What? 'Die Hard 4' rated PG-13?

June 21, 2007

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Check this shit out (Fig. 1). Bruce Willis teams up with the freakin' Mac Guy to stop the terrorists from making the horrible decision of buying Windows-based PCs to take over the country.

Well, it's official. "Live Free or Die Hard" has been rated PG-13. There was a time when I could not fathom a "Die Hard" movie without an R rating, but given today's climate, this PG-13 was inevitable. The first three "Die Hards" were released when studios actually put out R-rated action flicks. Now studios believe there is no such thing as an R-rated blockbuster (and everything in summer is positioned as a possible blockbuster), because you are denying too much of the all-important under-17 demographic. Now every would-be blockbuster is trimmed down to PG-13, even when they were born to be rated R.

If you look at the trailers for "Live Free or Die Hard," you can clearly see that this movie obviously has as much frenetic action and violence as the first three. Shit gets blowed up real good, and Bruce Willis as John McClane jumps through the usual mayhem. In terms of action, I suspect the only difference between this film and the first three will be in how much actual blood you will see. The MPAA has nothing against tons of action/violence as long as you don't actually see the gore. It's a matter of the material being slightly sanitized, and I'm sure in a lot of cases it's splitting hairs. "Live Free or Die Hard" has been advertised as "not yet rated" for a long time, so the studio has probably been carefully trimming and lobbying for the PG-13 the past few weeks. My guess is that this movie will be as close to R as PG-13 can get (in terms of violence, anyway).

And I don't have a problem with that. You can still make a kick-ass action flick with "PG-13 violence," because in my mind the success of the action is not necessarily in how graphic the violence is but in how clever the set pieces are and how taut the tension becomes. You can do clever and taut (and lots of explosions and vehicular mayhem) within the constraints of a PG-13. History (and virtually every summer action movie in the last decade) has shown that.

However, where I likely will have a problem with the PG-13 rating as it relates to "Die Hard" is the issue of profanity, which is much more cut-and-dried with the MPAA than violence is. In short, the f-word is virtually off-limits. The unwritten rule of a PG-13 is that you can only say "fuck" once in a PG-13 movie. Maybe twice. After that, you get an R. And I'm pretty sure you can't say the dreaded mf-word even once.

Which begs the question: What about John McClane's catchphrase? I'm going to guess it will be something along the lines of: "Yippee ki yay, motherf—[expletive interrupted by big explosion]."

I enjoy profanity. I like the f-word. Last weekend, Kathy and I saw "Knocked Up." It's a really good movie — sharp dialog, very funny, enjoyable, heartfelt ... and wonderfully profane. A PG-13 version of that movie would be a travesty. (There's a tirade, for example, unleashed by a woman upon a club doorman that's absolutely brilliant — in no small part because of the doorman's response to it — and it could not possibly have been PG-13. But I digress.)

The f-word has always been a part of John McClane's vocabulary. But apparently it will be vastly curtailed in "Live Free or Die Hard." And that's a shame. The dialog will have been watered-down for reasons of marketing.

Frankly, I'm amazed they made a fourth "Die Hard" at all. Bruce Willis is over 50 years old, and the franchise has been idle for 12 years. I can barely even fathom that Harrison Ford is finally doing another "Indiana Jones."

But, you know what? I love the "Die Hard" franchise and I will see "Live Free or Die Hard." PG-13 rating or not.

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9 comments on this post

    Oh man, I cannot fucking *wait* for this movie. I've been hoping for this since the credits rolled on Die Hard with a Vengeance way back in 1995. The lack of swearing and gore will suck, but I wouldn't bet against an 'unrated' DVD with all of the good stuff put back in. Normally, I hate the 'unrated' DVD's because there's never anything in there that's 'too extreme for theaters', but just stuff that's 'too extreme to be marketed to 15 year olds'. In this case, however, I will make an exception.

    As long as they do not go the TV route of hiring a third-rate impressionist to impersonate Bruce so the TV version says: "Yippee ki yay KEMO SABE" which just does not work. I wonder what PG-13 will translate to over here in England this time? Die Hard 2 was a 15 over here, but had a couple of very bad edits and bad dubs. But the BBFC has really lightened up recently, so maybe it will go for a 12? Of course, that would mean zero swearing, so hopefully a 15.

    Gosh darn, can't edit posts. oh well: So, I assume John McClane will not be smoking in this Die Hard film if your other "R-rated" article is anything to go by?

    ^ I hadn't considered that. There was no mention of smoking in the MPAA explanation for its rating of Die Hard 4, so perhaps that means by this movie McClane has given it up.

    If Stallone can make another Rocky movie why not let Willis make another Die Hard movie? Let's just hope the final closure is a good one. Did you know that Eddie Murpy is making another Beverly Hills Cop movie. I guess a lot of actor like to end their franchise with a good send off. I'm probably going to pass on Rambo 4.

    No no no, not another Beverly Hills Cop movie. 1&2 were just dandy, but 3 was a crime against humanity. Even George Lucas' cameo stank. (not sure what I meant by 'Even', Hmmmm). The buzz for Rambo4 isn't bad, but I'm not really a fan of the movies anyway. Hots Shots Par Deux took a more believable aproach to Rambo :)

    Saw Die Hard 4 last week, and have to say, the PG-13 rating does nothing to reduce the adrenaline or entertainment levels the movie delivers. The Mac Guy is hilarious (and he doesn't even use an iPhone!) as McClanes sidekick, and even if Bruce Willis tones down the character a bit, it fits with him being older and more worn down by his job. On a personal note I enjoyed this movie far more than most due to so much of it being filmed on location in my hometown of Baltimore, which for much of the movie is supposed to be D.C. (Although it plays itself in a couple scenes.) Seeing buildings and monuments that are so blatantly NOT in D.C. spliced with scenes of D.C. was a little awkward at times, but seeing Willis and the Mac Guy sit in traffic on Calvert St was just hilarious. Dumb villians, though.

    Not sure what you are getting at, that Die Hard needs profanity or that movies need profanity? Seriously, so many screenwriters these days think they can get a good script out when they include the f-word 4/5 times in each dialogue. Profanity has its good uses, I couldn't watch Goodfellas without it. But it's overused in movies, so I don't really mind if they cut it down to PG-13, especially because I think it must have made the movie more money and I want Die Hard 4 to succeed. I doubt they would have invested in it with an R-rating in mind. We may even get Die Hard 5 one day, so let's enjoy!

    "We may even get Die Hard 5 one day" I can see it now: Die Hard 5: Die Even Harderer Then Before! Detective John McLain totters into action in his zimmer frame as terrorists take over his retirement community. A non-stop adrenaline ride of thrills and action featuring emergency colostomy bag changes and mid-day naps. Is the terrorist threat actually a cover for the theft of $500Million worth of mashed carrots? Keep a look out for Ian McKellen as the token English guy playing a bad-German-guy as Hans Gruber's 32nd brother. Alternative film title: Die Hard 5: I've fallen and I can't get up.

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