Sometimes, the MPAA's ratings can be real head-scratchers. ''The Hunger Games'' — in which kids kill kids — got a PG-13, whereas ''Bully'' was slapped with an R for six F-words. The following movies, like ''Bully,'' opted to fight back

By John Young
March 30, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

Killer Joe (2012)
The upcoming trailer-park noir earned an NC-17 for ”graphic aberrant content,” including a brutal scene involving a chicken drumstick. ”It’s within the parameters of other R-rated films,” says LD Distribution president David Dinerstein, who cited The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Pulp Fiction at the unsuccessful appeals hearing. LD might release the film unrated.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Due this fall, the high school drama starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman initially received an R rating for ”teen drug and alcohol use” and ”sexual references.” But writer-director Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the 1999 novel, managed to convince the MPAA that the movie’s content merited only a PG-13.

Blue Valentine (2010)
The MPAA branded the acclaimed romantic drama with an NC-17 for ”a scene of explicit sexual content” that involved Cindy (Michelle Williams) receiving oral sex from Dean (Ryan Gosling). At the appeals hearing, Harvey Weinstein and his lawyer cited similar scenes from the R-rated Basic Instinct and A History of Violence. The NC-17 was ultimately dropped.

Gunner Palace (2005)
Like Bully, this documentary received an R rating for its language — specifically 42 uses of the F-word. Codirector Michael Tucker argued that the profanity in the film, which depicts the lives of American soldiers in Iraq, was not gratuitous. ”We can support the troops by listening to what they have to say,” Tucker said in a statement. The MPAA changed the rating to PG-13.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
When his anti-Iraq-war doc was handed an R rating, director Michael Moore hired former New York governor Mario Cuomo as his lawyer to appeal the decision. But the MPAA wouldn’t budge, due to the film’s language and graphic images of war victims. ”I encourage all teenagers to come see my movie,” Moore said. ”If you need me to sneak you in, let me know.”

Team America: World Police (2004)
Even puppets aren’t allowed to have too much sex. Filmmakers Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame) had to show the MPAA nine different edits of one bedroom scene to secure an R rating. Later, Stone admitted to making the sex scene excessively dirty just so the MPAA would have something to cut.

Somehow, These Movies Got A PG-13
Since creating the PG-13 rating in 1984, the MPAA has let numerous films get away with R-level violence.

Batman Returns (1992)
The Tim Burton sequel suffered a backlash from parents stunned by the film’s relentless violence, such as the Penguin biting a publicist’s nose.

The Ring (2002)
The horror remake’s images, including a demonic child and a horse that commits suicide, were downright disturbing, even for many adults.

Beowulf (2007)
The bloody animated movie avoided an R even though the monster Grendel tears people in half and his mom (Angelina Jolie) appears naked.

Taken (2008)
To save his daughter, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) kills 32 people by electrocution, breaking necks, and using guns, knives, cars, and fire extinguishers.