Wednesday movie roundup – Dec. 22

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It’s that magical time of year when movies come out on Wednesday instead of Friday! It is a Christmas miracle. 

Among new wide releases, your best option is “True Grit,” the Coen brothers’ rip-roarin’ new adaptation of the 1968 novel. Jeff Bridges plays the role made famous by John Wayne, while newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is terrific as the girl looking for the man who killed her dad. 

Under no circumstances should you see “Little Fockers” (review at Cinematical), unless you enjoy sadness and pain. 

But check out the excellent “The King’s Speech” (review at Film.com), in limited release now and going wider on Christmas Day. It’s one of the most joyful movies I’ve seen in a while. You will love Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, this I promise you. 

(Oh, Jack Black is in a version of “Gulliver’s Travels” that opens on Christmas, but they only screened it in a handful of markets, in which Portland was not included. So, whatever.)

Now let’s talk about how “The King’s Speech” and “Little Fockers” are perfect examples of how the MPAA rating system is screwed up. “The King’s Speech” is rated R while “Little Fockers” is PG-13. But I suspect any parent who had seen both films would rather their children see “The King’s Speech” than “Little Fockers.”

The MPAA’s official designation — always very, very helpful and clear — is that “The King’s Speech” is rated R “for some language.” Specifically, after the speech therapist realizes the king doesn’t stammer when he’s swearing, he has him fire off a string of profanities as a means of loosening himself up. So there’s this barrage of F-bombs in one scene, and four or five more in a later scene, for the same reason. 

If it weren’t for that, this would be a PG film. You could show it at church. But because of the F-words, it’s rated R. Restricted. No children under 17 admitted without parent or guardian. 

Meanwhile, “Little Fockers” is rated PG-13 “for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content.”

This is one of the dirtiest PG-13 movies I’ve ever seen. It’s chock-full of vulgarity and sexual innuendo. An underwear-clad hot chick tries to seduce a married man. An old guy takes a Viagra-type pill and we see the evidence of it tenting his pajama pants. Then the old guy’s son-in-law, a nurse, gives him an injection in his penis to prevent permanent damage, just as the 5-year-old grandson walks in. A man and a woman give a hospital patient an enema, engaging in filthy double entendre all the while. 

But don’t worry! Nobody ever says the F-word! (Well, except for the million or so times that somebody says “Focker,” wink wink.) There are no actual naked bosoms or wieners, either. So it gets the PG-13, which “cautions” parents that some material might be inappropriate for preteens, but which doesn’t actually prevent children from seeing it. 

If you’re scoring along at home, “The King’s Speech” got the same rating as “Basic Instinct” and all seven “Saw” movies, while “Little Fockers” is under the same classification as “The Simpsons Movie” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Merry Christmas!

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Listen to “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” a weekly Internet radio show featuring Jeff Bayer and Eric D. Snider, at Cascadia.fm. It’s live at 11 a.m. (Pacific) every Friday, then downloadable as a podcast. Ignore the iTunes “explicit” tag; we always keep it PG.

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