I don't watch many R Rated movies. The first R Rated movie I saw in a US movie theater was 28 Days Later which was several years ago.
Other R Rated movies include Saw, The Evil Dead, Chucky - you get the picture. Here's what the R Rating in the USA actually means, taken from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) website:
R — Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian. An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.
So, basically it's not appropriate, but parents are still allowed to bring their children to these movies should they so choose. In comparison, here is what the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) in the UK say about their 18 rating for 28 Days Later and other 18 rated films:
18 - Films rated 18 are for adults. No-one under 18 is allowed to see an 18 film at the cinema or buy / rent an 18 rated video. No 18 rated works are suitable for children.
All the R Rated movies I mentioned above are classed as 18 movies in the UK. Obviously, the UK ratings are what I'm used to and this is probably why I am always shocked to see children here in theaters watching movies directed at people way above their age level. At home, if the movie is unsuitable for children, then quite simply, they don't get in, accompanied by a parent or not. Yes, yes, I know, different strokes for different folks and all that, but nothing could persuade me that any R Rated movies are either suitable or appropriate for children. There simply is no credible reason for them to watch these movies! I can't believe that children are allowed in to see them at all and it still blows my mind when I see it happening. I've been to very few R Rated movies since 28 Days Later, but without fail, there have always been children in the audience.
Anyway, I'm not saying that everything in the UK is perfect. I may or may not have managed to blag my way into the pub when I was younger than 18 (legal drinking age in the UK). Actually it was probably easier to do that than get into a movie that was rated as too old for you! Pub age in America is 21. In the UK, most of us already have a few pub years under our belt by then, but that's a whole different blog post :) While I'm not naive enough to think that my children won't watch something R Rated before they turn 18, I most definitely will not be accompanying them to watch ANYTHING R Rated at the theater before they do so!