Why Is Beautiful Boy Rated R?

Beautiful Boy is a 2018 biographical drama film based on the memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, chronicling Nic’s struggles with drug addiction and recovery. The film was directed by Felix Van Groeningen and starred Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. It received positive reviews from critics but was rated R by the Motion Picture Association (MPAA) of America. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Beautiful Boy received an R rating.

Drug Use and Language

One of the main reasons for Beautiful Boy’s R rating is its depiction of drug use and language. The film portrays Nic’s addiction to crystal meth and the effects it has on his life and family. The film contains scenes of drug use, including injection, and characters using explicit language when discussing drug use and addiction. The MPAA determined that this content was not suitable for younger audiences and warranted an R rating.

Depiction of Self-Harm

Another factor that contributed to Beautiful Boy’s R rating is its depiction of self-harm. The film portrays Nic cutting himself as a coping mechanism for his addiction and mental health issues. While the scenes are not overly graphic, the MPAA determined that the content was not appropriate for children and younger teenagers.

Themes and Tone

The themes and tone of Beautiful Boy are also contributing factors to its R rating. The film deals with heavy themes of addiction, recovery, and the impact of drug use on a family. The film portrays the struggles and challenges faced by both Nic and his family in dealing with addiction, and the emotional toll it takes on everyone involved. The MPAA deemed that the mature themes and serious tone of the film were not appropriate for younger viewers.

Comparison with MPAA Guidelines

The MPAA ratings system is designed to provide information to parents about the content of a film and help them make informed decisions about what their children watch. The R rating is defined as indicating that a film contains adult material and is not suitable for children under 17 years of age without parental guidance. When compared to the MPAA guidelines, it is clear that Beautiful Boy meets the criteria for an R rating. The film contains depictions of drug use and self-harm, as well as mature themes and language.


In conclusion, Beautiful Boy received an R rating due to its depictions of drug use and language, self-harm, and mature themes and tone. While the rating may restrict younger viewers from seeing the film without parental guidance, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of providing information to parents about the content of films. The film’s honest portrayal of addiction and its impact on a family has resonated with audiences and highlights the importance of understanding and supporting those dealing with addiction.

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