drug misuse, frequent drug references, strong language, sex

Beautiful Boy is a moving US drama in which a father, David, struggles to help his teenage son, Nic, overcome addiction problems. The story unfolds from both perspectives, with Nic’s declining health from drugs paralleled to David’s fear, frustration and helplessness as he tries desperately to save his son.

Key classification issue: drug misuse

At 15, BBFC guidelines allow for some drug taking to be shown, as long as the content as a whole does not promote or encourage drug misuse. Depictions of drug misuse may also be of concern if they present detail to teens that may be new or instructional.

Beautiful Boy features scenes in which people use various drugs, including by different methods such as snorting or injecting. Even David himself is seen using methamphetamine, which he does in an effort to understand Nic’s mindset and how the drug is affecting him. The detail across these scenes, however, is limited and unlikely to present wholly novel information to audiences. In addition to depictions of drug misuse, there are frequent verbal and visual references to drugs. Some present drug misuse in an enthusiastic or positive light, but these are forcefully countered by repeated warnings from health professionals about the consequences of drug misuse, as well as distressing scenes of people overdosing.

One particularly challenging scene from a classification perspective sees Nic and his friend, Lauren, take drugs and proceed to have sex. Content which suggests drug misuse has a positive impact on sexual performance or experience is, according to our guidelines, likely to require an 18. In the case of Beautiful Boy, however, this sequence is counterbalanced by the wholly negative portrayal of drugs, addiction and the deterioration of Nic’s health across the film. When tested in our research, audiences were supportive of the film being rated 15.

We ultimately classified the film 15 for drug misuse, frequent drug references, strong language, sex.