The Canadian Motion Picture Ratings System is Seriously Flawed

When my family and I go to the movies, I’m usually pretty good at judging if the films are appropriate for my kids.  However, last night was an eye opener.  Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Ready Player One.

So, my wife and I loved the book.  When we watched the new “Dreamer” trailer we were completely sold on seeing the new film opening night.  Eager to take our kids to see it (we have a five year old and eight year old who love video games), we were holding out on an official rating (I was wary of the infamous “sex doll” showing up in the movie).  We checked the Cineplex website (we live in Ontario, Canada) and low and behold, it was rated PG!  The Marvel films have a PG rating, seems like Ready Player One would be appropriate to take our kids.  Yes, there’s violence and adult themes in Marvel movies, but they’re your typical action movie, nothing too crazy.  Tons of young kids go to see the Marvel movies and don’t leave with scarred brains.  Pete’s Dragon was rated PG.  We’re good!

A day before Ready Player One was to release, our five year old decided he didn’t want to go anymore (hanging out with his cousin sounded way cooler) so my wife, daughter and I bought our tickets online.

The film begins and there’s some really great action sequences.  There’s one scene where a chest burster from Aliens pops out of someone, but it’s mostly for laughs.  Our daughter jumped, but brushed it off.  Then came the hunt for the second key.  If you’re unfamiliar with the story, there’s a virtual world called The Oasis where people spend their days.  The creator of The Oasis has left three keys for players to find, and when the final door is unlocked, they gain complete control of The Oasis.  The catch is, in order to get these keys you have to go through a difficult challenge for each one.  In the novel, to unlock the second key, players have to follow along with the film War Games, replacing Matthew Broderick’s role.  In the film version, which is rated PG in Ontario, the players are tasked with going through the film The Shining….







The sequence from Ready Player One comes complete with gross old lady from room 237, skin falling off, chasing everyone with an axe, blood coming out of the elevator, the whole shebang……




In Quebec, Ready Player One is rated G



I mean, I’m not gonna lie, the Shining scene in Ready Player One was fantastic and well done, but it was not something that should be in a PG rated movie.  We had to leave because our daughter was too scared to watch anymore of it.  My brother who was there with us and his friends texted me later mentioning they say ‘fuck’ in the film at one point.  You’re telling me my five year old could go in and watch Ready Player One with his buddies without me?  Now that we know this, tell me the Canadian Ratings System isn’t completely fucked up.  This film should have easily been rated 14A.  A rating of 14A would have made me check into it a little more and make the correct choice, which would have been to leave our daughter at her aunt and uncle’s with her brother.

If you’re going to have a ratings system in place, it needs to be stronger.  I know the film studios want all the money they can possibly get, but we have a ratings system for a reason.  I don’t understand how someone on the Ontario ratings board watching Ready Player One would think it’s ok for anyone under 14.  I guess I’m going to have to go watch the PG rated Pete’s Dragon sequel before I take my children to find out whether or not Jack Nicholson from The Shining is going to show up in it (the greatest cross over of all time if you ask me).

A friend told us about a site we had never heard of called Common Sense Media.  It’s really descriptive and informative with their reviews for movies, and we will absolutely be checking it every time we go to watch something.  Our decision to take our daughter would have changed had we read the description for Ready Player One on that site, as opposed to the Ontario PG description: violence, language may offend. 

Yep, that’s an understatement. – NVJ


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