Australian Council on Children and the Media

Driving Lessons

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 15 (Moderate coarse language; adult themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Driving Lessons
  • a review of Driving Lessons completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 June 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended under 8 years. due to coarse language and themes
Children aged 8-15 Parental guidance recommended due to coarse language and adult themes.

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: Driving Lessons
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate coarse language
Length 94 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Seventeen-year-old Ben (Rupert Grint) is the frustrated and repressed child of an Anglican minister and his model Christian wife (Laura Linney). Summer holidays have begun and he has yet again failed his driving test, which he realises is due to the poor teaching skills of mother. Adding to Ben’s woes is his mother’s expectation that he will help her out in all her church duties (including acting as a tree in her church play production), his growing suspicion that his mother is having an affair with the young church deacon, his parents’ strained and tense relationship, and his own inability to communicate with his secret crush, Sarah.
When his mother takes in a vagrant as part of her Christian duty, she asks Ben to get a summer job to help financially with his care in their home. Ben applies for the post of companion to retired actress, Dame Evie (Julie Walters) and, after he gets the job, realises that he has taken on more than he can handle. Evie’s exuberant take on life and her ‘devil may care’ attitude are both a shock and an eye-opening experience for Ben. In Evie, he finds someone who appreciates his poetry and in Ben, Evie finds a good friend.
When Evie decides to go on a camping trip, Ben agrees (under duress and as he points out, without a licence) to drive Evie. Having begun to break the rules and constraints placed on his life by his mother, Ben takes the even bigger step of going on a road trip to Edinburgh for what might be Evie’s last performance.

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 breakdown, alcohol dependence

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:

  • Ben’s mother is run down by a car driven by the vagrant man. The actual impact is not shown, but we later see her in hospital attached to IV fluids and with plaster casts on.

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:

  • While in the bath, Ben is shown to be disturbed by his parents fighting and angry voices. He submerges himself under the water to drown out the sounds.
  • In one scene, Ben finds Evie unconscious on the floor. He tries to rouse her and appears worried. She eventually wakes and urgently tells Ben to take her to the sink. She then promptly vomits. (She has been drinking, as evidenced by many empty bottles around 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 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.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by 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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Ben gets the courage to read Sarah a poem he has written for her, which contains a reference to her breasts.
  • In an attempt to provoke Ben, Evie talks loudly on a bus and says that she expects that “he is gay”. He angrily denies it.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • In Edinburgh, Ben goes out with a publicist, who takes Ben back home with her. She asks whether this is ‘his first time’. They kiss and she leads him to her bed, where they kiss again. The next morning, Ben is shown asleep in her bed, shirtless. She enters the room, dressed, and offers him breakfast.

Use of substances

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

  • There are many scenes in which Evie is shown drinking wine, and on a number of occasions she is clearly drunk.
  • Evie also clearly encourages/coerces the underage Ben to drink with her. He is then seen to drink in a number of subsequent scenes. He also goes to a pub and is offered a beer.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bugger, bloody hell, sodding bastard, fuck, sod off, goody-bloody-two-shoes, shit, poo, tits, arse.

In a nutshell

Driving Lessons is a coming of age road movie about an unexpected friendship and living life with no regrets.

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

  • Friendship
  • Loyalty
  • Accepting  and respecting yourself
  • Live life with no regrets

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

  • Lying, stealing
  • Breaking the law (driving with no license, drinking underage)
  • Infidelity
  • Family breakdown and poor communication.

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