While rewatching Mr and Mrs Smith, there is only one instance where the f-word is used. There are several other movies (I can't recall any other at the moment) where f-word is used only once. Is there a reason for this?

  • 4
    X-Men 1st class - Hugh Jackman?
    – Liath
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:24
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    @Liath that is one of the best examples.
    – topher
    Feb 5, 2014 at 22:08
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    "Lincoln" had two F-bombs (both spoken by James Spader) and was PG-13, yet "Big" from 1988 had an F-bomb but was rated PG. Guess they were more lax back then.
    – user8669
    Mar 21, 2014 at 6:21
  • Recently I've observed this in Seth Rogen's "The Guilt Trip". Mar 21, 2014 at 7:05
  • @user8669 I just re-watched Big for the first time as an adult and was quite surprised to here that and the word "asshole" used (by a child no less) in the same scene. It was quite interesting noticing all the things that went over my head as a kid watching it in the theater. At first I thought it might have been before PG-13 was created, but PG-13 was created in '84 and Big came out in '88. There were some interesting transitional years back then when they got away with things you would never see in a PG movie now. Feb 11, 2017 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


In order for a film to get a 12A or PG-13 rating, it cannot contain gratuitous use of profanity:

One 'Fuck' is allowed, anymore and it automatically becomes a 15 or R rated.

That article features a very humorous piece of meta-textuality, referring to the Movie Be Cool, in which budding film producer Chili Palma states:

“Do you know that unless you're willing to use the R rating, you can only say the 'F' word once? You know what I say? Fuck that. I'm done."

For the rest of the film, several characters come close to using the word "fuck" but are cut off or censored in some way before they can.

Be Cool is a PG-13...

Othes that hold back the F-Bombs for certification purposes include:

  • Crazy Stupid Love
  • Larry Crowne
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Big
  • Beetlejuice


Recently there has been room for discretion, as the MPAA has stated that:

if two-thirds of the ratings board members believe that multiple F-words are used in a legitimate 'context or manner' or are 'inconspicuous,' then the movie could still be rated PG-13.

However, the biggest gripe the MPAA/BBFC/Other variants have is the use of the word Fuck in a sexual context, or as a verb: as in "I'm going to fuck you". Even hint at this, and its...

enter image description here

and so the following films use more than one 'Fuck' but still received a PG-13:

  • The Social Network
  • The Tourist
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • Iron Man 2
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

There is clearly more and more room for discretion, but I guess it's not really worth the risk/re-edit for some people...

  • Thanks. The link is particularly informative. This question was prompted by John Smith and answered by John Smith.
    – topher
    Feb 1, 2014 at 23:25
  • Wow, that question seemed a bit strange at first, but this answer gives it a whole lot of substance.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 1, 2014 at 23:47
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    Super 8 has a great example of the Precision F-Strike (TV tropes warning). It is said by Donny, the guy who drives them to the school before getting wasted in the car. He panics when he sees them being carted away by the military and follows. When he catches up to them, standing beside an overturned bus, he first expresses great relief that they are alive, then noticing the trashed bus, he asks "What the F---?!?". It was classic. :) Feb 2, 2014 at 4:44
  • I'll back this up with a comment about the writer creating the universe and the characters. If the writer doesn't feel that the character would use a F-bomb in a scene, then they wont write dialogue for the character, in that scene, which uses an F-bomb. Feb 5, 2014 at 16:47
  • There is an excellent documentary about the ratings system and some of the craziness surrounding it called This Film Is Not Yet Rated. It's been a while since I last saw it, but I remember them talking about some strange rules surrounding things like the F-word and how many thrusts can be shown in a sex scene, etc. Also how some directors put extra extreme stuff as a distraction to intentionally cut later so the stuff they want to keep gets ignored by the ratings board. Feb 11, 2017 at 15:59

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