The kids of today don’t know what it’s like to sneak into movies for grown-ups. First of all, almost everything at the multiplex is PG-13 now, and R-rated comedies and thrillers often are so tame that even adults don’t want to watch most of them. Second of all, any kid can just wait a couple months (or a couple minutes) and track down so-called “restricted” material online. Kids born in the 1980s are probably the last to truly understand the challenge and thrill of sneaking in, whether they did so by buying a ticket to a PG movie and hopping auditoriums or going around the back of the theater and sneaking in for free.
The movies you snuck into vary depending on the year you were born, but these 10 titles each had a potent appeal to kids under the age of 17, whether because of nudity, violence or simply because they actually looked good. It wasn’t your fault they were rated R.
Natural Born Killers
Kids want what they can’t have, so any movie immediately marked controversial because of violence was going to intrigue the hell out of you. Oliver Stone’s satire of America’s obsession with serial killers was so bloody it initially received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It still was probably less violent than some of the video games you played at home at the time, but in any case, you already had the soundtrack because of the Nine Inch Nails and Dr. Dre songs.
Kids wanted to see this one because it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994. OK, maybe not. There was something irresistible about the pop-culture relevance of this off-color, nonlinear blockbuster that had everybody talking, and you couldn’t not be a part of it. Besides, it sure didn’t look as violent as Natural Born Killers, or even director Quentin Tarantino’s previous film Reservoir Dogs, which you watched a million times on video already. And as for those 265 F-bombs heard in the movie — at the time a relatively high number? They didn’t even faze you since you heard more (and often worse) every day at school and home.
Kevin Smith’s debut was a bit more difficult to sneak into than some others on this list because it played at the indie-centric twin downtown rather than the multiplex. But you made the effort, because Smith was the kind of new director who spoke to your generation. He was obsessed with pop culture and hockey and weed, and the black-and-white cinematography was more about being raw and punk rock and sticking it to the mainstream than it was to be artsy fartsy. Also, you heard about the BJ jokes.
Hey, it was Marky Mark on the big screen in a movie that actually had some good buzz for once. (Of course, the biggest buzz that teenage guys heard had to do with someone called Roller Girl, but never mind that.) Just like young Eddie Adams, aka Dirk Diggler, you were drawn in to the porn-industry cosmos of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s breakthrough movie by the glittering promise of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. What was the big deal, anyway? It’s not like the movie was a real porno.
There’s Something About Mary
If you’ve gone through puberty, you’re old enough to appreciate illogical, immature jokes involving semen being mistaken for hair product. In fact, teen boys were the most appropriate audience for the Farrelly brothers’ movies: If they had become a fan of theirs by way of their hit Dumb and Dumber, which was only rated PG-13, then they couldn’t miss their even bigger mainstream smash — at least not when everyone was spoiling all the best bits.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
It makes sense that if you’re making the leap from TV to a feature film — as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone did in 1999 — that you have to go raunchier, more violent and more profane. However, if a lot of your built-in fan base is young, there might be an issue regarding their ability to attend the bigger, longer and uncut version of their favorite show. No matter, though, because just like their heroes in the movie itself, South Park viewers of all ages simply snuck in (though maybe not thanks to a homeless man buying you tickets). And guess what? The world didn’t end.
Why shouldn’t you get to see a movie about your own life? Outside of some of the nudity maybe, there couldn’t possibly be anything in this raunchy teen classic that you weren’t familiar with. American Pie was made for you, and denying you a ticket on the basis of some arbitrary R rating was ridiculous. What’s the worst that could happen — you become inspired to commit a copycat act with a pie or flute?
Eyes Wide Shut
The biggest movie stars in the world made a film involving sexual obsession, but it’s not like this was Showgirls (which was rated NC-17) or anything you’d seen on Skinemax already. This was the final film by Stanley Kubrick, and while you might not have fully registered that significance back then, you nevertheless thought the director’s A Clockwork Orange was pretty cool and expected that this might be, too. A masked orgy and naked Nicole Kidman aside, it wasn’t.
Jackass: The Movie
Another movie spun-off from a TV series, and again it was one with a lot of younger fans. If you loved Jackass on MTV, you loved crazy stunts, so who knows what you might have done to get in to see the big screen version, which obviously was also bigger, longer and uncut — except for the scenes that might have earned an NC-17, such as the insertion of a toy car into Ryan Dunn’s anus. Hopefully at least one person out there was inspired by Johnny Knoxville to dress up as an old man or woman in order to buy a ticket with ease.
You’d be on the younger side of ’80s-born kids to have needed to sneak into this one, but if you are, you definitely did: It was only the most talked-about horror film in years, and one of the hardest mainstream R-rated entries into the genre in decades. The weekend it opened, it made far less than the PG-13 horror film The Grudge, and that’s probably only because you and many other kids bought a ticket to the lighter thriller before ducking into this gruesome instant classic instead.