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June 19, 2008
The bounds of PG-13

When you see as many movies as I do, you get a sense just from watching a film what it's going to be rated.

But my rating abilities have proved faulty lately. Certain that the innuendo-filled "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" and "The Love Guru" (opening Friday) were rated R, I was surprised to find each rated PG-13.

Now, PG-13 always has been amorphous, allowing all sorts of questionable material as long as certain body parts and curse words stay under wraps.

I often have lamented, in print and in person, the amount of violence the MPAA allows in PG-13 films. I then follow -- at least in person -- with a kicker about how Americans are prudes about sex and far too accepting of violence. (This observation usually leads my friends, gathered around me in a dark coffeehouse, to nod so vigorously in agreement that the berets nearly slip from their heads).

But "Zohan" and "Love Guru" suggest the MPAA is loosening up on the sex front - a development I'll file in the "careful what you wish for" category.

Because when I call the MPAA raters prudish, I am referring to their stance on sex scenes between attractive people, not their views on penis jokes delivered by comic characters.

Maybe it's not sexuality that discomfits the ratings board after all, but the sincere expression of it.

I think the MPAA has intimacy issues.

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