Christian Movie Interviews, News and Reviews

4 Reasons Unplanned Should Not Be Rated R

4 Reasons <em>Unplanned</em> Should Not Be Rated R

More than 10 years ago, the faith-based movie Facing the Giants gained national headlines due to a controversy over its PG rating. It was free publicity that helped propel it to become a box office hit.

A similar controversy is now brewing over a new faith-themed film, Unplanned, that got an R rating when its supporters expected a PG-13. It releases in theaters March 29.

Unplanned tells the story of Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director who changed her mind about the issue after watching an abortion in her clinic. She became a pro-life leader.

The MPAA’s ratings board gave it an R rating last month for “some disturbing/bloody images” -- a rating that was unexpected when comparing its content to other movies rated R and PG-13.

Shawn Carney, president of the pro-life 40 Days for Life and a person instrumental in Johnson’s switch, said he likes “the fact that it’s rated R” because it “gives credibility to the topic.” Abortion, after all, is disturbing, bloody and violent.

“That said, of course the MPAA is just trying to deter the Christian base from going to see the movie,” said Carney, who is portrayed in the film.

Similar to the debate over Facing the Giants -- which apparently got a PG due to its Gospel message -- the controversy over Unplanned could benefit the film.

Here are four reasons Unplanned doesn’t deserve an R rating:

Photo courtesy: PureFlix

1. The Violence Doesn’t Warrant an R

1. The Violence Doesn’t Warrant an R

I screened Unplanned. I also watch multiple movies each week. Let me put it this way: If Unplanneddeserves an R, then so does virtually every PG-13 action adventure, thriller and superhero movie from the past decade. That’s because it contains less violence and disturbing content than hundreds of such films that have garnered a lesser rating.

Yes, Unplanned is disturbing, but not to an R-rated level. The film doesn’t show us every detail of an abortion, and we’re not staring at the woman’s birth canal. Instead, we’re in the room watching a computer monitor. We see a tiny baby on the screen. Then we see an instrument. Seconds later, the baby on the screen is gone. Disturbing? Yes. R rated? Not compared to other films. In another scene, a woman who has undergone a chemical abortion stands in a shower. She’s bleeding from the abortion, but she’s fully dressed. 

Compare this to the 2016 movie Split, which earned a PG-13 and showed a cannibalistic man literally eating a woman’s flesh. (We saw her disemboweled dead body.) Or its sequel, Glass, which was PG-13 and showed a man slitting another man’s throat.

Perhaps the ratings board members truly did think Unplanneddeserved an R. Perhaps they were disturbed. Or perhaps the board slapped an R on it, hoping fewer people would watch.

Photo courtesy: PureFlix

2. The Other Content is PG-Worthy

2. The Other Content is PG-Worthy

The Oscar-winning movie Green Book (2018) was rated PG-13 and contained more than 70 coarse words. The action film Live Free or Die Hard (2007), also PG-13, had about 100.

And Unplanned? It has five: h-ll (2), d---it (2) and a-- (1). The film also contains no sexuality or nudity. (Unlike, say, the 1997 film and PG-13-rated Titanic, which had all of the above.)  

Carney said the R-rating may attract moviegoers who otherwise would not have been interested. 

“I’m wondering if we are going to snag that movie-going audience that we wouldn't have snagged, because some college kids only go to rated R movies,” he told Crosswalk.

Photo courtesy: PureFlix

3. Every Marvel Movie Is Worse

3. Every Marvel Movie Is Worse

I would be comfortable letting my tween-aged son watch Unplanned, but I would not want him watching every PG-13 Marvel movie that has been made. That’s because PG-13 Marvel films contain more violence and disturbing content than Unplanned.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) contained instances of torture and impaling. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) showed demonic-like creatures chasing the good guys and a person losing his eye. Black Panther (2018) included so many stabbings, gunfights and UFC-type fisticuffs that I squirmed in my seat a few times. 

I love Marvel movies. But they’re more violent than Unplanned.

Carney said the R rating should not deter families from seeing Unplanned, because it’s not a typical R film. 

“You can take teenagers to see Unplanned,” he said. “It's a very uplifting, beautiful convergent story.”

Photo courtesy: PureFlix

4. Broadcast Television Is Worse, Too

4. Broadcast Television Is Worse, Too

I was a big fan of ABC’s 24, which ran from 2001 through 2014. But the exploits of Jack Bauer – despite the TV-14 rating – were worse than what I saw in Unplanned. He tortured people. He shot and killed far more. Once, he even cut off a person’s hand to save him from certain death. (Perhaps it was needed, but it was still gross.) 

Which brings me back to Unplanned. The film’s on-screen violence is far tamer than anything Jack Bauer did. But, somehow, it got an R. 

Of course, if Unplanneddid show an abortion, from beginning to end – the inserting of instruments up the birth canal, the extraction of a bloody arm and leg – it would warrant an R rating. But it doesn’t.

It contains just enough disturbing content to impact you, but not so much that you’ll want to leave the theater.  

“I think that people who support abortion and see Unplannedwill have perhaps their first inclination that they should not support abortion,” Carney said. “And I think that the pro-life people who see Unplanned, many of them will have the first inclination that abortion can and will end. And that's the takeaway. It's that powerful of a movie.”

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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

Photo courtesy: PureFlix