Murder on the Orient Express, Snowman, The Star, Tully and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

By Chris Kavan - 09/27/17 at 03:18 PM CT

The most impressive update in quite awhile from the MPAA board gives me plenty to talk about: a remake of a classic whodunnit, a new, twisted serial killer thriller, an uplifting animated feature and a future comedy about a harried mother and her new nanny. All told, not a bad haul at all - I guess with September breaking all kind of box office records, maybe the film board is ready to step up their game as well. Four is a nice, even number - I could do this for a few weeks in a row.

MPAA Official Logo

There is always a bit of danger going in to a remake. Even moreso when the story you are telling is not only already a great film, but a novel as well. Based on Agatha Christie's classic mystery, Murder on the Orient Express has already resulted in one great film, the brilliant 1974 adaptation from Sidney Lumet. But Kenneth Branagh is doubling down, not only directing the new version, but also starring as the greatest living detective himself, Hercule Poirot. Branagh has certainly put together an impressive cast - Johnny Depp (the victim), Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Lucy Boynton and Marwan Kenzari play the main characters in a diverse cast of well-to-do strangers who all find themselves as suspects in a murder mystery. Poirot must put all his knowledge and wits to the test if his is to identify the guilty party... before another murder takes place. While the cast looks amazing, this will bring in a much more adult cast - who does tend to support a movie over time, but I don't see this breaking out in to blockbuster numbers. Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.

September has been the month that horror fans have been waiting for - and the offerings are not slowing down. While It is certainly in class all of its own, plenty more films are coming along (Flatliners, Happy Death Day) to hopefully chill audiences to the bone. But none may be quite as chilling as The Snowman. No, this is not about some demonic, possessed Frosty - rather it follows a pair of detectives, Harry Hole and Katrine Bratt (Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson) who are on the hunt for a deadly serial killer, one who dismembers women he finds lacking in virtue, when the first snow falls. This is not the first time the killer has struck, and both realize they have a limited time to catch him before he strikes again, even as they risk their own lives to bring him down as they get caught up in his twisted plans. Co-stars Chlo√ę Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Val Kilmer, James D'Arcy, Toby Jones and Charlotte Gainsbourg, among others. This one looks pretty brutal and not at all afraid to embrace its dark side. This one may be a bit too dark for general audiences, but color me intrigued. Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity. .

From dark, brooding and violent to uplifting, spiritual and totally cheesy - that is The Star. The story follows a group of animals who are either trying to break free from normality including Bo (Steven Yeun), an undersized donkey, Ruth ( Aidy Bryant), a sheep without a flock and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), a dove who wants to fly above the rest. They just so happen to run into a trio of wise-cracking camels and some other eccentric animals who are all following the same star - and this motley crew will be responsible for saving the first Christmas. The cast includes some big names: Kristin Chenoweth, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Christopher Plummer, Kris Kristofferson, Tracy Morgan, Anthony Anderson, Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez but I can't help but feel all the star power in the world isn't going to make me want to watch this. While it doesn't feel like they're going to work the religious angle that much - it's there and it has me reluctant to give it a shot. Animation tends to go well with families and if you can bring in the Christian crowd, all the better. I'm sure it will do just fine, it's just not for me. Rated PG for some thematic elements.

Our final big entry is still quite a ways off, as we'll have to wait until spring of 2018 to check out Tully. The film stars Charlize Theron as a mother of three who is decidedly overworked and under-appreciated. But a when her brother gives her an extravagant gift in the form of a night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis), she forms a bond with the quirky and sometimes challenging young charge. Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston and Elaine Tan round out the cast. I'm sure this comedy will tackle plenty of motherhood tropes, but if anyone can elevate the material, it's the always welcome Theron (who looks to dial things down a bit after the one-two punch of Mad Max and Atomic Blonde). Still, this screams girls night out to me. Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity.

A nice lineup this week, but be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:


Rated R for disturbing violent content, language throughout, crude sexual references, drug and alcohol use - all involving teens.


Rated PG-13 for thematic material including some violent images. (RATING PENDING APPEAL)


Rated PG-13 for thematic content, smoking and some language.


Rated PG for some thematic elements.


Rated PG-13 for language, suggestive material and brief violence.


Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.


Rated R for strong horror violence and gore, language and brief sexuality.


Rated PG-13 for sexual references, language, teen partying and thematic material.


Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action.


Rated R for grisly images, violence, some language, sexuality and brief nudity.


Rated R for language, some strong sexual content, and brief violence.


Rated PG for some thematic elements.


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


Rated R for disturbing violent content including sexual assaults, language, and some drug use.


Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity.


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