hannah Reply:

    I too loved The Kings Speech. And I agree with Kat – yes there is a lot of profanity, but it wasn’t truly directed at anyone or used in a mean/hurtful way. As Kat said, he used it as part of his speech therapy. But then again, I watch movies with profanity in them more often than not, so maybe I don’t notice it as much.

  14. The Fall. I just watched it about a month ago.
    A beautiful-in-every-way movie.

    Katy Reply:

    YES!!!!!!!! I have yet to talk to someone that has seen that movie!!! Seriously, that just made my day.

    I really, really enjoyed that movie. It was a bit different, such visually stimulating scenery(added by Lee Pace…I admit I’m a fan of him;), and a wonderful, interesting story. Is that little Romanian girl not the best little actress? It’s like she not even acting. Loved her.

    Seeing as I normally don’t see R rated films I was fascinated as I watched it and found that I had no idea why it was really rated R. There is some violence, but it didn’t strike me at all as anything more intense than your typical PG13. The only thing I can think of is because of the theme involving death and manipulation.

    But I loved it. Always reccommend it to people that enjoy a movie that is just a tad different, but still relatable and enjoyable to watch.

    Erin J Reply:

    I have never heard of this movie, but I loved Lee Pace when he was on Pushing Daisies so I am going to add it to my movie list! :)

    Katy Reply:

    Lee Pace will also have a small(ish) role in the last Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2. I know this because I’m one of “those” people

    My name is Katy and I’m a huge, (somewhat) unabashed Twilight fan. The side of me that never aged past 16 rears it’s head sometimes thanks to these books. I’m quite excited to see Rob *and* Lee Pace in one movie. That will be a nice little treat for the eyes. :)

  15. Have you seen The Notebook? It’s an incredibly romantic movie about true love. I cried my eyes out the first time I saw it. Please see it! It’s soooo good. There is one (very short)love making scene (you can’t really see anything, but it is suggested).

  16. Some of my very favorite thought-provoking movies (not sure about their ratings one way or the other):
    –The Seven Samurai (Japanese action movie by the great director Kurosawa; incredibly entertaining and has some profound things to say about duty, social class and the role of violence)
    –City of God (2002 Brazilian movie about gang wars and the growth of organized crimes in the favelas: really interesting and authentic; only one professional actor in the cast, the rest were from favelas)
    –Day of Wrath, Danish (1943 Danish drama about sin (of the sexual variety and otherwise), witchcraft and religious persecution. Mentally intense but fascinating.)
    –Alien and Aliens (probably the best science fiction movies I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Not for the faint-hearted, but they have a lot of interesting things to say about femininity, among other topics)

    The Shawshank Redemption is pretty good too (a little sentimental for my taste). So are Saving Private Ryan and Schlinder’s List, actually: Spielberg is a great filmmaker, but also very cheesy.

    I liked Brokeback Mountain a lot, but it does have a couple sex scenes (they are not very erotic though). Really interesting depiction of the costs of being closeted (and beautifully shot).

    Lea Reply:

    City of God is a good movie. But forewarned: there is A LOT of violence in it, including violence against children, and it is incredibly tough to watch.

    Kristin Reply:

    A good front runner to City of God is a documentary called Noticias de uma guerra particular (in English it’s called News from a personal war). City of God is hard to watch for many reasons, but Noticias does an excellent job of looking at all aspects of the drug problem in Rio, something that City of God doesn’t fully address. As for the violence against children it is horrific to watch, but sadly a reality. There are many academic papers which deal with the Criancas de Rua (Street Children) and the social disconnect they face, which often leads to violence against them sometimes resulting in death. Jenna I applaud your take on things, I came to this same realization years ago and have seen many eye-opening films because of it!

    phruphru Reply:

    Children of God is bone chilling but you’re right, Kristin, it’s probably all too familiar a reality for street children. I’m going to add that documentary to my list. Speaking of street children, another recommend is Children Underground It’s about children living in a train station in Romania. I watched it several years ago and still think about it and shudder at some of the scenes.

  17. The King’s Speech was a lovely film. Saving Private Ryan is good, however you might consider watching Band of Brothers….it is fantastic. Also, they often air it as a marathon on AMC and other cable channels, I think with the profanity eliminated. But excellent from a historical perspective and understanding war.

  18. I read an interesting comment from the SixSeeds magazine regarding Christians watching media:

    “When you watch a movie, take in a TV show, or listen to a song, you are not condoning, assenting, agreeing, or endorsing. You are listening.”

    – Rebecca Cusey of TinselTalk at Patheos, in her latest piece on Christians and entertainment

    I think this is a healthy opinion. It’s easy to get caught up in an isolated bubble. You can learn a lot of things from unconventional places. I had a great conversation with my husband over manipulative, controlling relationships after watching Paranormal Activity.

    I’d recommend Life as a House. There’s no nudity (though there is sex, you just don’t have to see the details), minimal cussing, and overall it’s a beautiful film. It’s about a father who finds out his cancer is terminal, and his decision to spend his last summer building his dream house with his disaffected teenage son. So beautiful and moving. You will cry, I guarantee it!

    Jenna Reply:

    This is a really lovely sentiment, thanks for sharing. I also have had some really engaging conversations with my husband due to reading/viewing/listening to unconventional things.

  19. I’ll second the Life as a House recommendation (the sex scenes are minimal).

    And I’ll be the 18th person to endorse Shawshank. :)

    If you want to open your mind to world views (while seeing a well made movie) I highly recommend Hotel Rwanda (hmm… was that R or just pg13? Not sure.

    With regards to the swearing, I might start out more lenient with that (because I think we get that from people, not from movies), and if you drop something and then swear – no more swearing movies! But I think you might miss out on some really poignant moments of good movies if you either skip the movie or get a editing device.

    Rachel Reply:

    I have to say, I didn’t think that hearing swears in movies/TV affected my own speech, until I started watching Dexter. LOVE that show, but Deb (his sister) swears so much, I found myself swearing more, too!

  20. I have a very similar standard as you do. I don’t care about the rating – I won’t watch many PG-13 movies if I don’t think they have any redemptive qualities. But a movie like Braveheart, which is full of war violence, is so inspiring and tells such a story of sacrifice and redemption, is on my list of favorites.

    You are right about what you said regarding violence, though – I can’t stand movies that glorify it (horror) or use it gratuitously (i.e. Wanted, Drive).

  21. same here – we watch movies based on the content. If we mis-judge, we turn it off and are more careful the next time. That’s not for everyone of course (Mormon-wise) but it works for us.

