Who knew that Julia Roberts’ new chick flick “Eat Pray Love” could be so scandalous? Well, perhaps the fact it was directed by “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy should have provided some warning.
Initially rated R for “brief strong language,” which is even a tad tough for the MPAA, the movie organization reversed itself Thursday after in-person arguments were made by Murphy and producer Dede Gardner in front of its appeals board. The film now has a “PG-13” rating with a more provocative warning for “brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.” Whether that male nudity is from co-star Javier Bardem remains to be seen — literally — but the new rating is a huge sigh of relief for distributor Sony Pictures.
The studio is hoping to duplicate last year’s success with “Julie and Julia,” a similarly female skewed romantic comedy, in the same general release date and an R-rating could have scared a lot of that lucrative audience away. It also helps Roberts who desperately needs to prove she can still open movies. While she was part of this year’s ensemble blockbuster “Valentine’s Day,” she can’t get most of the credit for it’s $110 million gross. In fact, Robert’s last true breakthrough hit was “America’s Sweethearts” in 2001 (“Ocean’s Eleven” or “Ocean’s Twelve” really can’t count either).
Strangely, Roberts has actually has had just as many R-rated as PG-13 success stories, but few of them were in the “Love” genre. “Flatliners,” “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “Dying Young,” “Something to Talk About,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Erin Brokovich” and, yes, even “Pretty Woman” were all R-rated. On second thought, maybe Sony Pictures should have fought to keep the tougher standard.
Audiences will be able to judge just how “adult” the picture is for themselves when “Eat Pray Love” opens nationwide on Aug. 13.