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Keanu, Legend of Tarzan, Birth of a Nation, Criminal and more in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

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By Chris Kavan - 03/30/16 at 08:55 AM CT

After several weeks of crumbs and a smattering of ratings it looks like this is the week the board let the dam loose. There are several high-profile films getting their due including a crime comedy featuring a kidnapped kitten, a reboot of everyone's favorite swinging jungle-dweller, a dramatic rebellion, a mind-swapping action film and a vacation filled with memories... and horror! That's a lot to digest, but I'm happy that I get to look at more than one or two movies for once. Let's hope we can continue along these lines in the weeks ahead.

MPAA Official Logo

Coming in first this week has to be the Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele crime/comedy Keanu. The film stars an adorable kitten who is cat-napped by a gang and in order to retrieve the bundle of cuteness, the duo pose as drug dealers. I'm guessing based on the trailers, nothing goes right. The film co-stars Will Forte, Nia Long, Luis Guzmán, Jason Mitchell, Method Man and Rob Huebel. No word on if a different Keanu will make a cameo, but if he does, I hope it's as John Wick. Anyway, this does look highly entertaining, and while I may not catch it in theaters, I still look forward to watching this one day. For all the fun and games you get an R rating for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity.

We have already had one not-so-well received animated Tarzan film starring Kellan Lutz that pretty much got no attention last year. Now things are heating up again in the form of The Legend of Tarzan. This one is quite different in that it's live action and follows a refined Tarzan in London who is called by to life in the wild when a mining operation threatens the land. Alexander Skarsgård takes on the title role with the beautiful Margot Robbie portraying Jane and Christoph Waltz playing the villain. Also along for the rise are Samuel L. Jackson, John Hurt, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent and Ella Purnell. The setup definitely sets this apart from most adaptations and we'll see if that's enough to spur audiences into theaters. I think I'll keep this one on the back-burner to watch, but I'm not overly-enthused by the proposition. The ape man gets a PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue (hopefully all involving apes... a sensual, rude ape).

On the other hand, Criminal has a premise that clearly puts it into the category of "so bad it must be good, right?" It's kind of like Face/Off but internally without actually switching faces. In this case the mind of a master CIA agent is implanted into a dangerous criminal and things just go downhill from there. Kevin Costner, red-hot Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve and Michael Pitt all star in this wacky setup that I am sure is totally going to be scientifically accurate and believable. Oh, who am I kidding? This is pure action fun with crime and drama thrown in for good measure. Rated for strong violence and language throughout.

Don't worry, there is one serious film this week that could very well be up for some major awards. That would be Nate Parker's full-length feature directorial debut with The Birth of a Nation - an account of the uprising by a former slave, Nat Turner. Turner's Rebellion was the most violent uprising on record - and the reprisal equally as brutal. It will be interesting to see the take on this oft-overlooked moment in history. Considering its release date in October, I'm guessing this is going to be prime for awards season and we'll see if this one gets Hollywood's attention. Rated R for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity.

We end our lovely tour today with the lone horror film, The Darkness. Wherein a trip to the Grand Canyon results in a somewhat strange boy (David Mazouz) bringing back a Native American artifact that should have been left alone. Soon his parents (Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell) and sister (Lucy Fry) are being tormented by these ancient spirits who, of course, want to cause harm (and leave dirty handprints everywhere - the maid must be furious). It's from Blumhouse, so I'm expecting this to be halfway decent, but it takes a very good horror film to get me into theaters and this one doesn't look quite good enough for that. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some disturbing violence, brief sensuality and language.

That's the impressive lineup for this week, but make sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:


Rated G


Rated R for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity.


Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some disturbing violence, brief sensuality and language.


Rated PG for thematic material, some language including a rude gesture and brief smoking.


Rated R for strong bloody violence, sexuality/nudity, language throughout and some drug use.


Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.


Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.


Rated R for language, sexuality, some violence and nudity.


Rated R for horror violence, terror and language.


Rated PG-13 for some rude and suggestive humor.


Rated R for language and some disturbing content.


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