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Why Is 'The Jungle Book' Rated PG? The Rating Has Raised Some Eyebrows For Parents

Disney’s live-action version of The Jungle Book premieres Friday, and whether the remake of the Rudyard Kipling classic is suitable for kids has been one of the biggest questions from parents. And it’s not an easy determination to make. Parents looking to take their little ones to the theater this weekend are likely wondering why The Jungle Book is rated PG instead of G. The reason for the elevated rating might raise some eyebrows among moms and dads, but the designation is actually pretty common.

Director Jon Favreau has reinvented the well-known tale of the “man-cub” Mowgli and his animal friends using a thrilling mix of computer animation and live action. Adults who loved Disney’s 1967 animated classic will certainly recognize some elements of their beloved version in the remake, wrote USA Today movie critic Brian Truitt, but should certainly expect to get lost in the seamless realism and eye-popping action:

The movie trailer for The Jungle Book (2016) certainly appears far more intense than the cartoon that adults moviegoers would remember.

That realism was why India censors gave The Jungle Book a “UA” rating, according to news website DNA India. The label — equivalent to the PG rating granted by the Motion Picture Association of America — meant that censors believed kids should only go see the film if accompanied by an adult. In a statement, censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani cited the intense visual effects in The Jungle Book as a major reason for the rating:

As for American censors, Associated Press film writer Leslie Bahr reported that the MPAA granted the film a PG rating because of “some sequences of scary action and peril.” According to the MPAA website, that means parents might need to literally guide their children through what they’re seeing on screen. By contrast, according to that same website, a G rating would mean that there would be nothing in the film “that would offend parents for viewing by children.”

But while The Jungle Book trailer certainly hints at more action than parents might expect from a PG-rated film, the rating probably shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Recent Walt Disney Studios blockbusters Zootopia and Inside Out both earned PG ratings, according to the official list of Disney movies. And while neither of those films were particularly action packed, they did introduce emotions and situations that might prompt some additional conversation from moms and dads. But that’s true of many of today's pictures aimed at young viewers; even Disney’s wildly popular 2013 film, Frozen, was granted a PG rating by the MPAA according to the Disney movie database.  

Of course, it’s up to parents to decide for themselves what their children can handle. But the tale of Mowgli’s journey to find — or define — what home means has withstood multiple retellings since it was first published in 1894. And for many adults, watching the 1967 cartoon was one of the best memories of childhood. Even with a PG rating, seeing the classic story on the big screen for the first time should be an unforgettable experience for the whole family.