Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bewitched

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Short takes

Parental guidance to 13 (Sex. Lang. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bewitched
  • a review of Bewitched completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 July 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to its sexual references, coarse language and adult themes, this movie is not recommended for children under the age of 8. Younger children in this age bracket will probably find the movie boring.
Children aged 8-13 Due to the number of sexual references, this film is not recommended for children between the ages of eight to thirteen.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 would benefit from parental guidance when seeing this movie.

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: Bewitched
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references, Mild themes, Mild coarse language
Length 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fading, self-absorbed, movie star Jack Whyatt (Will Ferrel) is desperate to get his career back on track and believes that his playing the lead role of Darrin, in the remake of the sitcom Bewitched, is just the thing to do it, especially if they can cast a ‘nobody’ to play the role of Samantha.

Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) is a real broom-flying, spell-casting, witch who wants nothing more than to be normal. She leaves her home and family, and moves to the Valley where she does her best to ‘fit in’. She is inadvertently ‘discovered’ by Jack and winds up agreeing to play the role of Samantha. It isn’t long before she discovers that she is just being used and manipulated and quickly decides to get even. After a number of spells go awry, and despite the advice of her war-lock father Nigel (Michael Caine), Jack and Isabel begin to fall in love. The relationship is challenged when Isabel decides to tell Jack the truth about who she really is.

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 are a couple of instances of violence:

  • Isabel uses magic to help a heavy set of stage lights fall and crush Jack’s soon-to-be-ex-wife into the ground. She then admits that perhaps that was a little harsh and rewinds the spell.
  • When Isabel tells Jack that she is a witch, he gets very scared and grabs a tree branch which he jabs and waves at her in order to keep her away from him.

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.

While not a scary film, there were a couple of scenes that could be disturbing to very young viewers:
while shopping with Isabel in the supermarket, Nigel repeatedly transforms into a variety of characters seen on food labels, such as the Jolly Green Giant. The scene itself is not scary and is intended to be funny, but some very young children may be confused and worried by the successive transformations.

  • On a number of occasions characters, are threatened with witchcraft, such as getting turned into a frog or sprouting a tail. The threats are never carried out, but are voiced in an angry manner.
  • Isabel gets very angry when she discovers that she is being used and manipulated. She walks back to the studio and causes a storm to brew on a backdrop, blasts the doors open without touching them and sends a rack of clothing spinning across the stage. There is a lot of wind, and a lot of angry energy in the scene.

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 scenes mentioned above.

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.

Some children in the eight to thirteen age bracket may need some parental guidance with 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.

It is unlikely that children in this age group will be frightend by material in this film.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are several sexual references in the movie, including:

  • Isabel says “It’s like the rich men who never know why women sleep with them.” Nigel responds saying: “At least they sleep with them.”
  • Jack’s agent tells Jack to “Be the Sheriff of Ballsville.”
  • Jack says to Isabel: “Lets make love in a hot air balloon. Let’s make love in a candy factory. Let’s make love in a petting zoo. Let’s make love on the back of a killer whale.”
  • After a neighbour calls Jack ‘a Dick’, Isabel asks what that is and is informed all about the male reproductive organ.
  • Nigel is constantly hitting on girls half his age throughout the film. He is only rebuffed twice. The first informs him that they can spend the night together, but in the morning things will not be so pleasant, and the second tells him that she has hepatitis C.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contained only one instance of nudity. During a dream, Jack walks naked onto the Conan O’Brien show. His buttocks and genitals are shown as blurred by censors.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances, including:

  • Jack, acting as Darrin, says “I need a drink” and moments later a smoking cocktail is placed in his hands.
  • Guests are served wine and champagne at a party hosted by Jack.
  • After getting a low screen test score Jack asks the producers if the studio audience is on drugs. He gets more and more agitated, and then repeatedly asks if they are on crack.

Coarse language

There are a few instances of mild course language.

  • ‘What the hell happened?’
  • “You called me out on all my crap.”
  • Isabel’s next door neighbour calls Jack “a dick.”
  • Jack’s agent repeatedly calls him “a pussy.”

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is to be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished no matter what other people think. Parents may wish to discuss with older children the concept of magic, and discuss the real life consequences of dishonesty or playing with people’s lives.

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