x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Hangover fit only for older heads?

It features censored nudity, coarse language and adult humour, and filmgoers in the Emirates are questioning whether the age restriction for the sequel to the smash hit comedy should be raised.

The Hangover Part II, showing in cinemas including those in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, is rated PG-15.
The Hangover Part II, showing in cinemas including those in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, is rated PG-15.

DUBAI // Filmgoers are questioning the PG-15 age restriction for The Hangover Part II after its release in cinemas last Thursday.

In the sequel to a popular US comedy that follows the misadventures of a group of male friends, the same characters are in Thailand retracing their steps after a wild night.

Their investigation takes them to a strip club, monastery and tattoo parlour and, in scenes where actors are naked, their private parts are covered with a black rectangle.

"They show a lot of skin. Even though they cut it out, your mind can tell you what you should be seeing," said Rifqa Abrahams Mashkoor, 33, a make-up artist and stylist from South Africa who watched the film with her husband at the weekend.

"There's way too much swearing. It's funny but it's a disgusting funny. It's not for kids."

Another viewer, an Emirati father who declined to give his name, said he felt an age limit of 16 or 17 would have been more appropriate.

Omid Fatemi, 19, an Iranian student, said he thought the film should be restricted to those 18 or older because of scenes of near-nudity and drug use.

"Even though they censored it, it still wasn't very appropriate," Mr Fatemi said.

In Britain the film is rated 15 while in the US it is rated R, which means anyone under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

The PG-15 rating in the UAE means a parent or guardian must accompany anyone under that age.

It is one of three categories of the UAE movie-ratings system: adult, 15 and general. PG, or "parental guidance", is a subcategory the committee may add to allow those younger than 18 to watch the film if they are accompanied by an adult.

Age restrictions are set by a cinema committee of the National Media Council, part of the Ministry of Information. "When it says PG, that does not mean a friend can accompany you to the cinema and it does not mean that an adult can buy the ticket for you and send you off to see it alone," said Khalid al Shaikh, the public relations officer for the council. "It means an adult from your family must accompany you."

Mr al Shaikh said he could not comment immediately on how the committee had reached their rating decision on The Hangover Part II. But he said if the committee members received enough negative response to the rating, they might reconsider.

"We take people's complaints very seriously and if this is the case - that people are complaining - then it is possible we would reconvene the cinema committee to re-rate this movie," Mr al Shaikh said.

The film's distributor in the UAE, Shooting Stars, edited it according to instructions from the media council, said the company's managing director Roy Chacra.

"The council watches the movie and they tell us what to do," Mr Chacra said. "We abide by whatever the ministry says."

Toni el Massih, the regional manager of CineStar Cinemas Middle East, which has theatres in the Mall of the Emirates and other locations in the country, said it was up to parents and older family members to decide whether those younger than 15 should watch the film.

"Hangover Part II is rated PG-15, so an older brother can bring his younger brother with him legally," Mr el Massih said. "If I wanted, I could bring my five-year-old with me to see it. In this case, it is the parent's choice."

But not all moviegoers thought the film needed a higher rating.

"It's just annoying when they block things out," said Shelbie Black, 18, a student from Britain.

Her friend Katie Murray, 19, said she wanted to watch the unedited version in the UK next month. "We missed bits here," she said.

The film took in $31.7 million (Dh116.4m) in North America on its first day, according to estimates from Warner Bros cited by Reuters.

The first instalment of the film took in $468m worldwide - the highest-earning R-rated comedy ever.

chuang@thenational.ae