Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Swear Dog: 'Rock Dog' Gets a PG for "Language"
The PG rating, as I've said before, is pretty much slapped onto every current animated movie. Even the kiddiest piece of shovelware gets the rating, for something vague like "rude humor" or "crude humor". "Thematic elements" is the other magnet, it seems. I'd argue 90% of them don't deserve that rating, maybe because I come from a time when most PG movies actually EARNED their rating.
This year, interestingly enough, doesn't have a single G-rated animated film. Or a G-rated wide release, outside of a couple little documentaries. Others are picking up on this, too. Doug Walker, through his Nostalgia Critic character, talked about this in a recent editorial. Some articles pop up here and there...
Now, one new rating caught my eye yesterday. It was the rating for Rock Dog, the Chinese-American animated film that came out in China a few months back. Lionsgate is releasing it here in February, and the rating reason was quite... Rare for a modern PG-rated animated movie: Action and language.
When's the last a big-time animated movie got a PG for language? Rango? The Lorax? Rango had a few "damns" and non-religious "hells". I don't remember the villain saying "damn" in The Lorax, like at all. Other animated family movies, even the more sophisticated ones, decide to be a little more... Erm. Responsible? So that means you're left with subtle jokes that would be unsuitable for young'uns if spelled out, and little innuendos like that. So Rock Dog has language. Like actual, full-on swearing.
But it's PG-level swearing, so we probably won't get anything worse than "damn", "ass", or "hell". Still, it's rather interesting to see an animated family film sport some swearing. It's been a no-no in the post-Code days for the most part, particularly for Disney Animation and Pixar. Some films like Titan A.E. snuck some in, in the 1980s you had some things like The Secret of NIMH and The Transformers: The Movie (which got away with a "shit" in a post-PG-13 PG). DreamWorks got a few in with things like Shrek, but later just opted for the usual "goes over the kids' heads" jokes. Being a story about a dog making it big in the rock star world, the language probably won't feel out of place.
Of course, a few little "bad" words here and there don't automatically make an animated movie mature or "adult". The Lorax may have a "damn" in it, but it's hardly a "mature" movie when everything else in it plays to level of a 6-year-old. Rango on the other hand is mature because of the storytelling, the themes, and the execution of it all, so the few little words fit into the script quite nicely. I still find it interesting that this little picture is the one to actually include this kind of thing in a day and age where language is still mostly untouched by these films.
The big question, though... Will it feel tacked on? Or will it work?