Spanning a dozen years in the lives of two Texas siblings, Boyhood speaks truthfully about what it means to grow up in America. Too truthfully, it would seem: The MPAA, that eternally sage organization, slapped the film with an R rating—specifically, for scenes of its teenage characters saying naughty words, sipping from cans of beer, and occasionally smoking weed. The MPAA has long drawn criticism for its mixed-up priorities, with one opponent going as far as making a feature-length documentary about its backward rating rubric. But the Boyhood decision is uniquely wrongheaded: Here’s a movie about the normal challenges of adolescence—the kind of stuff that most kids in this country go through—that adolescents have been officially forbidden to watch.
Well, the IFC Center is having none of that noise. Proprietors of the New York City art-house venue have announced through their website that “the theater will admit high school age patrons at its discretion,” because they feel that Boyhood “is appropriate viewing for mature adolescents.” Now before everyone falls over themselves to praise the gutsy integrity of this choice, keep in mind that the film is being distributed by none other than IFC Films, meaning that the IFC Center obviously has a vested interest in letting a few youngsters with impeccable taste and long attention spans fork over their allowance to see their movie. But regardless of the rationale, it’s still heartening to see a theater take a stand against the boneheaded judgment calls of the MPAA. If teenagers can watch Nick Fury shoot a person in the face from point-blank range, surely they don’t need to be sheltered from a couple of F-bombs and a joint.