MPAA Movie Ratings Guide for Parents In USA

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) employs a film-rating system in the United States and its territories to assess a film’s appropriateness for specific audiences, considering its content.

MPAA offers five distinct ratings: G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17.

Do you prefer a particular MPAA film rating when selecting a movie to watch?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) oversees the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), responsible for rating films. The board of CARA consists of 8 to 13 members chosen by the MPAA President and funded by film distributors and producers. The board members are selected from U.S. society and must meet the qualifications of having a “parenthood experience” and possessing an “intelligent maturity” according to the MPAA website. The board members meet in Los Angeles, California, and apply film ratings based on their content below.

MPAA Movie Ratings Guide for Parents In USA

RatingDescription
GGeneral Audiences. All ages admitted.
PGRestricted. Under 17 requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian.
PG-13Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
RRestricted. Under 17 requires an accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17No one 17 and under admitted.

The MPAA ratings are as follows: G (General Audiences), PG (Parental Guidance Suggested), PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned), R (Restricted), and NC-17 (No one 17 and under admitted). These ratings are voluntary and not bound by any legislation, but many theaters and theatrical chains have policies that require films to be rated by the MPAA. Additionally, member companies of the MPAA, including Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony/Columbia Tristar, MGM, Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros, have good incentive to submit all of their releases for ratings.

The MPAA ratings appear on home video titles released in the U.S., but DVD releases retain the identical rating for each movie for its theatrical release. This means that the MPAA ratings on video releases do not consider extra features. Furthermore, if the main film has been altered, such as a special “Directors Edition,” the film will revert back to “Unrated” status when it is sold on home video formats.

The voluntary nature of the American movie rating system is an important difference between the MPAA and movie rating boards of many other countries. However, the increasing threat by U.S. lawmakers to put legislation in place if the industry cannot regulate itself is an incentive for the motion picture industry to keep its own policing efforts in force. The MPAA can be contacted through their website or by phone.