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Young Messiah, I Saw the Light and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

View Chris Kavan's Profile

By Chris Kavan - 10/14/15 at 11:32 AM CT

After a veritable avalanche of ratings updates last week, things are calming back down. There are only two releases - one major and one limited (that could expand) film. Both films are heavy on the dramatics - one is a straight-up biography of a country music legend, the other is also a biography of sorts - a dramatic representation of the early life of a boy who would one day grow up to be a man called Jesus. I have a feeling both films are sure to touch a few nerves, you can't exactly have a biopic of Christ without either pandering to or ticking off the religious audience. And a beloved music star? You know to be compelling you're going to have to present his good side along with his demons (ala Walk the Line) to get things done right.

MPAA Official Logo

First up is our Jesus Christ film The Young Messiah. Unlike so many other films that focus on the later life (and often death) of Jesus, Young Messiah (as the title suggests) is going to follow him as a 7-year-old - as his family escapes Egypt to return to Nazareth, hoping to escape the slaughter of children by King Herod. With Herod dead, they think they are safe, but his son is more than happy to complete his father's vision. Much of the film revolves around the young Jesus coming to grips with his religious identity. Obviously the subject of such a great religious figure will draw attention - and this is one film that is going to rise or fall based on how it can court its religious audience - and if it is compelling enough to draw in a more mainstream crowd. When it comes to religious films I prefer big, bold and strong - think The Ten Commandants, Ben-Hur and, yes, even The Passion of the Christ. I don't like films that seem to be more religious exploitation - God's Not Dead, War Room and their ilk. This, I think, won't be as bad as the latter but may not be as good as the former. The Young Messiah is rated PG-13 for some violence, disturbing images and thematic elements.

Coming out in limited release, possibly to be expanded in the future, is the Hank Williams biography I Saw the Light. Tom Hiddleston plays the country music icon while Elizabeth Olsen plays his wife. Supporting cast includes David Krumholtz, Bradley Whitford, Cherry Jones and Maddie Hasson. Music biopics have become something of a hot commodity in the past few year - films like Ray, Walk the Line and even going back to Coal Miner's Daughter - these are films that gain acclaim and, often, big awards. I Saw the Light is coming out in prime awards-season territory - November 27th - and choosing Hank Williams as the subject is a good choice. The man was one of the most major influences on country music, he died young and (even though it's a trope - it's an all too real one) he dealt with drug and alcohol abuse that significantly affected his personal life and career and were a factor in his death. This is powerful stuff and exactly the kind of story critics (and hopefully audiences) can get behind.

The complete ratings bulletin is below:


Rated R for language including sexual references, and for drug use.


Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and drug use.


Rated PG-13 for suggestive material and violent images.


Rated PG-13 for violence and peril.


Rated R for some language and brief sexuality/nudity.


Rated R for violence throughout and language.


Rated R for language and brief graphic nudity.


Rated R for drug use, language, some sexuality and violence.


Rated PG-13 for some violence, disturbing images and thematic elements.


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