Australian Council on Children and the Media

Earth to Echo

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Not recommended under 10, PG 10-12 due to themes and scenes that may scare younger children.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Earth to Echo
  • a review of Earth to Echo completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 August 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to themes and some scary scenes
Children aged 10 to 12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children aged 12 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: Earth to Echo
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 91 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Earth to Echo is a science fiction action-adventure story that follows the journey of three friends: Tuck (Brian Bradley), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm). When a new highway construction project begins within their neighbourhood of Mulberry Woods in Las Vegas, families begin to be forced out of their homes. During their last week in Mulberry Woods, the three friends start to receive mysterious encoded messages on their personal phones. When they tell their parents and the authorities, they receive little support - the adults fail to take them seriously. When construction men come and delivernew phones to the residents of the neighbourhood, the boys become even more suspicious and hide their old mobiles.

Equipped with their curiosity and strong friendship, Tuck, Munch and Alex set out on a journey to discover a way to crack the code on their own. Munch eventually discovers that the encoded message he received is actually an image of a desert approximately 20 miles away from their homes. On their last night, the three ride their bikes out to the desert and are shocked to realise they may have discovered more than they had bargained for, coming into contact with a strange being from another world who is in desperate need of their help. The alien robot, named Echo, is stranded on earth and needs assistance in rebuilding his spaceship.

However, the boys and their new friend run into trouble as they discover that the construction men were in fact undercover operatives investigating the missing spaceship.

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.

Alien activity; friendship; conformity versus rebellion

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:

  • The undercover construction workers threaten violence against Echo, and torture him by running tests with probes.
  • There is a physical altercation between two young boys in an alleyway at night – they shout at each other, pushing and shoving one another up against a fence.
  • We hear that an older girl used to beat up two younger boys in the school playground.

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:

  •  The boys are initially scared and apprehensive when they first encounter the alien robot Echo and younger children may also find him scary.  However, he soon proves to be a friend.

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.

Younger children in this age group may also find Echo scary at first. There is also a scene when, after the boys are kidnapped, one of them, in tears, sends a farewell message on his phone in case he is never seen again.

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be upset by the scene when the tearful boy sends a farewell message

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 film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Computers and mobile phones
  • YouTube

Sexual references

The film contains mild sexual references, including:

  • Tuck asks Emma out on a date and talks about being romantically interested in her – although she refuses to give Tuck her phone number initially, the two form a deeper relationship as the film progresses.
  • The boys discuss how two other students at their school are ‘kissing buddies’.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains mild sexual activity, including:

  • An older man and woman are seen to kiss briefly whilst sitting at a bar.
  • In an adult country bar, several women are dressed in sexually revealing clothing, wearing short skirts and low-cut shirts.

Use of substances

The film contains some substance use, including:

  • Tuck, Munch and Alex enter a bar – beer bottles and glasses of whiskey are seen behind the bar and on nearby tables. However, no one is seen drinking.
  • At a college party, students are seen holding opaque cups – it is implied that these cups contain alcohol, although no one is actually seen drinking.

Coarse language

The film contains mild language, including:

  • Mild name-calling and insulting terms such as ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘weirdo’ and ‘stupid’ are used.
  • Religious exclamations such as ‘Oh my god!’ are used multiple times.
  • Exclamations such as ‘Shut up’ and ‘What the F---’.

In a nutshell

Earth to Echo is a motivational film that promotes friendships and relationships as the foundation of a happy life. Tuck, Munch and Alex remain friends throughout the film, despite the challenges that are thrown their way. The story also depicts the importance of coming to one’s own conclusions and not being judgmental, with the alien robot Echo showing the boys that there is more to the world than they had once thought.

There is some violence, younger children might find Echo scary, and the film’s themes suit it more to children 12 and over. Some parents may be concerned that the boys, as role models, steal and drive a car, lie to their parents and get into some other  risky situations. The hand-held camera filming style may make viewing difficult for some people and the film more confusing for younger children.

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

  • The importance of maintaining strong friendships, and allowing your friends to both support and challenge you.
  • Allowing yourself to be open to new possibilities, and to trusting strangers who prove themselves to be decent.
  • Fighting for causes that you strongly believe in, and not giving up when faced with obstacles.

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