Vivian Zink
Liane Bonin
July 07, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

They don’t call it an Rrrrrr rating for nothing. Ever since theater owners instituted a carding system for underage teens, the issue of what makes some movies too hot for PG-13 has Hollywood all riled up. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of ”South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” recently blasted the MPAA, claiming the criteria used to judge films are arbitrary and unfair. And they aren’t the only ones who think the rating system is off the mark. ”I don’t know why it’s not okay to see someone’s breasts when you can see all these guns on TV,” groans Kirsten Dunst, whose upcoming black comedy ”Drop Dead Gorgeous” scored a lucky PG-13 despite enough campy prom-queen fatalities and amputations to have some pundits scratching their heads at the verdict. ”Certain movies are R rated just because of nudity, but what’s wrong with the human body?”

The cast of ”American Pie” (opening Friday) couldn’t agree more. Gore free but overflowing with hormones, the movie earned an R rating, which may keep the targeted teen audience out of theaters. ”I don’t think that 13- or 14-year-olds SHOULDN’T be allowed to see this,” complains star Jason Biggs about the film’s raunchy humor, which includes a solo sex act with the titular pie. ”High school is not rated PG-13,” adds costar Chris Klein. ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Alyson Hannigan, whose small role in ”Pie” features a memorable line about a flute venturing into a part of the body where no musical instrument has gone before, has a different take on the issue. ”If kids do get carded, that’s just going to force them to go with an adult, so we’ll get bigger box office,” she explains. ”I think our campaign should be, ‘If your parents don’t take you, befriend the local homeless man and take him.’ Homeless people like movies too.”

Although both ”Pie” and the unnerving ”Arlington Road” (also opening Friday) are likely to stir up audiences with their adult subject matter, ”Arlington” earned an R rating for its disturbing look at the violence of homegrown terrorists. ”I’m not so concerned about sex in films,” says the film’s star Tim Robbins, a father of three. ”Violence in films is more scary, more scarring. People are so twisted about sex, but what’s the problem with it? What kids are going to see is either a good example or a bad example, and then you just have to talk with them about it.” Yeah, but the pros and cons of getting lucky with an apple pie never used to be part of the old birds-and-bees routine.

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