    In fact, we just had a discussion about that very same thing after watching The Kind’s Speech the other night. It was such a delightful, well-done movie and I was sad it had a rating that would keep some from watching it. The rating was R because of two little scenes where they say “F…” a few times. And the way that use it is actually funny, not crude, if there is such a thing.

    Anyway… I definitely recommend that movie – it’s heartwarming and I think you’d enjoy it.

  22. ps -after reading other’s comments, I wanted to agree with the Shawshank recommendation but add a caviat: it’s about prison life (in the 30s I believe) so it’s not touchy feely, it’s more hard core, but it’s an excellent movie. Just know that going into it. The Green Mile is also an excellent movie – thoroughly enjoyed that one. The Gladiator – hands down, incredible movie and Russell Crowe was awesome. A Few Good Men – lots of language in parts but a brilliant classic (you can catch that on TV a lot so you can get the watered down version if you prefer). I’m sure there are others and they’ll come to me later. :)

  23. Master and Commander!! It’s just a great movie all around. The historical details are excellent if you are into that :)
    Well I just looked and it’s PG-13, so you might already have seen it. If not, do!

  24. I still have a policy of no rated R movies and apply judgement when it comes to other ratings. I think there are very few “life-changing” movies out there that are rated R that I am missing out on. I have made the exception three times: Billy Elliot (swearing scene), I capture the castle (brief front nude scene of woman), and The King’s Speech (swearing scene). All of these viewings came after the suggestions of friends who knew what my standards were. All of them were rating R ONLY for those mentioned scenes which were easy enough to block out or fast forward. Other movies I have caught once they were on TV. I think you just need to come to a decision as a family what you feel good about, which is what you are working on.

    Erin J Reply:

    They did release a PG-13 version of the King’s Speech in theaters, but I do not know if they actually released that version on DVD, but the swearing scene is one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

  25. This is going to sound like I have a thing for Mel Gibson, but I just absolutely love these movies. The Patriot and We Were Soldiers.

    Paula Reply:

    We were soldiers is amazing! I love that they focus on the wives at home, as well. My father in law only watched it once, though… It was so real that it gave him flashbacks in the middle of the night!

    Meghan Reply:

    It’s so good. It’s been one of my favorites for years.

  26. The part that I dislike is (being LDS) is that you have said “not to worry about what is said in the Strength of Youth pamphlet.” If you are in Young Womens and your kids ask you about this, how do you rationalize given that the Strength of Youth pamphlet is considered a “work” of the church? Do you tell them to pick and choose what they want to follow and where do you draw the line?

    Jenna Reply:

    If that ever happens (I would love to be in YW for sure) I would work to respect what parents want for their own children. I can raise my own children how I please.

    Tiffany Reply:

    I don’t think we can live a double standard. if we are asked to teach the youth of our church as in YW we need to be living the exact same standards. Heavenly Father didn’t get baptized because he needed to, he did it to e an example to us. don’t you think we should be the example for the youth of our church? And i know it doesn’t say specifically rated R movies. BUT movies get that rating because of violence, sexuality, and language. all of which we are asked not to partake of.

    Tiffany Reply:

    p.s. oops i meant to write Christ getting baptized not Heavenly Father.

    Sharon Reply:

    The primary reason I don’t go to R-rated movies is to set an example for my kids. They choose what they want when they are adults, but I have to set a standard somewhere. That goes for other ratings as well. (I’m pretty picky.) For me, it’s important to take a stand on some things that are just not within my tolerance level.

    I did see Schindler’s List when it was presented on TV, and if my kids were old enough to handle the subject matter at the time, I would have let them watch it also. Also, I’m more sensitive to seriously bad language or sex than I am to violence.

  27. Do you watch a lot of documentaries? I would recommend those for you. Obviously most are liberal leaning, but I think they are still very informative!

    Jenna Reply:

    I *love* documentaries. Documentaries and non-fiction books are my favorites. :) Now I’m branching out into some NR stuff that I might have avoided before.

    Two recent favorites are Pray the Devil Back to Hell and Inside North Korea. If you haven’t seen them, do!

    Kristin Reply:

    I loved Pray the Devil Back to Hell! I watched it at a screening that was held as part of the Womens Studies group at BYU, it is a wonderful documentary! There is another that deals with genocide/civil war called The Devil Came on Horseback regarding Darfur. I have been watching it slowly in pieces because it affects me so much, it is eye opening but a difficult one to sit through.

  28. I don’t think there is any rated R movie out there that is going to be that educational that you have to go against what the prophet has asked us to do. You can educate yourself in others ways then movies. I hope people understand that he LDS standard is black and white on this. Our prophet, that we have sustained and that we whole heartedly believe to be God’s mouthpiece here on earth (and if you didn’t believe that you wouldn’t be a part of the LDS church) has plain and simply asked us to not watch rated R movies and use our best judgement and dissernement on other rated movies. because yes even pg-13 movies should not be watched. sometimes we are asked to do things just to be tested in seeing if we are willing to obey.

    Sophia Reply:

    “sometimes we are asked to do things just to be tested in seeing if we are willing to obey.” I really, really disagree with this notion of God. That he sets up expectations as little ways of almost tricking us- “hey guys, this isn’t even important, really, I’m just saying it to see if you’ll do what I say- kinda petty, yeah, but I’m God, so you do what I say or else!”

    I just find that to be a terribly narrow view of the way the creator of the universe, and all human life, would behave in relation to his children whom he supposedly loves. It seems so childish to me, a needless display of authority “just because I can.”

    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    But isn’t Lisa saying (regardless of the statement you don’t agree with) that the Prophet, a person the LDS are supposed to view as the mouth piece of God, has said not to watch Rated R movies. So they shouldn’t do it? Period.

    Tiffany Reply:

    Yes Meg the prophet has asked us very specifically not to see Rated R movies. And if God can’t trust us in obeying the small things, then what can he trust us with? If we aren’t listening to what our Heavenly Father wants us to hear then we are removing ourselves and getting farther and farther away from his spirit. it’s like you can only invite someone to do something with you until you no longer want to invite because they always so no. I’m not saying heavenly father will remove the holy ghost completely but the Holy Ghost will no longer be our CONSTANT companions in guiding us to the right thing if we aren’t willing to listen. Maybe this doesn’t make sense…? also I’m not saying Heavenly Father does things just because he can, but he wants us to obey and this life is a life to be tested and a chance to see if we will obey even when we may not understand the meaning behind it. so maybe we don’t always understand why we can’t watch rated R movies but sometimes it is ok not to understand everything right now. that is where faith comes in and we simply do it because we were asked to do but a person we believe to be ordained of god. We believe our Prophet speaks what God wants us to hear.

    p.s. sorry I used Heavenly Father and God interchangeably, they are the same person. In the LDS church we refer to God as our Heavenly Father. and the spirit as the Holy Ghost.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Like others, I’d definitely like to see your citation on this one. It is no longer even a church standard.

