Australian Council on Children and the Media

December Boys

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Not recommended under 10, PG to 15 (Themes, sexual references, language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for December Boys
  • a review of December Boys completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 September 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended for children under 10 due to themes, sexual references, violence and coarse language
Children aged 10-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and sexual references

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: December Boys
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references, Mild nudity, Mild violence and coarse language
Length 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based on the novel by Michael Noonan, December Boys tells the story of four orphans living in a Catholic convent in outback Australia who are sent to the seaside to stay with Bandy McAnsh (Jack Thompson) and his wife (Kris McQuade), for one summer. What is meant to be a simple holiday turns into a time that will define the boys forever. Maps (Daniel Radcliffe) learns some difficult lessons about life and love while exploring a relationship with Lucy (Teresa Palmer), a girl from down the coast. Sparks (Christian Byers), Misty (Lee Cormie) and Spit (James Fraser) spend the majority of their holiday striving to be the “most adoptable” when they learn that a childless couple Fearless (Sullivan Stapleton) and Teresa (Victoria Hill) are planning to adopt one of them. In the process the boys’ friendship is severely tested as they all try to overcome their longstanding issues with rejection. Ultimately their bonds of friendship and their enduring loyalties overcome their rivalry

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.

Adoption; living with cancer; abandonment.

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:

  • Sparks roughly shoulders Misty.
  • Maps punches Fearless in the face.
  • The boys chase Misty and pin him down in the sand, while Spit dangles spit over his (Misty's) face.
  • Maps destroys a picture that Misty had made and framed. Misty then beats Maps with the broken pieces of wood.
  • Sparks, while trying to catch a legendary fish, kills it.

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 under the age of five, including the following:

  • Maps and Misty believe that Mrs. McAnsh is dead and they sneak into her room to make sure it is true. When they stand looking over her, her eyes pop open and she grabs one of the boys’ arms saying “Pray with me!” in a very intense, creepy voice.
  • Misty falls off the rocks into the water and a rip tide gets hold of him. Maps jumps in to try to save him but he can’t swim either. The boys struggle and it looks like they will both drown before they are rescued by Fearless. The intensity and gravity of the scene may frighten some young children.

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.

Children over eight are unlikely to be scared by anything in this film.

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 over thirteen are unlikely to be scared by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • The boys frequently pour over 1960ish playboy-type magazines featuring very scantily clad women and comment on what they see.
  • The boys encourage one another to peep at different women when they are getting dressed or are in the shower. They tell one another how you can see everything, or how “she’s taking it all off.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The four boys moon another orphan and his new parents as they leave the orphanage.
  • Lucy comes out of the sea wearing only her knickers, her chest is completely exposed.
  • Lucy wears very short, tight shorts that expose part of her buttocks.
  • Lucy sits in a rocking chair in skimpy shorts exposing all of her legs, including her upper thighs and part of her buttock.
  • Lucy and Maps share a cigarette together. She sexily blows smoke towards his ear as he breathes heavily.
  • Three of the boys watch Lucy get undressed.
  • Lucy sings a “sexy” song to Maps while leaning provocatively over top of him.
  • Misty watches Mrs. McAnsh while she showers and gets a full view of her torso, including a deformed chest, presumably a result of her cancer.
  • Lucy takes Maps’ hand, places it on her upper thigh and drags it to her crotch. She then tells him to touch her breasts and the scene cuts out with him feeling her chest and her instructing him to take off his pants. When we next see them they are lying in each other’s arms and Lucy asks him to always remember her as his “first”.

Use of substances

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

  • Maps steals a bottle of beer.
  • Maps is often seen smoking throughout the film, as are other characters.
  • Lucy and Maps share a bottle of ‘grog’ together.
  • Many of the adult characters also drink and smoke.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Use of the words ‘shit’ and ‘asshole’.

In a nutshell

December Boys is a coming-of-age drama which features beautiful scenery.  Because of its themes, it is best suited to older children and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that there is more than one way to realize a dream and that sometimes what you think you have always wanted may turn out to be something you didn’t realize you’ve always had.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • loyalty
  • putting the needs of others first
  • courage
  • never losing hope or giving up, no matter how impossible something might seem.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the real-life consequences of early sexual experiences, drinking, smoking and stealing.

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