10 Reasons "The Last Unicorn" Shouldn't Have Received a "G" Rating
"The Last Unicorn" is a family film from 1982. Don't let the year it was released fool you into thinking that it's "G" rating was merely a product of the times. "The Last Unicorn" is a story about a unicorn (Mia Farrow, "The Great Gatsby", "Rosemary's Baby") who protects a forest and the animals that live there. She learns that she may be the last unicorn alive, so she sets out to discover if this is the truth or if she can find any others of her kind on earth. While setting out on her mission she befriends a magician by the name of Schmendrick (Alan Arkin, "Edward Scissorhands", "Little Miss Sunshine"), a woman named Molly (Tammy Grimes, "High Art", "The Tammy Grimes Show") who had dreams of being like Maid Marion but ended up with a horrid fat bragger, and a prince (Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart", "The Big Lebowski"). It's a sweet little fantasy film --for the most part.
For a film that's rated "G" "The Last Unicorn" has some disturbing moments in it. While those moments wouldn't necessarily result in a "PG-13" or "R" rated movie, it definitely should have been rated "PG". It makes you wonder who they paid off to get this movie rated "G". Don't get me wrong I like "The Last Unicorn", as I'm a huge fan of the fantasy genre. It just is more "PG" seeming to me. It's far scarier than some "G" rated "Care Bears" movie.
Here are the ten reasons why "The Last Unicorn" was mis-rated and should be considered more of a "PG" film.
1.) The Harpy's Bare Breasts
The harpy in this movie literally has three droopy bare breasts. They're so saggy they move whenever she shifts side to side or flies overhead. While bare breasts themselves aren't horrifying the fact is the harpy is a really scary looking creature that also has three really horribly sagging breasts. It's disturbing to see and while little kids may not even notice them it seems really out of place in a "G" rated movie. It's like if a villain from another animated film had exposed breasts. Consider the Wicked Queen from "Snow White". If she had sagging or non-sagging breasts. It would inevitably be deemed highly inappropriate by movie goers.
2.) Mommy Fortuna Insanely Embracing Her Death
She doesn't run, she doesn't fight, she just stands there with her arms outstretch like she's about to receive the best birthday gift ever. It's not even a clean death. The Harpy literally eats her alive. The viewer doesn't actually witness the harpy eating her but the back of the harpy is shown when this happen and the sound of the harpy eating her is fully audible in all it's grotesqueness.
What's worse is earlier in the movie Madame Fortuna tells the unicorn she knew beforehand that the harpy would be the death of her, yet she doesn't try to kill the harpy before that or get rid of the harpy. She just says gleefully: "Oh I know she will be the death of me!"
3.) The Tree's Boobs
There's a scene where Schmendrick the magician gets tied to a tree by a band of thieves. The tree bizarrely comes to life and proceeds to smother him with her tree boobs. She proclaims her love for him for no known reason at all, unless getting tied to someone is enough for a tree to fall in love? It's as weird writing it as it is to say it.
This scene just really plays out as too suggestive and freaky to be rated "G". Saying "I love you" in a "G" rated movie is okay, but someone getting smothered by huge tree boobs doesn't fit at all for a "G" rating.
4.) Naked Unicorn Scene
After Schmendrick transforms the unicorn into the lady Amalthea to avoid the red bull killing her she lies on the ground out cold. She's also completely butt naked. The only thing covering her up are strategically placed pieces of hair. It seemed like a gratuitous scene that served no real purpose as they could have easily shown only her head and shoulders like in "The Little Mermaid" and Ariel is naked. No instead they show her whole form, lying on the ground with her butt somewhat visible, and her hair barely covering her up. In more recent edited versions of this scene her butt is more covered up, but it still leaves the viewer wondering that the motives of the animation team were kind of slimy when drawing Amalthea.
5.) Mild Cussing
In recent edited versions of "The Last Unicorn" the cussing was cut out, but in older versions of it the words damn and hell are said a few times. Again this seems like really weird language for a little kid's film. The video clip below is showing a scene where Prince Lir said: damn in a scene but he only mouths it in the video because it's from one of the edited versions. (he doesn't actually say the f word in that scene the way the video creator tried to claim that he did).