    Hailey Reply:

    I agree with you in theory, if God commands something specific, it needs to be obeyed… but I don’t believe God commanded us to not watch movies that are rated R in a country that frankly has an imperfect ratings system (no country does). Firstly, because I havent heard anyone in authority say so, and besides that, it doesn’t make sense that our righteousness would depend on what a secular board decides in terms of what to rate each movie, and I certainly don’t believe God would be fine with me watching a crude teen movie that managed a PG rating, because the higher law was to not watch R rated movies.

    Paula Reply:

    Agreed! You made a good point about a “secular board”.

    Hailey Reply:

    Thanks :) I think it is silly for an American to put their moral media consumptions into the hands of their own regulatory board, let alone for a foreigner who places no confidence in another country’s government to put any stock in their ratings!

    Danielle Reply:

    Amen, to that Sophia.

    Hailey Reply:

    Could you clarify which prophet and where in some form of canonised text it says no R rated movies? I know this is a big thing in the US, but the church has a huge international membership and do you think anyone preaches about avoiding R rated movies outside the US? Of course not. We keep ourselves morally clean by knowing what is right and wrong to view and we use our noggins to make judgement. I have to laugh and roll my eyes anytime someone freaks out about R rated movies as absolute doctrine because here in Australia, there are two ratings between PG and R. I have to use my own judgement and sometimes ill deem a movie appropriate to watch which turns out to be rated R in the US. The one time I ever heard someone specifically mention R rated movies in church, I laughed, because here, an R rated movie is usually no less than a slasher porno chainsaw massacre, so its like, duh, of course a Mormon wouldn’t see that in good conscience. So really… I think the R rated thing in the church is (pardon the pun) very overrated, probably pushing it in terms of whether it is actual ‘doctrine’, and really not the spiritual life and death matter some make it out to be.

    Paula Reply:

    I agree. I think there was one quote from Benson that everyone “goes to” from his talk in April conference of 1986. My husband and I have said that the second it is part of a temple recommend interview and it is official “policy,” so to speak (like drinking alcohol, smoking, etc.), we will stop. There are specifics commandments, then there are things that are left up to us, and we decide together what is appropraite, what we can learn from, etc.

    For example, The Word of Wisdom says a lot about what we should do, in addition to what we shouldn’t. However, eating meat everyday for two meals a day (as an example) isn’t really going to keep someone from the temple, at least not that I know of. Same thing with keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. We have to decide what is acceptable for our family on Sundays through the guidance of the Spirit. I think entertainment is the similar.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Oh, rats! Maybe it’s the Benson one that I’m thinking of.

    Hailey Reply:

    Definitely. We certainly have a tendency within the church to fill in any blanks with speculation, and eventually it can be confused with actual doctrine.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Yeah, I’m sorry. I’ve had this argument with my mother-in-law multiple times. The only place she could ever find a prophet saying it was President Kimball to the young men in 1985. It has become more of a cultural movement than anything else to choose not to watch R-rated movies. In fact, the new ‘For the Strength of Youth’ manual no longer contains the wording about R-rated movies (you can see it here:

    The MPAA ratings are applicable only for the United States. Ratings are done on a country-by-country basis and are, to be perfectly honest, quite arbitrary.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Editorial error: President Benson to the Young Men in 1986:

    Megan Reply:

    I have to agree with Tiffany on this. There are multiple references that say to NOT watch rated R movies. I would refer you to this site that highlight the references.
    This is a matter of faith. We have been asked not to by people we sustain in the church. There are a few things that I can follow 100% and know that I am doing so. This is one of those issues.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I’m sorry, but even those references don’t make this a church doctrine or even a standard. The references are outdated and the ‘R-rated movies’ stipulation has been removed from official church publications (ie, documents signed by the First Presidency) such as For the Strength of Youth.

    Just because something was said in General Conference doesn’t automatically make it doctrine. Unless it is voted in at a conference or presented by the first presidency, it’s policy at the most (but more likely cultural).

    Megan Reply:

    You are right. However, I think if the references are outdated (saying not to watch r rated movies) how much more so does that apply to today when movies have even more content in them that wasn’t allowed back then?

    Maybe I could find a quote on this but don’t we believe general conference is modern day scripture? So if someone mentions this in conference doesn’t that mean we should follow it?

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I actually don’t think it does. I think that a lot of opinions get shared in general conference. I can think of at least one specific example where an opinion has been revised or removed before the conference talk even went to publication.

    I think that ratings in general are arbitrary. As mentioned above, ratings are set by a secular group (that often is unduly influenced by studios). I don’t want them telling me what to do.

    No, I’m not going to advocate that everyone should watch every movie that has ever been made. I just think that an arbitrary letter shouldn’t prevent me from seeing a life-changing movie like Schindler’s List.

    Hailey Reply:

    You’re right that if US R movies were bad 4 decades ago, they’re full of more smut now. So by choosing movies based on morals before ratings, I would not be surprised to see that most R rated movies would be found inappropriate, but also a lot of PG movies too. But, this ‘commandment’ is actually outdated in that it has been superceded by later omissions of the no-R-movies mandate, replaced by guidelines on specific immoral aspects of media to be avoided.
    Also, you are right that general conference is doctrine (techinically, the conference report – not to be confused with the conference edition of the Ensign – is the ‘doctrinal’ publication that comes from general conference, and yes corrections can be made between conference itself and publication), but there are two very important elements to discerning doctrine – is it official doctrine, taken from an official doctrinal source (stuff canonised and signed by the first presidency), and is it current. There is plenty of stuff that made it to the conference report and even into the standard works that has later been made redundant by more contemporary revelation, often calls to live higher versions of a law. In this case, I have to say… if it ever made it to the conference report about R rated movies, sure, it could have been doctrine, but it has been later omitted and superceded. So, at best I deem this was doctrinal once, but now is no longer current, and has been replaced by a much better doctrine.

    Tiffany Reply:

    “We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterward. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, p. 58; or Ensign, May 1986, p. 45). President Benson

    Even though it was stated in 1986 doesn’t mean it doesn’t still apply…don’t you apply your scriptures to your life? Also I found this quote in a question answer period about the changes in the for strength of youth pampthlet by a general authority,
    “This is not to be interpreted that the Church approves of R-rated or any other inappropriate movies.” I think the reason they got away from stating a specific R rating is because most pg-13 movies should be rated R so if anything we should get farther away from rated R movies then closer to them. and yes also because outside of the U.S. the system is different. But like i said it should make us stay even further away not start watching them.

