Top 10 Favorite F-Bombs in a PG-13 Movie
Ah, the f-word. Do we have as much fascination with any other word? It seems to be the one word that is socially acceptable to use but still taboo. As George Carlin's list of seven words you can't say on TV becomes marginally shorter, the f-word remains off-limits even on profanity-laden shows such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
When people think R-rated language, the F-word is probably what comes to mind. As a matter of fact, a small number of films have received an R-rating on the basis of foul language. While violent films such as Red Dawn and the Dark Knight have gotten away with PG-13's, relatively tame films such as The Blues Brothers, Planes Trains and Automobiles; and even The King's Speech were given R-ratings simply because they dropped a few F-bombs. (Fun fact: In other countries, The King's Speech walked away with their equivalent of PG-13 because the language was used therapeutically.) However, the MPAA arbitrarily decided that a movie can use the word a few times before they cross over into R-territory. Many movies take advantage of this. Often - even in movies I like - it feels gratuitous, as if the filmmakers wanted to make something raunchier but knew they had to achieve a certain rating. However, there are many instances where the filmmakers know they can only use it once and take full advantage and make something memorable. So for this article I am counting down my personal favorite uses of the F-word in PG-13 movies. (Also because of the few movies that have gotten away with it, PG movies count too.)
10. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is one of those rare movies that does in fact use the f-word more than once. (Lt. Dan uses it while being ambushed in Vietnam - understandable.) However, when people think of the word being used in Forrest Gump, one example stands out. When seeing Abbie Hoffman speak in Washington DC, he riles up the crowd by asking Forrest to speak about his experience during "the war in Viet-f@#$ing-Nam." The scene is a perfect example of Forrest's interaction to the world around him. Gump grew up in a conservative, church-going household and is not only surprised to hear profanity used so casually but Forrest also believes that the crowd is reacting to the word rather than Hoffman's message. The tone is also sweetly nonjudgmental - Forrest hears the word, he sees how these people behave, but the movie never says one way of life is better than the other - just a man passing through time.
9. Billy Madison
Naturally, there had to be a few on the list that made it just for the sake of being a funny line. After hearing a children's about a lost puppy, Billy is so perplexed about the kid in the story being so passive about his missing puppy that he rants about what the kid should have done, concluding with the famous line "You get your a@# out there and you find your f%#@ing dog!" It's debatable whether or not the line would have been funny without the swearing, but it does help that the teacher's reaction only makes it funnier. She is pretty nonplussed by hearing such language in a kindergarten class.
8. X-Men: First Class
On face value, just telling someone to FO, may not seem like that great a use of the f-word, but what made it special was the fact that it was a cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I'm a firm believer that if you're only going to use the word once, you might as well make it special, and attaching it to the biggest cameo in the movie is pretty special (akin to how the only person who speaks in Mel Brooks's Silent Movie is a famous mime). Case in point, Days of Future Past - while a great movie - used the f-word in a similar manner. It made sense in the context of the movie but didn't get the same reaction as Wolverine randomly appearing just to drop it.
7. The Wedding Singer
This is a great example of how what is said is less important than how it is said. Robbie Hart wrote a song about his ex-fiancee in two parts - one part while they were going out and the other part after she unceremoniously dumped him at the altar. After starting off with what sounds like a sweet song, Robbie makes no bones about his feelings when he announces that everything before was bulls@#$. The movie has typical PG-13 language so hearing this normally sweet guy drop an F-bomb emphasizes just how bitter he is about the situation. What also makes this scene funny is Julia's reaction. When the song is softer and Robbie sings about love and sadness, she seems empathetic. But as the song turns into a loud plea for death, her reaction changes - almost as if she compliments him out of fear of what he would do otherwise.
Sidenote: This scene has an amusing TV edit where microphone feedback is dubbed over the bad language.
