The top-6 most unnecessary IMDb parental warnings

As a father of two and a lover of stories, moving picture and otherwise, I enjoy watching flicks with my family—and not just family movies. But how do you know what’s okay to watch with your kids? It’s a line each parent has to draw, but first you need the facts, and that’s where IMDb.com’s parental guide pages come in.

Users post warnings in five categories: “sex & nudity”, “violence & gore”, “profanity”, “alcohol/drugs/smoking”, and “frightening/intense scenes”—and it has been helpful to me on occasion, but some movies either warn you with their title, or are so well-known that anyone who knows about IMDb.com also knows about the content of these movies.

But … there are still parental warnings. Just in case:

Machete Kills

“Countless severed heads bounce and roll around throughout the film.”

“Countless severed heads bounce and roll around throughout the film.”

If the title or cover art didn’t warn you, the tagline did. I’m guessing that the only people who ever visited the parental warning page for MACHETE KILLS were the IMDb webmaster, users who uploaded obvious content like the caption above, and me.

NOTE: There is not one mention of Sofía Vergara’s machine gun breasts, so that must be okay for the kids.

The Wolf of Wall Street

“Approximately 577 instances of the 'f' word.”

“Approximately 577 instances of the ‘f’ word.”

Okay, this one’s not so obvious, if you didn’t bother finding out anything about the movie other than looking at the poster and assuming it was an animal comedy in the vein of AIR BUD, but with a chimp for some reason despite the title. It’s directed by Martin Scorsese. And he likes the f-word. A lot.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“A man kills another man with a chainsaw. Some blood.”

“A man kills another man with a chainsaw. Some blood.”

Another movie that warns you with the title not to screen it with kids in the room. Take away ‘the’ and two of the remaining three words are not appropriate for children under any circumstances, and I’m not sure about ‘chainsaw’, either.

Up in Smoke

“This is a stoner movie.”

“This is a stoner movie.”

The full title is CHEECH & CHONG’S UP IN SMOKE. This is a comedy duo that built their entire schtick around smoking. Pot. Remember when everyone was up in arms about the smoking in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING? Old Gandalf ain’t got nothing on these guys. Or … maybe he does?

Cannibal Holocaust

“The middle finger is flipped towards the camera twice.”

That was the least inappropriate promotional image I could find for this movie, which, like others on this list, warns you with its very title: CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Just Googling those two words together lands you on a government watch list. (Hello, Agent Maclin!)

As one user says: “CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is often considered one of the most controversial, graphic, and disturbing films of all time.” If you pick this to watch with the kids, what’s wrong with you?

Debbie Does Dallas

“This is a hardcore pornographic film about high school girls raising money through prostitution.”

“This is a hardcore pornographic film about high school girls raising money through prostitution.”

Unless you are Louis Gossett, Jr.’s alien character from ENEMY MINE, everything about this movie warns you to keep the kids away, and unless you’ve been in a vegetative state since 1978, you should know it. For shame.

Bonus trivia: Robert Kerman, the guy who plays ‘Mr. Greenfield’ in DEBBIE DOES DALLAS also plays ‘Professor Harold Monroe’ in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, so I’m guessing that any kids he might have had didn’t have any idea how dad put food on the table … at least until he played the tugboat captain in SPIDER-MAN (2002).

Wholesome!

Don’t get me wrong. The parental warning pages at IMDb.com are useful for those borderline cases, or for making sure you’re renting WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE instead of WILD THINGS, but c’mon…

Christian A. Larsen is the author of LOSING TOUCH, featuring a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Piers Anthony, now available in paperback and ebook formats from Post Mortem Press.
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