    But what I think really made me go “hmmm” was this phrase Jenna said, “What is dramatic is that I’ve decided not to worry about what is said in the Strength of Youth pamphlet when I choose what to watch.” The strength of youth applies to all of us not just the “youth” at this time. In a way we are still “youth” this pamphlet is put out by the LDS church and therefore crosses the desk of the prophet. He put the stamp of approval on it with lots of prayer and help from our Heavenly Father so he knew exactly how to counsel us in a way that our Heavenly Father sees fit. therefore I believe it is a pamphlet of standards Heavenly Father wants us to live by.

    I’m not trying to judge Jenna or anyone else, I know people aren’t perfect. i just don’t want other people who don’t know much about the LDS faith to think that we can disregard what our prophets and leaders have been teaching us for so long. they want us to question and ask the lord ourselves if it is true. But in the LDS church some things are black and white. and no watching a rated R movie is not going to keep you from the temple. But it may lead to a path that could eventually keep you from it. for me it’s about obeying. We won’t be kept from the temple without reading our scriptures daily or saying our prayers daily but we have been asked to read them by our prophets and leaders, and in not reading and praying may start leading us down a path that will keep us from the House of the Lord.

    this was stated in a general conference too.
    “Now, brethren of the priesthood, there should not be any X- or R-rated movies that we participate in viewing or talking about.” H. Burke Peterson, general conference October 1980

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I absolutely do use the scriptures to guide my life. I still don’t think that an R-rating should keep me from seeing a film that is clearly not “immoral, suggestive, or pornographic” such as The King’s Speech or Schindler’s List. I just don’t. I don’t judge you for not having seen them and I feel perfectly comfortable attending my Sunday meetings and the temple despite having seen these and other R-rated movies.

    megan Reply:

    “What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies. That ought to be enough” (Ensign, July 1998, 16). —Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy

    megan Reply:

    This is my take on it.
    There will always be this argument until the current prophet comes out and specifically says not to watch rated r movies.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree!

    Hailey Reply:

    I’ll have to disagree too, based on the fact that since these original mandates to avoid R rated movies have been superceded by omissions of ratings guidelines and rather instruction on the morals that we take into account when we choose which media is appropriate to consume.

    The prophet back in the 80s can say not to go to R rated movies, but that doesn’t do anyone a lot of good in any country other than the US. It is impractical, I follow Australian ratings, and sure, I could look up a US movie rating, but why would I base my viewing on another country’s rating system? I actually do not have the slightest regard for the US rating system, so it is very difficult for me to accept the idea that this is how God wants us to decide what is and isn’t okay.

    Hailey Reply:

    I do not consider the quotes at the beginning and the end of your comment valid, because they have been superceded by conference talks that omit mention of ratings and instead instruct us on what types of media and certain immoral things that we should avoid. That is a higher law.

    ‘This is not to be interpreted that the church approves of R rated movies’. I do not think that the church DOES approve of R rated movies, nor do I expect it to, but it has removed its ‘mandate’, if it ever was one, to include specific ratings as the way by which we judge the appropriateness of a movie. Meaning… you interpret that to mean the church still says we must NOT watch R rated movies, and I interpret it to mean that the church has removed the mandate but not because R movies are okay after all, but simply because we should be using our own judgement to find out which movies are okay to watch or not… and more than likely, this will lead to people finding a lot of below-R-rating movies abhorrent and inappropriate. That, to me, is a higher law. Bar raised!

    But if you’re right and we have a contemporary commandment to not watch movies, what do you expect the millions of Mormons all over the world to do with regards to following this ‘commandment’? Personally, I don’t place much stock in the moral abilities of the American ratings system. It means very little to me. I don’t know why American Mormons are willing to place their media morality in the hands of some secular board to decide which movies will edify them and which will wreck their souls. Do you think I’m a sinner because I deem a movie fair to watch based on Australian ratings and due diligence, but it might turn out that some group of people in America decided that it should be rated with the letter R, and therefore not considered fit for consumption by LDS brethren in the 70s and 80s? I don’t think so. I rest easy at night knowing I use my conscience and my noggin to inform decisions.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Well-said Hailey.

    megan Reply:

    Hailey, I really like your middle paragraph and the comment about the bar being raised/higher law. Very well said.

    Danielle Reply:

    No. It’s for the youth. It’s in the title. You can use it as a guide for yourself if you want, but it is published for and addressed to adolescents. Saying otherwise is nonsense.

    Danielle Reply:

    What’s more, if this is a “doctrine” why do film students at BYU watch R rated films as assigned by their professors?

    Set a standard for yourself that you are comfortable with. But don’t apply your standard to anyone else, member or not. This is an area where one uses their agency to make a judgement call. There is no cut and dry directive from God.

    Kristin Reply:

    I agree that the LDS church asks us to look for things that are praiseworthy, of good report, etc. (think 13th article of faith). Lots of PG-13 movies don’t meet that requirement but lots of members rationalize that with “but it isn’t R” so it must be alright. There were people who mentioned not watching R-rated movies in their conference addresses in the 1980′s but don’t you find it curious that it hasn’t been mentioned in almost 30 years? Perhaps we are being asked, as others have already mentioned, to use the guidance of the Holy Ghost to know what is appropriate for us as individuals. Doesn’t that seem smarter? Jenna said in her post that sex-related scenes are something that she personally wants to stay away from, as well as language. I cannot take violence in movies, specifically torture, but maybe she can. It is really up to us on a case by case, individual basis, to decide what is appropriate for us. That being said, as far as it being doctrine to not watch R movies, I don’t think I would take it that far. I did my post-undergrad work at BYU in the College of Humanities and many of the movies we were asked to watch were R rated. City of God was one that was hard for me to watch, but it helped me understand more about life in Rio’s Favelas.(the movie is based on a fictional work by Paulo Lins, who was a social worker in the Favelas for years before writing the book). This was followed by Almost Brothers which explains how the drig trafficking came to be in Rio. Batismo de Sangue was another that was hard to watch, but helped me see the realities of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship and the role the Catholic Church played during those years. Domesticas is a satiric take on the socio-economic role of house help in Sao Paulo. These all would certainly have an R rating in the US, but were watched for classes at BYU. There are many films that are considered art and very worth the time because they expose us to things that are real human experiences that we would otherwise be unaware of. And just as with studio art (paintings, sculpture etc.) we personally need to know where we need to draw the line to keep the companionship of the spirit.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Very well said, Kristin.