6. The 6th Day
This movie was made at a time when action movies were transitioning away from R-rated fair and were gearing more toward PG-13 films. But keeping up with their former spirit, there had to be one f-bomb in there somewhere. The film is all about cloning, and in one scene Arnold tells the villain that he should have his own clone so he can go f@#$ himself. How do I love that line? Let me count the ways: First of all, it is such an obvious joke. This is one of those instances where NOT going for the obvious joke would have been the been the bigger offense. Also, I gave you the short version of the joke. In the actual film, the joke is built up a lot more, only making it funnier that they belabor the joke that much. An overly dragged out joke that leads to an all-too-obvious punchline creates the perfect storm for a hilarious line. I want to call it so bad it's good, but I am enjoying it the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
5. Catch Me if You Can
It's funny that back-to-back choices essentially use the same phrase. While it was funny how obvious the joke was in The 6th Day, much of the humor in this line is how out of the blue the use of the f-word is. Stealing scenes from Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abignale is no small task, but Tom Hanks is hilarious as the milquetoast agent who hunts him, making him the perfect foil for DiCaprio's charismatic womanizer. Hearing such a wimpy character drop the f-bomb might earn a laugh or two on its own, but the delivery puts it over the top. He sets up a knock-knock joke with the punchline being him telling a fellow agent to go "fudge" himself. (Only he didn't say fudge.) Tom Hanks also builds up the joke by pausing and thinking in between setup and punchline - leaving the audience to determine if he just thought that up or had to work up the courage to swear. This line also circles back to the joke, but does so more effectively. A scene ends with Hanks telling someone "knock, knock." Since we already know the punchline, we can fill in the blanks ourselves.
Admittedly, this one is kind of borderline. True, the theatrical cut only featured the F-Dash-Dash-Dash word once and received a PG-13. However, the unrated version has probably been seen by more people as it is readily available (As a matter of fact, it is the only version I have seen). Still, this does deserve mentioning for its original use which was not only funny, but the only use on this list that was actually integral to the plot. In many instances, the character uses the f-bomb in a fit of rage, but in this case, Ron Burgandy is tricked into saying "go F--- yourself, San Diego" (Three in a row!) live on the air. Veronica was taking advantage of the fact that Ron reads anything on the teleprompter unconditionally. This leads to Ron losing his job because of outraged viewers. In the unrated version, the joke is made funnier when Ron contends that he would never use the f-word by repeatedly using it. However, the film aimed for a PG-13 to protect the virgin ears of youngsters from such profanity... that they already heard by that point.
3. Be Cool
Be Cool is far from a great movie, but it does have its moments. Hands down the funniest moment in the movie is a meta-joke about profanity in movies. The movie movie begins with Chili bemoaning his problems with the film industry to a friend. First he laments his disdain for sequels (ho, ho!) then gripes about how you can only use the F-word once unless you want an R-rating. (Remember, Get Shorty was R-rated.) James Woods's response: F$@# That! It is a brilliant meta-joke that leaves one wishing the rest of the movie were that clever.
2. Adventures in Babysitting
Admittedly, this is a purely objective choice. After an already rough night in the city and being chased by criminals, Elisabeth Shue and company wind up on a subway. Trying to lick their wounds and evade the bad guys, our heroes find themselves smack dab in the middle of a gang war. When the plan of politely asking the gangs to leave backfires, and Brad has a knife thrown into his foot. He is sternly warned "Don't f@#% with the Lords of Hell." Having been pushed to her limits, Shue grabs the knife out of Brad's foot and delivers the best line in the movie: "Don't f#@$ with the babysitter!" In addition to being the first time I heard the coup de grace of dirty words used twice in the same movie, the line is just hilarious. More importantly, it is a great scene. Up to that point, the lead character was just an average teenager with regular problems, but for one shining moment, she was a bada@# who shut down two gangs at once.
Some of you may have seen this coming since this is widely considered one of the most memorable f-bombs in film history.What about this makes it so memorable? A lot of it can be chalked up to just how gratuitous it all is. There was really no need for him to kick over the model tree, no need for him to use the f-word, and no need for him to grab his family jewels. But you know what? He's Beetlejuice, so of course he is going to do all three, making for a hilarious payoff to an already funny scene. The other thing is that unlike the other movies on this list, Beetlejuice was rated PG. Okay, other movies such as Spaceballs and Big somehow kept their PG rating. Even if it wasn't the only time, after the establishment of the PG-13 rating, the list of PG movies with the f-word became very short. So being one of the movies to get away with it certainly helped make it memorable. For anybody who grew up with this movie, Beetlejuice is an entertaining reminder of when the rating was new and a movie that had an f-bomb, loads of innuendo, talks about suicide and nightmarish images could get the same rating as family-friendly ET. (Of course with the way things have now changed, Beetlejuice has the same rating as Frozen, but that's a discussion for another day.)
Warner Bros. did in fact release "family friendly" edits of this movie which edit out the offending word, but the scene just feels naked without it.
So those are my favorite F-bomb drops in PG-13 - or lower - movies. Feel free to share some of yours.
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