Drug Policy

It's Complicated Rating Extremely Complicated


"What did you do in the drug war, Daddy?"

"I rated movies for inappropriate contact, son."

The romantic comedy "It's Complicated" arrived at the multiplex on Friday complete with an R rating, ranking it in the same category as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Basic Instinct" in the eyes of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But there is no violence in "It's Complicated," and the bedroom scenes are decidedly tame by contemporary standards. Instead, the R rating — which experts say could limit the box-office potential of the Universal Pictures film — comes largely from a sequence in which Steve Martin and Meryl Streep smoke marijuana.

Whole NY Times story here.

Among movies featuring drug use that got PG ratings? 9 to 5 and Annie Hall. But they were released a long time ago, in a country far, far, away.

NEXT: 2,780 Climate Lobbyists and Counting

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


  2. 9 to 5 is an all-time classic 🙂

    (and the pot scene in the R-rated “Animal House” was nowhere near as “shocking” as all the other stuff, grin)

  3. What was Up in Smoke rated?

    And Moose, 9 to 5 had Dabney Coleman, creating a Mustache Rating of X, which was quite shocking at the time.

    1. Up In Smoke had an R rating in the U.S. It was banned in Finland.

  4. MPAA sucks, but it’s still voluntary, right? Blame the theaters too cowardly to screen unrated movies.

    1. I think it is more “voluntary” (wink wink).

  5. They should hand out spliffs to moviegoers just to make these things watchable. Am I right, people?

  6. We will know things are getting better when right-wing hacks like Nick Gillespie are forced to get real jobs.

    1. I’ll take non-sequitur for $100, Alex.

    2. Dumbass comment! Dumbass comment!

    3. Another brilliant observation Morris.

  7. Annie Hall also has that LA producer friend of Woody’s talking about banging 16 year old twins, if I remember correctly.

    Also, if I may digress for a moment. Annie Hall has NOT stood up well over the years. I briefly had HBO as a free promotion and what I learned from it is that Annie Hall is not nearly as good as everybody says and From Justin to Kelly was actually kind of a fun little movie.

    1. From Justin to Kelly was actually kind of a fun little movie.

      Why do you hate America, Billy(!)?

    2. I’m 27 and just saw it for the first time. Badass movie.

  8. Was there a rating on “Reefer Madness”, or did it predate?

    1. Made in 1936. Given a PG rating in 1973 in the U.S.

      1. The movie is labeled non-fiction educational by the feds.


          *died of laughter*

  9. Didn’t Poltergeist get an R rating for joint smoking?

    1. Poltergeist, oddly enough, got an R rating originally for “intense scenes of horror”, not pot-smoking, but the producers made an appeal to the ratings board and it was released as a PG. And it had one of the greatest all-time spliff scenes in film history – two parents getting high, reading Reagan’s biography just before tucking their kids into bed. Ah, the 80’s.

  10. I don’t think many people under 17 would watch a romantic comedy starring Steve Martin and Meryl Streep anyways.

    1. See, there’s easier ways to keep kids out than the ratings system.

    2. I don’t think many people under 17 would watch a romantic comedy starring Steve Martin and Meryl Streep anyways.

  11. In Across The Universe (PG-13, if I recall), there’s a musical number where they mime smoking a joint, but then exhaling actual smoke. I sort of blinked hard and thought, what did I just see? In a later scene, there’s a lit joint in an ashtray, but no one actually touched it.

    From this I assumed that the “use” drugs gets you an instant R, but it’s not a “use” to show it or to mime it.

    Politically, it was nauseating, but aesthetically, I liked the extra surreal element.

    1. The butchering done to most of the songs in that movie should easily have earned it an R rating.

  12. [Insert Alec Baldwin’s fat ass joke here.]

  13. To be fair, those movies would’ve almost certainly received a PG-13 had such rating existed back then.

  14. Annie Hall is not nearly as good as everybody says

    Its critical appeal is the same as Seinfeld‘s was. The kind of people who talk, like really talk, or write, about movies and TV get to say “The characters are just like me and my friends!” when it’s not true at all.

    Woody Allen in the ’70s was an unparalleled genius at offering urban dweebs opportunities to flatter themselves dishonestly. ****, because I suspect he did it on purpose.

    1. I dunno about that. I’m a big, fat, non-Jewish, beer guzzlin’, death metal fan and i like Seinfeld a lot. Very smart humor, after their initial lack of funnyness the first season or two.

      Annie Hall, booooooring. Like that scene where Woody and Annie are talking and their “real thoughts” are shown at the bottom of the screen. I’ve read commentary gushing about the “hilarious genius” of this scene. Huh? Was that ever smart or funny? Maybe in the 70’s that was cutting edge, but it’s dumb and boring now.

    2. Add me to the “Woody Allen sux” list. Totally overrated; the funniest thing he ever did was What’s Up, Tiger Lily, and that was the first thing he did.

      His movies have their moments, but the guy has no directing style (the cinematography in his films is boring as hell), and his writing is self-indulgent crap. The Simpsons said it best when Homer started writing fortune cookies and Woody Allen is one of the room full of fortune cookie writers, looks at Homer’s work, and says “he’s like a young me”.

      1. “Sleeper” is hilarious. It’s also the only movie of his I’ve watched all the way through.

    3. “The characters are just like me and my friends!”

      I can’t watch Seinfeld without thinking about how i’d kill my friends if they kept fucking up my life week after week. Or at least find some new friends (oh wait, jerry tried that didn’t he?)

      1. For a stand-up comic like Jerry, George, Elaine, Cosmo and the minor friends were the motherlode of material.

        1. put a pause after Jerry please.

  15. So, basically the MPAA is the reason why I didn’t see Sherlock Holmes shooting up his 7% solution this past weekend.

    1. I thought the movie was excellent none the less.

      1. Rachel McAdams was miscast and she did not play a cultivated Irene Adler but she was great in The Notebook.

  16. It should be rated R because no one wants to see old people sex.

  17. It is comforting to know other people also think Woody Allen sucks. What an overrated piece of crap.

    The Beatles are also overrated. Who’s with me?!

    1. Utterly overrated. Led Zeppelin as well.

      1. Hey, wait a second. Led Zeppelin is great.

      2. Beatles suck. Zeppelin, not so much.

  18. It’s Complicated gets an “R” rating for showing marijuana smoking? Where would that leave That 70’s Show?

    That is one big display of hypocrisy.

  19. “What did you do in the drug war, Daddy?”


    1. waaaa ddddaaaaaa youaaa doaaaaaaa innntheee dddd rugg waar daaadyy?

  20. The movie was hilarious!! The theater was packed and most of the people were women 40+ yrs old. There was laughter thru about the entire movie. Anyone that was an old hippie, redneck, etc. and divorced could definately relate to this movie…there’s nothing wrong with a movie with a little weed…better that a lot of other trash out there now…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.