    Tiffany Reply:

    i agree that people think well it isn’t rated R so it must be ok. Which is probably why they don’t specifically say that anymore. but I think if we are “raising the bar” we would say all R ratings are out and most pg-13 and pg and probably some g ones are out too. Also the Australian, i thought i read about that the rated R ones in austrialia are the really really bad ones. so again, they probably had people saying well it isn’t rated R so it is ok. it goes for everwhere. movies get R ratings due to violence, sexuality, and language, all of which we are asked not to partake in.

    also even though the for strength of youth says youth in the title does not mean we disregard it. We are asked to teach the youth of our church and be an example for them. how are we to teach them the standards from this pamphlet if we are not living them ourselves? Christ was baptized not because he needed to be, but because he wanted us to follow his example. I think we need to be living the standards for the youth of our church and of our families.

    also no i don’t think any of you are sinners. i’m human too, i am not perfect and make mistakes often! This is just my opinion on the matter. which i am also not perfect at. although i don’t watch rated r movies i have watched other rated movies that i should not have and regretted later.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    I don’t really get this perspective of no R rated films, period. Ratings are different in every country (and in Canada different in every province) so that seems arbitrary.

    Hailey Reply:

    See, but I don’t see watching US R movies as a sin at all. I think watching movies with poor moral messages and scenes etc is a sin, and so by implication, watching a lot of the US R movies would be wrong. And yes in Australia R is a much higher rating, so I actually would never ever see an AUS R movie, because they are basically pornos. If I followed this so-called guideline and avoided only R movies in my country, id be seeing a lot of crap…. and no, we don’t use the rationale that ‘it isn’t R rated so its okay’, because we actually don’t preach anything related to ratings here, seeing as there is no current or relevant doctrine on the matter. We just use our brains and make good choices influenced by church standards and current revelations.

    Christiana Reply:

    wait, so all the R-rated movie stuff has only been directed at men? So women can watch R-rated movies, but men can’t? The quotes you used are directed to Young Men and the brethren of the priesthood. I’m not LDS, so I am genuinely asking. I thought only men are given the priesthood, and since it seems specifically for men-how is it known that women are to follow that as well (since it seems LDS usually promote a “separate but equal” thing in regards to gender).

    Tiffany Reply:

    sorry I should have explained when it stated young men. This quote was given to the men in a preisthood meeting. so no women were present during the actual meeting. BUT it is meant for ALL members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We don’t have different standards for men as we do for Women. The For Strength of Youth Pamphlet is also for men and women. And you are right only men hold the Priesthood. But because of the context of where they were when they said this they used “young men.” But we all live by the same standards.

    HEB Reply:

    I agree with Megan…my mom has always said that we never know what blessings we might be receiving just by not watching R-rated movies. I feel that if Jesus Christ were sitting in the living room with us, he would uphold the admonition to stay away from R rated movies, and for that matter, all movies that contaminate our minds. THis is not brain-washed thinking. Rather, it is a way to keep our minds spiritualy clean, like that of a child. I can not tell my children not to watch rated r material and watch it myself, for whatever reason. This is not something I have come to lightly. I used to watch them and felt the spirit slip away. I have not watched them for years now and I know that this is the right choice.

  29. A huge recommendation from me for ‘The Wire’. That series is the best thing I have ever seen on TV.

    FM Reply:

    The Wire is amazing, but you should be aware that there are some gratuitous very graphic sex/nude scenes (mostly in the early seasons) that you would probably want to fast forward through. They are really gratuitous, as in you won’t miss anything by not watching the scene so long as you get that the sex is happening, and I think the writers figured out it wasn’t necessary because they stopped including the graphic stuff. I hope this would not deter you from watching the series because it is a truly fascinating and thought-provoking series. There is also a lot of swearing because it is realistic.

    Also, Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under are both brilliant, if you’re looking for tv series. Breaking Bad is on AMC so probably was already ok for you to watch. Six Feet Under has swearing and lots of “mature content” that would get it an R rating if it were a movie (graphic sexual content although don’t remember too many graphic sex scenes but more graphic issues, drug use, violence, swearing, etc.), but I don’t remember anything being gratuitous. These are all series that explore morality, mortality, love, relationships, etc. in really deep and interesting ways and really affect the way you think about the world and your own perspectives.

  30. I’d like to echo Billy Elliot and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    And… if you ever change your mind about “horror,” I think The Shining and Silence of the Lambs and A Clockwork Orange are incredible films.

    Paula Reply:

    Eternal Sunshine is amazing… And surprisingly romantic! Silence of the Lambs is my favorite movie, but I majored in CJ, so I will watch many things that other people find disturbing.

    Jackie Reply:

    Ditto. Love eternal sunshine.

    Rachel Reply:

    Another ditto for Eternal Sunshine. One of my favorite movies of all time!!

  31. The ratings system is so subjective–I have seen PG movies I would have rated near R and R movies that I never could figure out how it got the rating…..

    The Sweet Hereafter was good but it made me cry.

    I saw Schindlers List in school, actually–heartbreaking but much of history is. I plan on showing it to my children when they are old enough because I think it is so important for them to understand what happened.

  32. Not a film but a sitcom, a BBC sitcom, about a Chruch of England priest who becomes the vicar of an inner-city London church. Not sure if its being shown on BBC America yet but well worth tracking down. Its called Rev and, despite the occasional use of the F word, will get you thinking.

  33. I forgot Brokeback Mountain. Honestly, I cannot see why it was rated R- the scenes between the two men are all implied, there is some language, yes, but all in all it is a beautiful and heartbreaking love story.

    Jenna Reply:

    I would imagine it’s rated R because it covers homosexuality? With the current cultural ideas/beliefs about homosexuality throughout much of America that is what makes sense to me. Frustrating to think that a heterosexual love scene would not have garnered the same rating (purely speculation, but I feel it’s probably true).

    Nina Reply:

    I’m a curious what you mean by “the current cultural ideas/beliefs about homosexuality throughout much of America” and how that would affect the film rating. Reviewing some internet references to Gallup polls pre-2005 (Brokeback Mountain’s release year) shows that even in 2003 more than 50% of Americans were accepting of homosexuality and approved equal rights for hetero and homosexuals. Your statement kind of sounds like the MPAA rated the film R because it deals with something controversial that some people consider a moral issue. My hope is the MPAA was just doing it’s job and rated the film R because it met the criteria, not because it was trying to police moral turpitude.

