Grandma is a US drama about a teenage girl, Sage, who seeks help from her estranged grandmother, Elle, in dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, and the pair set off on a short road trip of discovery.
The BBFC received the film for classification in May 2015, without a category request. BBFC Compliance Officers noted over thirty uses of 'f**k' and a single use of 'motherf**ker' in the film. The frequency and use of this strong language goes well beyond BBFC Classification Guidelines at the 12A level, placing the film firmly at the 15 category. As well as the strong language, there are plenty of uses of more moderate, terms such as 'bastard', 'bitch' and 'slut'.
Drug misuse occurs in a scene in which Elle asks her ex-lover, Karl, 'Do you want to smoke some weed?' and he replies 'Sure, why not. You mean business'. She lights up and smokes a marijuana joint and the pair pass it back and forth, taking a few puffs. It is a prolonged scene of soft drug misuse and, although this is incidental to what is being discussed, and neither character shows obvious signs of being affected by the drugs, Compliance Officers considered there to be an element of normalisation to the scene, with no suggestion of any negative side effects. However, they also noted that the film as a whole does not promote or encourage drug use and that these are elderly people engaged in drug misuse, rather than younger characters whose actions might promote the activity to younger viewers.
The film also features an abortion theme. Eighteen-year-old Sage's decision to terminate her pregnancy is presented as quite straightforward, and not questioned by most of the characters. However, there are references to an abortion Elle underwent many years previously, which was both illegal and unpleasant and destroyed her relationship with her former partner. Therefore, the film provides some balance in showing the decision as being complex and far from consequence-free.
The subject of abortion is potentially permitted at any category, depending on the manner in which it is discussed, and Compliance Officers reasoned that here the theme did not present a 15 classification issue.
Other classification issues in the film include some moderate sex references and a scene of moderate violence, all of which would have been acceptable at 12A.
The film was passed uncut at 15, with the BBFCinsight 'strong language, drug use' highlighting the classification issues.
Grandma is also classified 15 for DVD and digital release, and was screened at the Into Film Festival 2016.