Australian Council on Children and the Media

Boychoir

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Not recommended under 12, parental guidance recommended 12- 14 due to disturbing themes and scenes. Lacks interest for younger children.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Boychoir
  • a review of Boychoir completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 April 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to disturbing themes and scenes. Lacks interest for younger children
Children 12 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing themes and scenes
Children aged 14 and over OK 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: Boychoir
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild bullying violence and themes
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Stet Tate (Garrett Wareing) is an 11 year old boy living with his troubled single mother Debbie (Erica Piccininni). Stet finds himself alone when his mother is killed in a car crash and he then meets his father (Josh Lucas) for the first time. His father has another family who know nothing of Stet, and he doesn’t want them to find out, so Stet is sent to board at the American Boy Choir School, the top choir school in the country.

Stet has a gift for singing but he finds it very hard to conform to the rigours of boarding school. The choirmaster, Mr Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) recognises both the talent and the conflict in Stet, and pushes him hard to achieve his potential. Meanwhile Stet has to contend with bullying from his roommate Raffi (River Alexander) and the jealousy of top boy Devon (Joe West).

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.

Single parenting; alcohol abuse; death of a parent; abandonment by a parent; bullying

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:

  • Stet is bullied at school – a boy throws a towel at him in the bathroom and all the boys laugh at him.
  • Raffi throws all of Stet’s clothes out of the window.
  • Stet smashes a window in anger and makes Raffi’s stereo explode in his face.
  • Stet attacks Devon and punches him several times before he is stopped.

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 , there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A car crash scene is shown with the car upside down and Debbie lying sprawled out underneath the car.

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.

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 aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Debbie is shown passed out on the sofa. Stet pours a bottle of alcohol down the sink and watches his mother take a bath.

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 could also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes and the following:

  • Stet’s father doesn’t want his family to know about Stet and pays the school a large sum of money to take Stet off his hands.
  • All the boys go home for Christmas except for Stet who hides in his room and is left to fend for himself by finding what food he can in the kitchen.
  • Devon hacks into Stet’s personal file and discovers that his mother Debbie had been to prison. He prints out multiple copies of Debbie’s prison photo, displays them around the school and hands them out to all the boys.

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.

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

Product placement

Apple computers

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • Debbie is obviously an alcoholic, which has caused much damage to hers and Stet’s lives.
  • Drinking of wine at meals.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “piss off”; “arse’; “screw you”

In a nutshell

Boychoir is a drama about young boys at a boarding school whose main focus is choir singing. Lovers of classical choir music will enjoy this movie and there are some great performances from Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates as the school principal. The film is not recommended for children under 12 and parental guidance is recommended for the 12 to 14 age group. Stet’s family situation, with a father who doesn’t want to know about him and an alcoholic mother, and the bullying at the school, result in some intense scenes which may disturb primary school children and young teens, particularly those who identify with Stet’s situation. The film is likely to lack interest for very young viewers.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • adversity can be overcome with determination
  • making use of your given talents can enable you to find yourself

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

  • determination and hard work
  • willingness to change
  • forgiveness

Parents may also wish to discuss the following issues:

  • Although life had treated Stet very hard, could he have made more of an attempt to be friendly with the other boys? How should bullies be handled?
  • Stet broke into a vending machine and all of the boys helped themselves to packets of chips etc. No repercussions are shown in the movie but would that be the case in real life?

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