    I know you haven’t seen the film (yet!), but there is more than just sex between two men. There’s sex between a married couple, there’s violence, and there’s swearing.

    My guess (and hope) is that the film was rated R merely because there is sex, language, and violence that reaches the R threshold, not because it deals with homosexuality. I hope you watch it soon and can report back with your own thoughts!

    Shanna Reply:

    I think Jenna has the right idea here. The MPAA isn’t very fair when it comes to ratings. If this is true (I haven’t done any fact checking whatsoever) Ryan Gosling was criticizing recently that a movie he was in received an R rating for showing a sex act performed on a woman where the same act performed on a man would have gotten PG-13. I think that was the gist of it. I can see the MPAA rating homosexual sex acts as R regardless of how explicit the scenes are.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Ryan Gosling was correct and the doc This film is not yet rated addresses that very issue (and others). I vote you watch it Jenna and see how/if it adds anything to your current thinking on film.

    Nodakademic Reply:

    I agree, This Film Is Not Yet Rated is an excellent documentary about the MPAA and their non-standard rating scale.

    Sophia Reply:


    Jax Reply:

    I agree with the idea that cultural ideas/beliefs affect ratings. The first R rated movie I saw was The Matrix (a movie I had been wanting to see for YEARS) because I learned that it was originally rated PG-13 but was changed to an R rating because of the Columbine shootings (there is a scene where the characters bring guns into a building in black trench coats). Granted, I’ve never seen proof that this information is more than a rumor or speculation, but it makes sense since there is much worse violence and language in a lot of PG-13 movies I’ve seen. I’ve never seen Brokeback Mountain so I have no idea if homosexuality is the reason for it’s rating, but I’m sure it was probably a factor.

  34. Hey, I interned for the director of Taxi to the Dark Side! It’s a must-watch. Also, I think I remember you said you didn’t like the book Fight Club, but I still have to recommend the movie. It’s got a bit of violence and sex but the message is just too important. Also, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Motorcycle Diaries!

  35. The Pianist. This movie is phenomenal and really really moving.
    Also fully endorse Shchindlers List
    Pans Labyrinth
    and the Green Mile
    all are amazing!

    Mags Reply:

    Yes, I was thinking the Pianist too. Also, Hotel Rwanda. Children of Men is an excellent film. I also really loved Slumdog Millionaire. I’m guessing Black Swan is probably out as a psycho-sexual thriller but it is REALLY good!

    a Reply:

    I am not a crier at all, but I lost it with the pianist. it is heartbreaking, inspiring, poignant and moving. a must see!

  36. You know the term rated R in an American term. I am English and our ratings in England are very different as the rest of the world. You will notice after President Kimball the Term Rated R has not been used by General authorities as I am sure people from other countries had no idea what that meant and when they did it had no relevance to them.

    Also, you will find it’s the local leaders that talk about no rated R movies and personally I think it is silly not to watch a movie because of its rating. You should not watch a movie because it offends you in some way. I watch movies based on what I have read about it, recommendations, kids in mind and at the end of the day if I don’t like what I watch I simply turn it off.

    When I attended BYU (I loved BYU) many people were horrified at the movies I had watched and would watch. I thought it was childish that someone so intelligent wouldn’t watch a movie because of it’s rating but will sit through a movie full of innuendos and filth because it was PG-13.

    Some of the most powerful movies I have ever seem have been Rated R in America. Shchindlers list was part of our education in middle school and I have been changed by that movie. The last samurai and Gladiator are such a powerful movies. The passion of Christ increased my testimony in Jesus Christ in so many ways, I am forever grateful I saw it.

    thanks for your thoughts!

    Katy Reply:

    “I thought it was childish that someone so intelligent wouldn’t watch a movie because of it’s rating but will sit through a movie full of innuendos and filth because it was PG-13.”

    Exactly. I think many of us (sometimes myself included!) have been willing to pat ourselves on the back for casting out R, but still fully embracing PG13 despite little difference between them and an R rating sometimes. (Sometimes we’re talking just one additional F word that seperates them) I don’t think that was the intent when Pres. Kimball advised on avoiding movies with questionable content to think as long as we are following the *exact* counsel everything else is totally okay.

    Hailey Reply:

    A giant AMEN from Australia! The R rated thing irks me because it seems to exclude or ignore the globalised aspect of the church, and nobody seems to notice that the R rating mandate is totally outdated. In a globalised, raising-the-bar time for the church, contemporary talks focus on values and standards rather than petty, globally irrelevant rules.

    Paula Reply:

    My husband and I were in the same boat during college. We would get a lot of flack for our movie choices, we started to flaunt it. We made shirts for “the hellfire club” and put a big R on the front pocket. We just got sick of all the judgmental people!

    Right before that, I was kicked out of my house because I used the TV to watch an R rated movie, and my roommate did not want her TV to be infected with sin or something. A girl at my husband’s house was very vocal about leaving during an R rated movie, but they found her later having sex with someone. I thought it was funny that she wouldn’t watch and R rated movie,m but she would live an R rated life, LOL! Ah college… So glad I am not there anymore!

    Jen Allyson Reply:

    what does the BYU co-ed do when someone brings beer to the party? Puts her shirt back on and leaves!

    I love that joke and I went to BYU :P But I do think that the idea that a sin that others can SEE is vilified far more than one that can be hidden.

    regarding this particular discussion – I consider some great films art. I am an artist. As an adult (not a horny teen boy) I have no problem reconciling some nudity and language within an artform. And I am not going to keep myself from experiencing a beautiful creation because of an arbitrary rating system that would rate a movie like “american pie” with the same letter as a beautiful film like “braveheart”.

  37. I have a comment on the desensitization to foul language. I’m in your boat where I don’t swear or curse, but aside from church friends and family, I’m the only one in my circle who doesn’t. I’ve never purposefully limited the type of media that I consumed in order to avoid profanity (honestly, it’s never crossed my mind), and, let’s be honest, it’s hard to avoid the casual cursers out and about. Even though I feel like profanity is all around me, I’ve never been tempted to curse, nor have I ever accidentally slipped in anger or surprise. I just don’t like those types of words, so they don’t enter my mind, I guess. I’m not saying you should just let loose and watch all kinds of cuss-filled movies. It’s just that to me, you seem firm in your conviction to not use those types of words, so I think it will be harder for them to enter your vocabulary than you think.

    Andrea Reply:

    I just wanted to +1 joyjoy’s comment, as this is the exact same thought that popped into my mind when I read this post.

    I absolutely commend you for being brave enough to venture outside of your comfort zone and for having the courage to ask these questions.

