UPDATE: Ukraine bans Bruno
Readers ask: How in the Helsinki did Bruno, which includes extreme close-ups of man-parts and prolonged sequences of sex and simulated sex, receive an R rating, which makes it available to those 17 and older? My kneejerk response: That the Motion Picture Association of America generally designates a rating that would most financially benefit its signatories, the studios. (This also explains why the new Harry Potter, which has the threat of violence and terror one would think was PG-13, was rated PG.)
In the UK, Bruno was circumcised by nearly two minutes in order to win the 15 rating that would allow teenagers to see it. (Read link to see what was snipped.) To see the uncut version in the UK, you have to be 18.
But my kneejerk reaction does not take into account the recentish trend in R-rated comedies: Male frontal nudity played for laughs. (See: Sideways, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Used to be that man-parts earned a film an automatic NC-17 (although The Piano was an exception to the general rule) while woman-parts were R. This of course created a double-standard where female nudity was pervasive and male nudity relatively rare. So the fact that Bruno got an R rating may be interpreted as a sign of a single standard.
Thoughts on the ratings system? On Bruno? Here's my reaction. And here's that of Barbara Walters and the gals on The View. And here's a take from Joe Baltake, who thinks that Bruno owes Dieter royalties.