When it comes to movie ratings, we are all familiar with the same letters: G, PG, PG-13, and R. These ratings serve as a notification for movie-goers so that we know the general level of maturity of the film. If the film is PG, sure, bring the kids. If it's R, leave the kids at home.
What you may not know is that the Catholic News Service has their own set of ratings in accordance to their own beliefs and morals. They have five different ratings, consisting of A-I (general patronage), A-II (adolescents and adults), A-III (adults), L (limited adult audience), and O (morally offensive).
While an L rating states that a very small adult audience should see the film, an O rating claims that the film shouldn't be seen at all. The following films are rated O by the USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting.
1 & 2. '21 Jump Street'/'22 Jump Street'
Though the buddy-cop dream-team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is now a popular comedy franchise, the vulgarity of 21 Jump Street and its sequel 22 Jump Street were not favored by the CNS.
22 Jump Street was criticized for "frequent gun and physical violence, much sexual humor, a drug theme, inadvertent narcotics use, a few instances of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language."
Those reasons are more than enough to score the film an R-rating, but the USCCB has bumped it up a step, assigning both movies an O.
Cloud Atlas is a mind-bending sci-fi thriller directed by the Wachowskis, which sticks amazing actors such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugo Weaving in several different stories taking place across the past, present, and future. The stories are all brilliant and they intertwine carefully, making it a spectacle to see.
The film scores an R-rating due to violence, language, and brief nudity. However, the film receives an O rating from the USCCB due to the homosexuality of a few of the characters and the debunking of a religion during one of the storylines. The religion is completely fictional, but according to the CNS, "it remains unclear whether the incident is intended as an attack on real-life religion."
In a world where the superhero community is largely led by DC and Marvel, director Matthew Vaughn gave us a breath of fresh air with Kick-Ass. The movie tells the tale of a teenage boy who decides to become a superhero after reading comics about them. He soon realizes that he isn't alone in his vigilante quest, and he soon is wrapped up in a super-world he never knew about.
The movie is understandably aimed towards adults with its mature content, and its O rating doesn't cut it any slack. Between gory violence and pervasive rough and crude language, its rating isn't the most surprising on this list.
Visionary director Guillermo Del Toro graced us with his latest masterpiece in the form of Crimson Peak last year. The film was hauntingly beautiful, and deserving of a lot more praise than it was given. The classically-themed gothic romance hit a lot of high notes, though the CNS was more focused on its low notes.
For those who haven't watched the movie, this may come off as a slight spoiler, but part of the film is built upon incest, which was more than likely a major red flag. Though the CNS review doesn't name incest directly, it does assign an O rating for "semi-graphic scenes of perverted sexual activity."
This one was more of a shock to me than most of the others on the list. Ex Machina is an incredible film, and one of the biggest surprise hits of 2015. With only three lead actors and a phenomenal script, the film tells an impressive story with an ending to keep fans thinking.
With the ending however, came a large amount of nudity. Though the majority of it was non-sexual, it was still enough to earn this incredible flick an O rating.
Director Ridley Scott is one of the most revered directors of our time with movies like Alien, Blade Runner, and The Martian under his belt. Though Prometheus wasn't his most well-loved film, it was still a fun and interesting movies that set up brand new franchise opportunities for the filmmaker.
The CNS review picks apart the film though, pointing at alcohol consumption, drug use, violence, vulgar language, and more. They save no mercy for Ridley Scott when they say: "We knew going in Ridley Scott was a shrewd commercial filmmaker rather than an auteur with great artistic ambition. Judging by "Prometheus," he's not a coherent cosmologist, either."
That seems a little harsh to the mastermind behind Gladiator.
The other movies on this list make more sense of why they are rated O, seeing as they have a MPAA rating of PG-13 or R, but a PG movie? What could the Jack Black-led Gulliver's Travels film have possibly done to receive such a harsh rating?
Well the movie is largely built on Gulliver's quest to win Darcy's affections, and he does so by lying and plagiarizing other people's work. By the end of the film, it's pretty clear that Gulliver's actions were morally wrong, but the CNS review is rather brutal towards his character.
"Although Darcy catches up with Gulliver's plagiarism, the deeply flawed moral takeaway remains intact: Theft and falsehood can be a path to achieving your dreams. That's a harmful lesson for children and an unwelcome message for adults."
I agree that falsehoods are wrong, but condemning a children's tale because of Jack Black's deceptive actions seems rather harsh.
Horrible Bosses 2
Similarly to 21 and 22 Jump Street, Horrible Bosses 2 was a hilarious comedy with a mature side that amused the general audience. The movie is packed full of laughs, often directed at violent and sexual themes.
The CNS review specifically mentions Jennifer Anniston's character, and how her "addiction to bed hopping is supposed to inspire laughs." Though one could make an argument that Anniston's scenes are some of the less humorous in the film, the review does have a bit of a point.
August: Osage County
This was an incredibly powerful movie for anyone who saw it. For those looking for a fun movie to watch with the family, I'd pick something more along the lines of The Princess Bride. August: Osage County deals with the many dramatic circumstances plaguing a poor family.
While the movie is certainly a journey with some phenomenal acting by actors like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Benedict Cumberbatch, the film is somewhat depressing. The CNS assigned an O rating because of a "relentlessly negative portrayal of family life." That's quite an accurate description.
Everyone's favorite katana-wielding chimichanga-fanatic was warmly welcomed when it hit theaters this past February, but it was in no way a kid's movie. It had violence, nudity, and profanity aplenty, so it's no surprise that the Catholic church wasn't all too fond of it.
The Catholic News Service review summed the film's mature content thoroughly: "The film contains skewed values, including a benign view of violent revenge, constant mayhem with extreme gore, strong sexual content including graphic premarital and aberrant activity as well as full nudity, a few uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language."
Let's face it: everybody loves Emma Stone. Whether you remember her from The Amazing Spider-Man or The Help, you doubtlessly remembered her playful charm and straightforward attitude, both of which were very present in Easy A.
The movie was fun and very indicative of contemporary high-school life, and that was part of the issue taken by the CNS review. Due to Stone's character, who masqueraded as a promiscuous teen, Easy A was rated O because of "a benign view of premarital sex and homosexuality."
Just to add to the list, the movie's script describes Christians in general as hypocrites, which is labeled as a "negative portrayal of Christianity, including Catholicism."
Compared to films on the list like Deadpool and 22 Jump Street, Limitless is pretty tame in comparison. Instead of a comedy based on mature and sexual themes, Limitless is an intellectual thriller based on a man who uses drugs to utilize all 100% of his mental capacity. The movie has little sexual content, mild language, and PG-13 violence, so what's the big deal here?
"Director Neil Burger and screenwriter Leslie Dixon trivialize their protagonist's actions as he blazes a trail of homicidal violence that entails no discernable consequences."
Ah, well that makes sense. In a quest to harness as many of these little pills as he can, the protagonist blasts through life on his own agenda, not caring about what is going to happen in response. That doesn't make him a very good role model.
Each of the movies on this list is pretty well-liked, so it is strangely enlightening to see CNS' take on these films. From superhero flicks, to raunchy comedies, to dramatic thrillers, there are many movies titled offensive by the Catholic church.