    On the topic of foul language, I guess I don’t fully understand how hearing other people swear translates to you swearing (whereas I do understand how pornographic images could change your thoughts about sex and intimacy).

    I place zero limits on the media I watch and have watched a lot of things with a lot of foul language (The Sopranos, Californication, The Wire etc.), but I don’t swear. I don’t swear because I am possessed of freewill and therefore can choose not to swear. I guess I just wonder what kind of message the LDS church is sending to its members by basically saying that they (the members) cannot watch R rated movies, for example, because this will cause them to be be simply unable to quell the profanity that will thereafter spill unwillingly from their mouths.

    This, to me, creates a relationship of distrust between the church and its members. It’s as though they are saying that you are somehow so flawed that you can’t even control what comes out of your mouth. It is very disconcerting to me, as an outsider looking in.

    Hailey Reply:

    I think it’s more the idea that we should avoid morally turbid influences – out of sight, out of mind – rather than the idea that the LDS church acts as like a nanny for our minds. And actually, the idea that R rated movies are forbidden within the LDS church is actually outdated. These days instruction from church leaders regarding media would consist more of what specific things we avoid. Personally, based on my tastes, my upbringing, and of course what I have been influenced and taught to do at church, I avoid media with swearing, among many other things. It kind of gets in my head. Things we view stay with us. I don’t want images popping into my mind, but I also don’t want words popping into my mouth. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, but I have found that my language and thoughts are as susceptible as each other when it comes to being influenced by media. That’s my take on it.

    Hailey Reply:

    Oops, I think I misread your last sentence. I don’t think the church encourages us to avoid bad influences because we are to fallible to control ourselves – the whole point of our religious discipline is to better ourselves. The attitude and intention is more along the lines of, if you just keep your life clean of influences you don’t want, you don’t have to worry about it. If a person is dedicated to not swearing, they aren’t going to do it in any environment. But if they listen to swearing a lot, they can become desensitised, and you don’t lose your ability to control so much as your desire to control. And then it becomes a choice. I don’t want swearing to appeal to me, nor does it currently, and so I don’t tolerate a lot of it in movies. Again, that’s just my experience, but I think it is also a somewhat of common experience.

    Jenna Reply:

    I guess I’m thinking more about… slamming my finger in something and swearing in front of the toddler. Or getting really, really angry at someone and calling them a b*tch. I have never done those things, and I attribute that in part because I have tried to avoid profanity (sort of, I’m certainly not perfect at it).

    But maybe I’m attributing my lack of swearing incorrectly. Maybe it is in fact that I have excellent self-control (not the movies I avoided) and I should be proud and can go ahead and watch what I want? (I am half joking here, which you can’t tell from text :) ).

    Jenna Reply:

    Maybe I’ll test out your theory?

    And I did want to note that I don’t think watching profanity laden movies would remove my self-control and profane words would just tumble out at will. I just worry that if I tested the waters, it might be difficult for me personally to go back again.

    Emmie Reply:

    I swear way too much as do a lot of lawyers and I have found that my language is worse since I started at this new firm. I think you repeat what you hear, even subconsciously.

    Jen Allyson Reply:

    I hardly swear at all – aside from the occasional “damn!” which is hardly a swear word at all. I think constantly being around swearing – like middle and high school or a sweary office – has far more influence then the occasional movie. Not to mention that if you watch TV and any PG+ movies lately you’re getting nearly as much swearing as an R rated movie. I think you’re going to be just fine.

  38. This is the topic I expected. I can’t wait for the other 3!

    Shaylene Reply:

    Oh and I will add my opinion. I do think that this is a personal choice for you and as long as you feel good about it I guess it works. I will not be following your lead on this one (for now at least) since it is just easier for me to just group out all R-rated movies. I just don’t want to spend the time researching and deciding if I think a movie is okay. My decision is based on laziness and I don’t feel like I am missing out on much anyway.

    Jenna Reply:

    I make plenty of decisions based on laziness, so I know how that goes, haha.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Not even Passion of the Christ?

    Shaylene Carter Reply:

    If you are asking if I feel like I am missing out on seeing Passion of The Christ, then I would have to say no. Maybe it is because I didn’t hear great things about it, but I don’t care much about seeing it.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Yes that’s what I was wondering about but poorly communicating

  39. I’ve done the same thing with books (I’m Mormon). There are plenty of uplifting, thought-provoking, and even life changing books out there that have violence, sex, and profanity. My personal standard is to stay away from the profanity because I don’t like the way it gets stuck in my head. Sometimes I skip sex scenes. Nor do I read just any old book. On the whole, I find this to be a broadening experience just like you, Jenna.

    I agree that the narrow view of blind obedience blinds one to the beauty of choosing to be selective about entertainment. As mentioned, there are plenty of TV shows, PG and PG-13 movies that are not uplifting in any way. I would argue that faithful Mormons should recognize the difference between the letter and spirit of the law. Of course this is a personal journey and not everyone will reach the same conclusions, and certainly not in the same time frame.

    In conclusion, let’s not judge each other! Just seek for personal growth!

  40. Honest question, when listening to a movie/song/tv show that has a curse word bleeped out (For instance “You *bleep*ing idiot!” do you not fill in the curse word in your own mind? Does it really just float over your head?
    Because when I hear things that are bleeped my brain automatically fills in the curse word.
    Just curious how someone who doesn’t curse hears bleeped words.

    Jenna Reply:

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. One more reason to try to avoid it I guess. I’m more worried about actions than thoughts though.

  41. Funny story: I borrowed Schindler’s List to watch because I’d never seen it before. It was a rainy afternoon so I popped the disc in. 90-ish minutes later it ended and I thought to myself “Well, that wasn’t so bad.” (Graphically speaking.) Turns out, it’s a TWO disc movie. I never did see the second half!

    I do NOT recommend Passion of the Christ. I think it’s just violence for the sake of being shocking. I didn’t think it enriched my faith/understanding/life one teeny tiny bit. It was a disgusting display.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Violence for the sake of being shocking? Isn’t it supposed to be a realistic representation of what Jesus went through for you? Isn’t it the point that it’s hard to watch and is ‘a disgusting display’?

    I am interested in how this movie is perceived by Christians (particularly fundamentalists) so if there are more POV out there please share!

    Sarah Reply:

    Also, I think the fact that it was directed and produced by Mel Gibson speaks volumes. The guy is clearly off his rocker.

    vintage_paige Reply:

    I have in fact not seen this movie nor am I religious, but as I said am interested in its mixed reception among Christians. The Mel Gibson aspect might explain a lot.

