Australian Council on Children and the Media

About a Boy

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 (Lang. Sex. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for About a Boy
  • a review of About a Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 August 2002.

Overall comments and recommendations

Under 15 Although there is little in the film that would disturb young children, it is really only suitable for children over the age of 15 as the rating suggests.
Children over the age of 15 Should be okay for this age 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: About a Boy
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Adult themes, Low level coarse language
Length 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Will Freeman is living his life ‘as an island’. He has no responsibilities or ties and his only motivation in life is to find women to sleep with on a strictly casual basis. His income is derived from the royalties of a one hit wonder song his father wrote about 40 years ago. In order to meet single mothers, whom he sees as a good potential source for sex, he joins a single parents’ support group inventing a two year old son. There he meets Christine who introduces Will to her friend Fiona and son Marcus.

Marcus turns Will’s life around by showing him how vain and empty his life really is. Marcus befriends Will against Will’s wishes by visiting him daily after school. Marcus sees Will as the father figure he longs for and hopes will go out with his mother. Fiona is a music therapist/hippy who suffers from depression. One day after Will goes on an outing to a park with Christine, her son and Marcus (where Marcus accidentally kills a duck) they return to Marcus’s flat to find Fiona, slumped on the sofa having attempted suicide. She survives but this leaves a lasting impression on Marcus who only wants his Mum to be happy.

Marcus is also bullied at school because he is a little different and Will helps him to ‘blend in’ more with the others by buying him a cool pair of trainers. Will comes to realise that Marcus is the only person he has ever really cared about and this changes him from being a totally self absorbed, vain person to a more likeable, humane one and the boy helps the man grow up.

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.

Suicide

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.

Marcus accidentally kills a duck.

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.

Attempted suicide of mother. Marcus arrives home to find his mother slumped on the sofa with vomit all over her.

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 scene.

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.

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

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.

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

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are quite a lot of sexual references in this film as Will is always trying to get females into bed although they are mainly verbal references not visual. Will talks about single mothers as being available for passionate sex. Marcus also likes a girl in the film and Will talks to him about sex although not in much detail.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

Character drink and smoke.

Coarse language

There is frequent low level course language as well a couple of uses of the word fuck. Other words used frequently include bloody, Jesus Christ, God, shit, sod, sodding, crap, bugger, piss, bastard, asshole and shag. In addition Will makes crude comments such as he’d “rather eat a dirty nappy” and might as well “cut my own penis off”.

In a nutshell

The main theme of this film is that “no man is an island” and that people really do need other people to make their life worthwhile.

Values that parents may wish to encourage include:

  • the importance of friendship
  • endurance through adversity
  • responsibility and the consequences of a lack of responsibility
  • the ability to be different
  • resilience.

This film portrays many values that are harmful and hurt others, showing them to be ‘bad’ such as:

  • selfishness
  • lack of empathy with others
  • use of women for casual sex
  • bullying
  • having to conform to be accepted.

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