Why is Water For Elephants rated PG-13?
Official MPAA Rating: Water For Elephants is rated PG-13 for for moments of intense violence and sexual content.
Violence: A young man must identify the dead bodies of his parents after a car accident. He vomits following the experience. Characters are attacked, beaten and knocked down on numerous occasions. Characters are seen with bloody facial injuries and one woman has a black eye. A lion bites a man’s hand without injuring him. A horse is shot in the head. (The shot is heard but the incident takes place off screen.) A man talks about feeding the dead horse to the lions. A man repeatedly inflicts bloody injuries on an elephant when he beats it with a metal tipped stick. He also threatens to throw a man off a moving train. Later there is discussion of men who have been tossed, as well as depictions of bloody corpses lying along side the tracks. Circus animals chase audience members. One man appears to be mauled by a bear. An elephant strikes a man. One character attempts to choke another to death.
Sexual Content: During a sideshow performance, a woman dances seductively and removes her top. (Only her bare back is seen) Characters wear skimpy outfits for circus performances. A man looks at a book of naked women with stars pasted on their breasts. Sexual activity is briefly discussed using slang references to male anatomy. A married woman kisses an unmarried man. Later they are involved in sexual activity. (Bare backs and shoulders are seen along with passionate kissing.)
Language: The script contains just over a dozen profanities, including some scatological slang and terms of Deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Frequent alcohol, cigarette and cigar use is depicted in this period piece. Characters appear to be drunk in several scenes. One man’s anger and suspicions increase when he is drunk. Men give alcohol to animals several times. A man suffers partial paralysis from drinking a liquor substitute. Prohibition is discussed.