The movie rating system is a voluntary system sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners to provide parents with advance information on films, enabling the parent to make judgments on movies they want or don't want their children to see.
Do the ratings indicate if a movie is good or bad?
No, the system is not designed to serve the function of "critic." The ratings do not determine or reflect whether a film is "good" or "bad." The system is not intended to approve, disapprove or censor any film; it merely assigns a rating for guidance -- leaving the decision-making responsibilities to the parents.
Who gives movies their ratings?
Parents give the movies their ratings - men and women just like you. They are part of a specially designed committee called the film rating board of Classification and Rating Administration. As a group they view each film, and, after a group discussion, vote on its rating, making an educated estimate as to which rating most American parents will consider the most appropriate.
What criteria do they use?
The rating board uses the criteria you as a parent use when deciding what is suitable viewing for your child. Theme, language, violence, nudity, sex and drug use are among those content areas considered in the decision-making process. Also assessed is how each of these elements is employed in the context of each individual film. The rating board places no special emphasis on any of these elements; all are considered and examined before a rating is given.
Is the rating system a law?
No, the rating system is strictly voluntary and carries no force of law.