Warning: spoilers for Ready Player One are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, hit pause and bookmark this page, so you can come back once you've seen the film!
Throughout the modern history of PG-13 movies, the restrictions on profanity have generated some interesting tropes. One of which happens to be the usage of "the F-bomb." You're only allowed one, and you've got to use it properly. Well, in the case of Ready Player One, that moment was turned into the perfect joke that not only sticks the landing in the land of dirty words, but also provides a perfect 80's reference on so many levels. And it all comes from the hands of Charles Lee Ray, better known to his friends as Chucky from Child's Play.
During the battle of Castle Anorak in Ready Player One's heart-racing finale, a power-up is thrown to Art3mis and Parzival in their hour of need. That particularly effective weapon is everyone's favorite Good Guys doll, armed with his classic killing implements - a knife, and his trademark mean streak. As Parzival throws the doll into the field, it latches onto one of IOI's Sixers, who tries to swat him off while delivering the film's sole F-bomb in the following punchline:
Now, with all of the 80's / 90's nostalgia on display throughout Ready Player One, bringing Chucky into the game is so perfect. With the OASIS inspiring IOI to try and kill Wade and the High Five, using a killer toy of their own against them, from James Halliday's favorite decade, is pretty fitting. Not to mention, the dropping of said f-bomb works like a charm, as it happens in the thick of battle, where it naturally finds a way into people's mouths. Not to mention, Chucky kind of made the word a catch-phrase at the beginning of Child's Play 3, when he delivered a rather spectacular killing blow that you can watch below:
Back into the world of the PG-13, as we'd mentioned before, the singular usage of "fuck" and its derivations in a PG-13 movie is pretty standard. We've seen this used to great effect in the past, such as the moment where X-Men: First Class gives the honors to Wolverine, serving as the first moment that showed his character's true colors at the movies. This isn't to say that all PG-13 movies should, or would, use this clause, and we've seen plenty of PG-13 superhero films that will never use that word in a million years - especially in the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, in a classic action-adventure comedy, or a film influenced by them like Ready Player One, this moment is a holy threshold. It's the edgy joke that keeps older teenagers, and sometimes their parents, invested in your standard four quadrant blockbuster. Something for everyone is needed in those films, and when this word in particular hits, it tends to bring either a laugh or a cheer when it's used in a PG-13 film, as it tends to be either the ultimate punchline or insult when it's delivered. And who would know better about the restrictions of the PG-13 rating than Steven Spielberg himself?
It was movie history when the PG-13 rating was introduced, and both Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (which he directed) and Gremlins (which he produced) are credited as sparking the origins of the cautionary grade. While those were due to content that parents felt was too violently graphic for a PG rating, but the Motion Picture Association of America didn't see going all the way to the R-rated level, profanity eventually became the battleground of what was still in the family realm and what wasn't. So Ready Player One's manner of playing to the format and formula of the rating is kind of funny, when you think about how Steven Spielberg indirectly had a hand in its inception.
Serving as both a wicked nod to the impression that Child's Play had on 80's horror, as well as how the PG-13 rating dictates the usage of profanity, Chucky's mini-rampage in Ready Player One gave us the most extreme joke to play in the film. The fact that the man who shaped film-making in the 80's, both in execution and evaluation, let the joke play out from the script by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline is a fun nod to how movies have changed and the structure of a classic tentpole adventure such as Ready Player One. Above all else though, the look and reaction on Sixer's face was, quite frankly, fucking hysterical. But don't take our word for it, as you can see the film yourself in theaters now!