Poor Things parents guide: Why is the movie rated R? (Yes, there's nudity)

Yorgos Lanthimos' latest film Poor Things is now streaming on Hulu. Can you watch it with kids around? Eh, probably not.

Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.© 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.
Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.© 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved. /
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One of the best movies of 2023 has finally hit streaming, so now you have no excuse to have not seen Poor Things! Well, if you're a parent, you might have an excuse. The Yorgos Lanthimos drama is rated R, so if you have children in your house, you'll probably want to wait until they go to bed to start watching. Starring Emma Stone, Poor Things follows a woman named Bella Baxter who, after being brought back to life with a brain transplant, restarts her life with no recollection of who she used to be.

At the start of the film, Bella has the brain of a child, but she progresses extremely fast, and soon enough she's ready for independence. Poor Things also stars the amazing Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, and Ramy Youssef, with smaller (but just as impactful!) performances from Kathryn Hunter, Jerrod Carmichael, and Christopher Abbott. The film is very inspiring as we watch Bella find herself as a woman in the world, and in typical Lanthimos fashion, it's unpredictable and experimental in the most compelling ways.

Poor Things is rated R for sex, nudity, violence, profanity, and more

I'm hyping this movie up because it really is one of the best I've seen in a long time! That said, Poor Things was made for adults, and depending on how old your child is, many of the scenes could seriously disturb them. It's rated R, officially, for "strong and pervasive sexual content, graphic nudity, disturbing material, gore, and language," according to the MPAA. We break down exactly what that means below. (Minor spoilers to follow.)

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Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved. /
  • Sex and nudity: As Bella matures, she also experiences sexual urges. There is a scene earlier on in the film of her trying to masturbate with an apple, and there are multiple sex scenes with full frontal nudity. Both men and women are seen nude, and Emma Stone's character Bella, along with Mark Ruffalo's character Duncan, have multiple explicit sex scenes. If your child can understand nudity, we'd recommend not watching Poor Things around them.
  • Violence and gore: Willem Dafoe's character Dr. Godwin Baxter is an offbeat surgeon who, similar to Victor Frankenstein, wants to see if he can create his own living creatures. Because of this, there are multiple graphic scenes of surgery being conducted as well as dismembered body parts. This would definitely frighten young children.
  • Alcohol use: As Bella finds her independence and sees the world, she also tries alcohol. There are scenes of her drinking heavily, as well as her passing out from intoxication. This might not disturb a child, but it's probably something you want to avoid showing to them.
  • Profanity: Yep, there's a lot of that. There are multiple uses of the "F"-word, along with other curse words you definitely don't want your kid repeating, such as the "C"-word. The use of these words isn't a one or two-time offense, either; they're used throughout the movie.
  • Other mature themes: Without getting into specifics to avoid spoilers, although Poor Things has its quirky and funny moments, there are also many dark scenes. Bella deals with existentialism, and she learns about sexism, classism, and other real-world issues a child either wouldn't understand or could be disturbed by. There is also a scene of someone taking their own life.
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Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in POOR THINGS. Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved. /

Poor Things can be considered disturbing for adults, so it could definitely give children nightmares if they understand what's going on. When talking about the nudity and sex scenes in the film, Stone defended their graphic nature while speaking to BBC Radio 4's show Front Row (via Business Insider):

"One of the things we talked about from very early on, and what I thought was extremely important, is that Bella is completely free and without shame about her body. She doesn't know to be embarrassed by these things, or to cover things up, or not dive into the full experience when it comes to anything. So for the camera to sort of shy away from that, or to say like, OK, well, we'll just cut all of this out because our society functions in a particular way... it felt like a lack of being honest about who Bella is and what she feels. I'm not a person that just wants to be naked all the time, but I am someone who wants to honor the character as fully as I possibly can. For this, it felt like that's part of her journey, so who am I to say that should be shameful?"

Emma Stone, BBC Radio 4's Front Row

Poor Things is sitting at an impressive 92% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and at the 96th Academy Awards taking place this Sunday, March 10, it's up for 11 awards, including Best Picture. Though it might not take home the biggest award of the night, it's still awesome to see the movie recognized. I highly recommend Poor Things, but only for mature audiences.

Stream Poor Things right now on Hulu.

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