The Motion Picture Association of America does a few other things too, but its most visible impact on movie-going is its ratings system. G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17, you gotta have a rating for your movie if you want most theater chains to show it, and the MPAA's secretive clan of breast-counters and violence-ignorers decides which label its gets.
An overwhelming majority of films get the rating they deserve -- or, at the very least, a rating that's consistent with how the MPAA has rated other films with similar content. But some MPAA decisions are baffling, illogical, or just plain outrageous. Here are the ones that perplexed us the most this year.
The Worst MPAA Ratings of 2008
1. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (rated PG for "epic battle action and violence"). The MPAA says, "The ratings are intended to provide parents with advance information so they can decide for themselves which films are appropriate for viewing by their own children." It's all about parents looking out for their kids. So how in the name of C.S. Lewis did this film -- rife with stabbing, throat-slitting, decapitating, and large-scale slaughter, much of it perpetrated by teenage characters -- get a PG? Does the fact that most of the violence is bloodless (and therefore not realistic) somehow make it family-friendly? Had there been even one sexual reference, it would have gotten a PG-13. Thank goodness Disney only packed the film with killing instead!