Anyone who follows movies with any kind of regularity knows that the MPAA has some oddly specific qualifications when it comes to rating theatrically released films. For example, it turns out that they have some very strange rules when it comes to penises – from how they are allowed to be moved around on screen to when and how they can be shown as being… excited.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising writer/director Nicolas Stoller during a press day in Los Angeles, and it was at the end of our interview that the conversation steered towards the MPAA and their weirdly particular rules about male genitalia. The filmmaker mentioned that he’s never really had any personal issues with the ratings board, but did reveal some knowledge that he earned during the making of his directorial debut, Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
I never had any issues with MPAA. If it’s R rated [targeted], you can basically do anything. You just can’t show erect penis. This is the thing with a penis (holds out hand with fingers curled, and slowly flattens his palm), it’s like R, R, R, R, NC-17. Including flopping. If you want to flop, you flop left to right, not up and down. That’s an actual thing.

Interestingly, during the same process Nicolas Stoller did learn that there is an option that filmmakers can use if they really must feature an erect penis on screen:
The two movies I noticed that have erect penises that are R are the South Park movie and Scary Movie, but the penises are detached. You don’t see them attached to a body.

These scenes are most definitely NSFW, but for point of reference you can watch the Scary Movie sequence below:

And the scene from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut here.

Congratulations, you totally learned something new today.

You won’t be seeing any penises in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, but there is plenty of R-rated mayhem to enjoy when the movie arrives in theaters this Friday, May 20th.
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