Julien Neaves – Editor
Despite some early controversy psychological crime drama Joker is having the last laugh as it has been crowned the highest grossing R-rated film of all time (not adjusted for inflation), and is dancing all the way to an almost inevitable billion dollar haul.
But anyone who has watched a Michael Bay Transformers sequel will know that there is not always a direct correlation between obscene box office profits and high quality cinema. So Joker is number one with a dollar sign, but is it the best R-rated film? With a SPOILER ALERT here are the Ten Highest Grossing R-Rated Films Ranked:
#10 Fifty Shades of Grey (9th Highest Grossing<HG>)
Do I really have to talk about this movie? Fine! I hate Fifty Shades of Grey. This “movie” gave me a headache with its resounding awfulness and lazy, banal plot.
How do you have an erotic drama that has zero sex appeal and the leads have zero chemistry? How did this movie make so much money? How did we as a society come to this? Take a shame bell for that!
#9 The Hangover Part II (8th HG)
The Hangover is one of those insanely popular films that I missed when it came out, and I actually had to watch it and it’s sequel for the purposes of this list. The original film and its tale of the “Wolf Pack” trying to find a groom after an unforgettable night (which none of them can remember) lives up to the hype as it was a wild, raunchy, insane laugh-a-minute romp. The sequel though, not so much.
The Hangover Part II is the poster child for the repetitive sequel. It pretty much copies everything from the first film but changes the setting from Las Vegas to Thailand. The comedy goes from laugh-a-minute to laugh every 20 minutes or so and, for long stretches, not at all. The Hangover Part II clearly coasted on the quality of its vastly superior sequel, but never truly justifies its existence.
#8 The Matrix Reloaded (4th HG)
And speaking of films that coast on their superior originals, next up is The Matrix Reloaded. Now the first Matrix is a ground-breaking, trendsetting, exhilarating and infinitely rewatchable science fiction action film.
It’s highly anticipated sequel, however, was a poorly paced, disappointing film, with some very shaky CGI effects. Anyone suffering with insomnia should put on the Architect scene. They’ll be out like a light! The film is only saved by a couple of spectacular third act action scenes. Who say ghost twins. The only other thing Reloaded has going for it, is that is not the junk heap that is The Matrix Revolutions.
#7 Deadpool 2 (3rd HG)
Deadpool 2 is the last sequel on this list but thankfully this one I can actually recommend watching. Ryan Reynolds delivers another enjoyable performance as the titular regenerating anti-hero and the additions of the time-travelling Cable and spunky and lucky Domino were indeed welcome.
The plot is a bit thin, some of the new characters fall flat and it lacks the edge and some of the irreverence of the original, but it is still a solid effort. The crazy post-credits scenes alone make it worth watching.
#6 It Chapter One (5th HG)
This adaptation of the Stephen King tome about a child devouring, shapeshifting demon did what few modern-day horror films do-actually be scary. Compared to the 1990 TV miniseries this film was much more adult and bloodier, gleefully earning its R rating.
Buoyed by a chilling performance by Bill Skarsgård as the titular eternal evil and a solid child cast, including Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, this film kicked off a renaissance of King films in both cinemas (see Doctor Sleep) and on Netflix (see In the Tall Grass).
#5 Ted (10th HG)
Like The Hangover, Ted was one of those films I missed the first time around. With a teddy bear brought to life by a boy’s wish that grows into a cursing, horny, pothead stuffed toy, Ted definitely had a unique premise.
And ironically I did not find the character Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) all that funny on his own but the poop humour and hijinks, including the Ted vs John (Mark Wahlberg) fight and the drug-fuelled partying with Flash Gordon actor Sam Jones, were downright gut-busting. This ain’t your grandfather’s teddy bear movie.
#4 Deadpool (2nd HG)
Deadpool is a true underdog story. After an embarrassing introduction in X-Men: Origins: Wolverine and actor Ryan Reynolds also flopping as another superhero, DC’s Green Lantern, it seemed unlikely this movie would be made, and even less likely that it would be a record-breaking hit. But the first film with Marvel’s merc-with-a-mouth (played to perfection this time by Reynolds) defied all expectations and previously held the number one highest-grossing R-rated film throne.
The plot is simple and the film is tight as everything is just a showcase for Deadpool’s manic, fourth-wall breaking, wise cracking, f-bomb dropping, sword slicing and bullet shooting carnival of carnage. You go one minute from Deadpool joking about his horrifying face to a big budget comic book action scene, and everything works well in this colourful package.
#3 Joker (HG)
Alright, calm down there DC diehards. Let me explain why Joker is not number one before you go all Arthur Fleck on me. Now this psychological crime drama features an Oscar- worthy performance by Joaquin Phoenix. He is truly mesmerising in the role. And the film features some memorable and disturbing scenes, and eyegasmic cinematography.
But upon more thorough examination you will see the plot has some weaknesses and could do with some trimming. And though billed as a comic book movie the Batman references feel shoe-horned in and the character never really resembles the iconic comic book villain. And as a Joker fan myself that is the biggest demerit of the much lauded and ridiculously successful film.
#2 The Passion of the Christ (6th HG)
Now whatever you may think about the historical Jesus Christ, whether you believe he is the son of God or not, or whatever you may think about director Mel Gibson’s controversial antics, it is difficult to deny what a well-made film The Passion of the Christ is. Jim Caviezel delivers an outstanding performance as Jesus Christ that is both human and divine. And while filming the man got struck by lightning while on the cross! Now that is commitment!
The film is also richly authentic with its use of Aramaic and Greek speech, fantastic period costuming and gorgeous cinematography. And yes the bloody whipping and crucifixion scenes are difficult to watch, but this also fits with the movie’s striving for authenticity. But a religious film being this successful decades after the glory days of Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments is the Hollywood equivalent of turning water into wine, and not something that can be easily waved away.
#1 Logan (7th HG)
Logan may be the seventh highest-grossing film on this list but in terms of quality it deserves to be number one. Hugh Jackman closes out his almost two-decade long career of playing the regenerating mutant Wolverine with a layered, visceral and brilliant performance. It may be a comic book movie but this Wolverine is the old Western gunfighter on his last legs, just looking for some peace after a long life of blood and death.
He is strongly assisted by Patrick Stewart as a mentally fading Charles Xavier, and the relationship between the two are sad, touching and beautiful. Also a shout out to Dafne Keen as the lethal but vulnerable Wolverine clone and surrogate daughter Laura/X-23. Logan also finally, finally, finally delivers the gory, blood-soaked Berserker-rage action of the comics Wolverine. For delivering an entertaining and touching story that gave a fitting farewell to a beloved comic book and film character, Logan is the number one R-rated movie.
So what’s your favourite high grossing R-Rated movie? And if you enjoyed this list how about a share? For my ranking of the Top 10 Highest-Grossing Films you can click here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel but dreams of being Batman. Also loves creating board games and is an aspiring Caribbean sci-fi author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce“.