With the trailer showing eleven year old girls screaming the C-word, and scenes of extreme graphic violence, especially adult-on-child, Kick-Ass was expected to haver an interesting time with the censors. But the British Board of Film Classification has given then movie a '15' certificate, which means that no one under the age of 15 is allowed into a cinema to see the movie.
Britain has different guidelines to the USA's MPAA. The ratings U, PG, 12, 12 A, 15, 18 and R-18 denote different guidlelines and legal limits. The number indicates the minimum age allowed to see the film, though 12A allows any age with an adult present. The BBFC has a laxer attitude to nudity and sexuality than the MPAA though a much greater sensitivity to violence, especially what it calls imitable behaviour. For this reason, relatively mild US movies received much harsher ratings in the UK through the eighties due to, say, a headbutt or use of martial arts weapons. Those scenes were often cut in the UK for a film to gain a lower rating. However while ratings may restrict a certain audience, there is no reticence for cinemas to show 18 films wildly, the British equivalent of an NC-17, and as a result such films have often been more successful in the UK than the US, and allowed laxer cuts of certain films to be distributed.
The BBFC also gives a description of the reasons for the rating chosen. In Kick-Ass' case;
Contains strong language, once very strong, & strong bloody comic violence
We know what that "once very strong" is… but the child-aspects of the movie doesn't seem to have been an issue. This does not seem to be the case in the USA. Where there's already a storm kicking off over the red-band trailers, rarely seen in cinemas but ubiquitous over the internet where the age-checking barriers to watch them online are laughable. The LA Times reports;
Ms. Minow, who is also a shareholder activist and the daughter of Newton N. Minow, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has been stewing about red-band trailers for years, but the particularly graphic ones for "Kick-Ass" have brought her to a boil. She said she had lodged multiple complaints with the motion picture association in recent weeks. Other family advocacy groups — including one as far-flung as Australia — are rallying around her.
"These particular trailers are even worse than normal because they depict a child and so are more interesting to children," Ms. Minow said. She is also upset that the movie showcases a child engaging in such behavior in the first place, adding, "Isn't there a limit to what we can ask children to do on screen?"
They also talk to the MPAA about the spread of trailers.
"We devote enormous resources to making certain that kids don't encounter these trailers," said Marilyn Gordon, the organization's senior vice president for advertising. "That said, we can't scrub the entire Internet."
She said the association proactively searched for sites that provide unrestricted access to red-band trailers and, working with studios, demanded their removal. Since the Hit Girl trailer was released in December, Ms. Gordon said the organization had found 86 sites providing unrestricted access. As of Monday, all but a few had removed the video. One of the remaining was out of the organization's jurisdiction: a fan site in Eastern Europe.
None of this can of course be bad for its US release. And while the child violence and language may upset the MPAA, on the other hand, hardly any nudity might help its chances of a cut-less lower rating.
Still, what happens when Disney realise that it's actually a movie based on one of their comics? And worse than that, they aren't making any money off it?