6.) The Red Bull is Horrifying
The villains in "The Last Unicorn" are intense. King Haggard (Christopher Lee, "Star Wars", "Lord of the Rings") is a complete sociopath. He has a weird fetish for collecting the unicorns of the world and imprisoning them against their will. His assistant in his dirty work: the red bull is absolutely horrifying. It's scarier than the villains in "The Corpse Bride", "Frozen", and "Shrek" which are all rated PG.
Why is it so frightening you ask?
Every time it's in a scene it's surrounded by red fire and light. With the red coloring and the horns it looks like a satanic demon. And it's bent on destroying the sweet, kindly unicorn, so it definitely doesn't win any points in popularity for that.
There's been quite a few absolutely terrifying kid movie villains but it seems like they're usually in films rated "PG".
7.) Talking Alcoholic Skeleton
While he's funny, the talking alcoholic skeleton is also pretty gruesome for little kids. I mean he's a talking skeleton who works for the bad guy (kind of)! "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is rated "PG" and has a talking skeleton in it, but he's the main protagonist who makes some bad decisions but isn't really a bad guy. Jack Skellington also wasn't a lush! And while Jack is drawn somewhat cutesy and friendly the skeleton in "The Last Unicorn" is drawn like a realistic skeleton. Also he's never really explained. Why did he come to be lurking around their castle? Why can he talk? Who is he and why does he care about telling King Haggard that Amalthea is a unicorn? That skeleton from "The Last Unicorn" is cool but ultimately it's kind of weird in a little kid's film.
8.) Strange Mutilated Cat
The cat that Molly talks to who tells her that Amalthea has to be careful or she'll become fully human soon is mutilated. Again it like the skeleton his backstory isn't explained. Why does he live with Lir and Haggard? Why is he mutilated? It's implied he's a pirate cat because he talks like a pirate, but why would a cat be a pirate? It's downright weird that the cat is missing an eye and a leg and enjoys telling stories to Molly but he doesn't want to tell her a story about his missing limb and eye? Did Haggard chop him up? Did Haggard pity him and allow him to stay at his castle because of his wounds? Did Lir pity the cat and allow him to stay?
Notice that the cat disappears basically after it talks to Molly. Did it stay at Haggard's castle? Did it leave with Lir or Molly? It just seems like the cat could have been fleshed out more. Although he really doesn't have any flesh to spare with that peg leg of his. Fun character but small children probably will wonder about his injuries and why he disappears at the end.
9.) Mary Jane Referencing Butterfly
The butterfly in "The Last Unicorn" is either over caffeinated or on crack because it just refused to shut up. It flies around like mad, talks nonstop in riddles and poems and strangely says Mary Jane in part of it's dialogue of random rambling. Um.,,, yeah interesting thing to put in a weird druggie acting butterfly's speech in a film aimed at kids? Not.
10.) Unhappily Ever After Ending
The ending was alright but it was kind of melancholic. The unicorn and Lir don't really get a great goodbye scene between the two of them. (although truly their relationship is a bit forced and their singing duet is cringe worthy, although not as bad as Mia Farrow's solo which just sounds atrocious and reminds me of the creepy "Rosemary's Baby" lullaby song) I guess I assumed that because Hagard so randomly adopted him that Lir was secretly another unicorn that was transformed into a man somehow and he forgot all his memories. I mean the way Lir tells Amalthea that he "sensed" where they'd gone seemed to indicate he had some kind of unicorn sense?
I mean it's a somewhat happy ending that the unicorns are returned to the world and the main unicorn makes it back home to her forest. But Lir and her ending was sad. You just wish Lir could have been turned into a unicorn and lived with her, or that they could at least have had a better goodbye scene. I think for little kids the fact that the unicorn and Lir have some kind of connected relationship, begin to get along, and then break apart without even a decent good bye is a little too complex. Since the movie is aimed at little kids it may have been better for the script writers to just write that Lir and Amalthea became good friends after a while and then couldn't be friends anymore after she transformed back into a unicorn.