    Hannah Lundberg Reply:

    Mel Gibson is an anti-semitic, bigoted and hypocritical man, in addition to being completely off his rocker. Passion Of The Christ is a movie full of violence and historical misinformation. Its intent was less about accurately portraying Jesus’ crucifixion and more about perpetuating hatred toward the partied he deems responsible – namely the Jewish people.

    Watch it, for the sake of viewing it, but don’t believe that you are someone seeing anything remotely historically accurate or even well-meaning.

    Kelly @ The Startup Wife Reply:

    As a Christian, I had pretty mixed feelings about that movie. I regret watching it. If I had kids, I would never want them to see it (and I’m pretty anti-censorship in general and don’t plan to police what they watch all that much). I also found it deeply anti-Semitic (like how all the worst character in the movie were the most quintessentially “Jewish-looking,” and the good people/characters were super Caucasian-looking, which … come on).

    It did I guess hit home for me the notion of Christ sacrificing his life and suffering, but what stood out for me more was the cruelty and the extreme brutality–to me the movie felt really unredemptive. It felt more like a showcase of absolutely sickening violence. Not that that doesn’t exist, obviously, because it does, and that is part of the story, and I think it’s important that art deal with that, but it just–I don’t know. I guess I think people can have powerful responses to the movie (horror at the suffering) and that’s definitely worth something, but I didn’t feel like the movie should take any credit for that because it just didn’t feel like a movie that was made from pure intentions. You know? I mean, if someone had some deep spiritual experience watching it then who am I to judge, but I think that’s more about the viewer than the movie itself. It felt like a movie made by someone who wanted to watch someone suffer for hours in unspeakable ways and someone who was fascinated by that suffering rather than horrified by it. At the time I knew basically nothing about Mel Gibson but walked away thinking, wow, the person who made this movie must have an incredibly disturbed mind. I felt incredibly sick afterwards and truly wish I’d never watched it. Would never recommend it to anyone. (Jenna, I vote you skip that one!!)

    vintage_paige Reply:

    Thanks Kelly that was a fantastic explanation.

    Marissa C Reply:

    Though it was very violent, I’m not a Mel Gibson fan, and it’s not something I would watch “for fun” I think it is worth seeing one time as a Christian to really get a taste for what Jesus went through. I thought the movie was actually incredibly well done. I don’t like Mel Gibson as a person, but you cannot deny his talent as a director (see “Braveheart”)

    I also think the anti-Semitic aspect was completely overblown. Many of the “movers and shakers” in Hollywood are Jewish and felt it was a threat before even seeing the movie. No one in their right mind blames the Jewish people for what happened to Jesus. Sure, there are some that do, but I said “in their right mind!”

    And if you really think The Passion was just a vehicle for Mel Gibson to display his raging anti-Semitism, please explain to me why he chose a Jewish actress to play Mary?

  42. The King’s Speech is the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

    I didn’t even realize that The Shawshank Redemption was rated R. Been recommending that one to everyone for years. Oopsies….

    I think my perspective was changed dramatically when I started spending time outside of the US. As others have mentioned the relationship between movies rated as for adults between countries is completely arbitrary. Pan’s Labyrinth did not receive such a stringent rating in Spain as it did in the US.

    Like you plan to do, I research the movies I want to see. If it’s rated R for certain elements that I can’t tolerate for whatever reason (violence against children is just unbearable for me), I don’t see it. If, for example, it’s rated R for language (like The King’s Speech), I do a little more research.

    That being said, I confess that I have a weak spot for raunchy comedies. I’m working on it. :)

  43. I hope you don’t lose too much sleep over this one, because as you probably know now, doctrinally the R rated thing is outdated and irrelevant :) but its awesome that you had this ‘awakening’, because I know most American Mormons grow up having this idea ingrained into them by well meaning parents and leaders, so it is a big deal and really admirable (not to mention courageous) that you were able say ‘haaaang on a minute…’ about this one, when probably a lot of people say you’re wrong. Enjoy your viewing, I can’t make any recommendations because even though I’m a lifelong member of the church, in Australia I have never been taught or abided by the ‘doctrine’ of not watching US-rated R movies, so though I am sure I must’ve seen a lot of US R movies, I have no idea which ones they are…. oh, but you mentioned The Ides Of March, I started watching that but turned it off because there was enough profanity near the beginning that it bugged me and I lost interest.

    Senora H-B Reply:

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

  44. I think this is an amazing and wonderful post. I don’t think that thinking about things critically and changing one’s perspective as one grows up is a thing to be criticized, but a thing to be applauded. It means we are always questioning, searching for truth, figuring it out. I’m sure we all make mistakes as we go along, and might change our minds again. To steadfastly deny change because of fear seems a more dangerous path. I like the way you’re thinking!

  45. schindlers list, the passion.., and shawshank..yes, yes and yes!
    Also, have you seen Band of Brothers? I know it’s not technically a movie. It was a miniseries on HBO, but with the violence and language I figure you might not have seen it. It’s def. a good show to watch. It really gives you an idea of what the soldiers went through. Plus, they have interviews with some of the real members of easy company and I have to tell you…it really gets to you. I can’t pass up watching it if I know it’s going to be on.

    Senora H-B Reply:


  46. I second The King’s Speech, and I also really liked The Reader. The Reader has some nudity and sexuality, but I thought the moral issues it explored were fascinating. Ditto Sophie’s Choice. Spike Lee movies like Do the Right Thing are smart/interesting and often R-rated. Murderball is a documentary rated R for profanity and some sexual content, but it changed the way I thought about people with disabilities. I found American History X gut-wrenchingly hard to watch, but moving and powerful. There are scads of films that portray ugly, violent, gritty realities of war-torn third world countries (Hotel Rwanda, Maria Full of Grace), and those are rated R basically across the board, but often are eye-opening. Happy watching!

    Piper Reply:

    I second The Reader. It is one of those movies you mull over for a long time after watching.

  47. What did you think of Amelie?

    One of my husband’s and my favorite films is The Lives of Others. It’s a fantastic German film about the censorship and surveillance of writers/artists during the 1980s. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

    I also second (third? fourth?) Pan’s Labyrinth, although it can definitely be difficult to watch because of the violence.

    Jo(ke) Reply:

    Yes! The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) is an amazing movie!

    Kristin Reply:

    The Lives of Others is wonderful! I agree it should be on your must see list, Jenna!

    Jenna Reply:

    You know? I didn’t like it, which is weird because everyone RAVES about it. I think I need to watch Amelie unedited because maybe I was missing something by letting someone else control what was in it. I had really high expectations though.

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