Australian Council on Children and the Media

A Heartbeat Away

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 due to violence, coarse language and lack of interest for younger viewers.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Heartbeat Away
  • a review of A Heartbeat Away completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 September 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence, coarse language and lack of interest
Children 8-12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and coarse language
Children 13 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A Heartbeat Away
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language, sexual references and violence
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kevin Flack (Sebastian Gregory) is an aspiring rock musician who is constantly at loggerheads with his father Edwin (William Zappa). Edwin is the director of a marching band which spectacularly lost an ‘at home’ competition twenty years earlier when a downpour caused the band to collapse into the mud. Edwin has never got over this public humiliation and has turned into a bitter and angry old man.  He is determined to win the next competition but his plans are seriously disrupted when he’s hit by a truck and finds himself laid up in hospital.

Kevin is somehow persuaded to take over from his Dad and organise the band for the coming event. An added motivation is the fact that developers are planning to take over the club’s meeting rooms and if the band fails, it’s certain doom.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family disharmony

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Constant verbal abuse from Edwin directed at both Kevin and the band members.
  • Edwin throws things at the nursing staff
  • The band fight among themselves
  • Kevin’s band member Tripod beats Kevin up.
  • Tripod also has a fight with another band member.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • The marching band is shown at the start of the film collapsing into mud, with no explanation about what is happening.
  • Edwin is hit by a truck (not actually shown) but he ends up in hospital bruised and battered, with his arm and a leg in plaster and a neck brace on.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

OK for this age group

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Tripod refers to Kevin’s girlfriend Mandy (Isabel Lucas) as “a slag” and as frigid. Another member asks Tripod if this is because she wouldn’t sleep with him.
  • Playing a guitar is likened to having ‘sex with frets’.

Nudity and sexual activity

Mandy and Kevin kiss

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • drinking in pubs, at home, at work, on the beach

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bastard
  • arse
  • holy crap
  • shit
  • grumpy old farts
  • Christ
  • piss off
  • bugger

In a nutshell

A Heartbeat Away is a comedy with an unlikely, but nevertheless predictable, plot that might appeal to younger teens and some adults.

The main messages from this movie are to accept people for who they are despite the fact that they have different tastes from your own, and not to give up when times are hard.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • forgiveness
  • acceptance and tolerance
  • diversity

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • how negative family relationships can lead to a lack of trust and self-esteem.

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