Australian Council on Children and the Media

Elizabethtown

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Lang. Themes.)

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This topic contains:

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

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to its coarse language and adult themes, this movie is not recommended for children under 8.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance is recommended for children aged between 8 to 13 years.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 could view this movie with or without parental guidance.

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: Elizabethtown
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent coarse language
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is a successful designer with Mercury Worldwide Shoes. When his latest design for the company is a complete failure, resulting in a 972 million dollar loss, he is fired by his boss (Alec Baldwin), dumped by his girlfriend (Jessica Biel) and he begins contemplating suicide. His plans are put on hold when his sister rings to tell him their father, Mitchell, has just died. Drew is sent by his mother (Susan Sarandon) to bring his father’s body home.

Drew travels to Elizabethtown in Kentucky, befriending a friendly stewardess, Claire(Kirsten Dunst) on the way. He is warmly welcomed by his father’s extended family, with whom he has had little contact for many years. Over the course of the next few days, and with the assistance of Claire’s persistent optimism, Drew learns more about his father and family, while coping with his own sense of loss and failure.

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 one mild instance of violence when a video is put on for the children to watch. The video shows a man blowing up a home. It is shown for comic effect and all the children watching it are enthralled.

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.

There are a few scenes that could concern children under the age of five, including:

  • when Drew returns home after being fired, he sets up his exercise bike and attaches a knife to it with the intention of killing himself. Although there are some comical moments (e.g. the knife dislodging, getting interrupted by a phone call) that lighten the mood of the scene, young children may still be concerned.
  • Drew attends a viewing of his father’s body at the funeral home. His father is shown lying in the casket and at one point following Drew’s train of thoughts, his father smiles.
  • During the Memorial service, Drew’s cousin’s band, Rukus, perform. Their stage prop, a giant papier mache bird, catches on fire as it flies over the guests. The guests are shown initially to scream and run out of the room, but later as the sprinklers come on, they are laughing and dancing.

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 scared or 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.

Despite the comic effect, some children over the age of eight could be concerned by the scene in which Drew is in the process of committing suicide.

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.

Despite the comic effect, some children over the age of thirteen could be concerned by the scene in which Drew is in the process of committing suicide.

Sexual references

The film contains one scene in which Drew and Claire kiss and move to the ground. Drew’s voiceover suggests that all they would do is kiss that night. The next scene shows them in the morning in Drew’s room. Claire is finishing getting dressed and Drew is asleep in bed. When Claire goes into the lobby, the all-weekend wedding party group give her a rousing cheer.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There are a few instances where alcohol is used, including:

  • a work Christmas party is shown with people drinking alcohol
  • similarly at Drew’s father’s Memorial service, guests are shown to drink alcohol, but no one is drunk
  • the hotel where Drew stays is also the venue for an all weekend wedding party. In one scene, Drew attempts to steal a bottle of beer from the party and is caught by the intoxicated groom, Chuck. Chuck is a friendly drunk and the scene is depicted in a humorous manner.
  • Claire gatecrashes the bride’s ‘hen party’ and when she later meets up with Drew, is shown to be a little intoxicated.

Coarse language

There was occasional use of coarse language in this movie, including:

  • shit
  • fucking
  • shit
  • ass-kicking

In a nutshell

The main messages from the movie relate to not giving up after failure, no matter how great that may be, the importance of family and being a good parent.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • endurance through adversity
  • responsibility
  • being supportive of your family
  • liking and accepting people for being themselves
  • This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their consequences, such as giving up after failure, and the inappropriateness of some of Samson’s behaviour (Drew’s cousin)

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