Motion Picture Association of America Ratings
Source: Motion Picture Association of America's CARA (Classification and Rating Administration)
G - General Audiences
This is a film which contains nothing in theme, language, nudity and sex, violence, etc. that would, in the view of the Rating Board, be offensive to parents whose younger children view the film. The G rating is not a certificate of approval nor does it signify a children’s film.
Some snippets of language may go beyond polite conversation but they are common everyday expressions. No stronger words are present in G-rated films. The violence is at a minimum. Nudity and sex scenes are not present, nor is there any drug use content.
PG - Parental Guidance Suggested
This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but leaves the parent to make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not considered so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance.
There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning.
PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned
Is thus a sterner warning to parents, particularly when deciding which movies are not suitable for younger children. Parents, by the rating, are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children. A PG-13 film is one which, in the view of the Rating Board, leaps beyond the boundaries of the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents, but does not quite fit within the restricted R category. Any drug use content will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. In effect, the PG-13 cautions parents with more stringency than usual to give special attention to this film before they allow their 12-year-olds and younger to attend. If nudity is sexually oriented, the film will generally not be found in the PG-13 category. If violence is too rough or persistent, the film goes into the R (restricted) rating.
A film’s single use of one of the harsher sexually derived words, though only as an expletive, shall initially require the Rating Board to issue that film at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive must lead the Rating Board to issue a film an R rating, as must even one of these words used in a sexual context. These films can be rated less severely, however, if by a special vote, the Rating Board feels that a lesser rating would more responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents.
PG-13 places larger responsibilities on parents for their children and moviegoing. The voluntary rating system is not a surrogate parent, nor should it be. It cannot, and should not, insert itself in family decisions that only parents can make. Its purpose is to give pre-screened informational warnings, so that parents can form their own judgments. PG-13 is designed to make parental decisions easier for films between PG and R.
R - Restricted, Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian
In the opinion of the Rating Board, this film definitely contains some adult material. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about this film before they allow their children to accompany them. An R-rated film may include strong language, violence, nudity, drug abuse, other elements, or a combination of the above, so parents are counseled in advance to take this advisory rating very seriously.
NC-17, No One 17 and Under Admitted
This rating declares that the Rating Board believes this is a film that most parents will consider patently too adult for their youngsters under 17. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not necessarily mean obscene or pornographic; in the oft-accepted or legal meaning of those words. The Board does not and cannot mark films with those words. These are legal terms for courts to decide. The reasons for the application of an NC-17 rating can be excessive violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other elements which, when present, most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.
For more information, visit the Film Ratings website.