Australian Council on Children and the Media

Escape from Planet Earth

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Escape from Planet Earth
  • a review of Escape from Planet Earth completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 5 - 10 Parental guidance recommended due to violent and scary scenes
Children 10 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: Escape from Planet Earth
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: mild animated violence
Length 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Escape from Planet Earth is an animated science fiction film about two alien astronauts, Gary (voiced by Rob Corddry) and his brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser) who lead all of the space expeditions from their planet Baab.    Scorch is the more favoured and heroic of the two, gaining fame from the expeditions that he completes, while Gary is the easily forgotten brains behind Scorch’s brawn.  Jealous and competitive, Gary struggles to relate to his brothers showiness and during one of many sibling fights he quits the job he loves at mission control. 

In Gary’s absence, Scorch agrees to lead a solo mission to the ‘Dark Planet’ - Earth.  However, when Scorch arrives on Earth, he finds the inhabitants unfriendly and is captured by the aggressive military Commander, General Shanker (William Shatner). Scorch is taken to Area 51 and kept as an alien prisoner.

The inhabitants of Planet Baab are shocked when one their most famous and beloved heroes vanishes.  Gary’s son Kip (Jonathon Morgan Heit) is particularly devastated by the news of his uncle’s disappearance and, channelling his uncle’s courage, sets out to lead a mission to the ‘Dark Planet’ to save him.  Gary and his wife Kirra (Sarah Jessica Parker) intercept Kip’s plan at the last moment but Gary, inspired by Kip’s bravery, sets out to save his brother and prove to the world that he too can be a hero.

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.

Aliens; a child running away from home; kidnapping

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 following examples:

  • During a mission Scorch is chased by ‘baby eating Narlaps’ which are scary and slimy aliens.  Scorch, and the babies he is rescuing, escape unharmed.
  • A montage of real footage which displays the cruelty of humans includes a plane crash, war and guns, people being shot, and Hitler.
  • Scorch falls for a blow up doll.  When it is shot by a dart bullet Scorch becomes distressed as he thinks the doll has died.
  • When Scorch is captured by the humans a fight erupts and Scorch is seen to fight the humans with guns.  He punches and throws the humans until the humans shoot Scorch with a dart gun.  Captain Shanker hits Scorch over the head after he has collapsed. 
  • When Gary reaches Earth his space pod begins a self distruct sequence whilst he is inside, Gary escapes a moment before the pod blows up.
  • There are many scenes of people being shot by dart guns.
  • A woman is vapourised by a laser gun.
  • A massive dog-like alien eats another smaller alien and threatens to eat Gary and Scorch. They get away.
  • A fight between the aliens and the humans involves punching, throwing, laser guns and freeze guns.  Humans are frozen and thrown to the ground unconscious.
  • Aliens are made to wear an electric shock collar, and are shocked if they do not obey.
  • Shanker is building a ‘peace shield’ which is a giant gun intended to destroy the universe.
  • Gary punches Shanker in the face and he falls to the ground.
  • Spaceships fight and pursue each other.  Two fighter planes smash into a cliff face during the pursuit.

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:

  • Two of the main characters are trapped in glass cylinders which are filled with water.  They are seen underwater, unable to breathe and drowning when the water is frozen.  Later in the movie they are released and seen alive and well.
  • Three characters fall from a spaceship and say their good byes as they think they will die, but are saved at the last minute by other aliens.

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 are also likely to 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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of 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.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

There is some product placement in this movie, including;

  • 7-Eleven
  • 7-Eleven Slurpee
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There are a number of scenes involving suggestive behaviour and flirting (eye fluttering, seductive posing, air kissing, sexy clothing)
  • Reference to an intergalactic dating service and an intergalactic relationship
  • “How did you hook that up?” is asked of Gary about his beautiful wife
  • Online dating between Rena and Shanker

 

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • There are a number of scenes of passionate kissing between Kirra and Gary, and Scorch and his girlfriend.
  • A man is seen in nothing but a towel which is blown off him - the angle is such that nothing is seen.

Use of substances

There is reference to a sugary alien drink which is 80% sugar.  The drink is mentioned, drunk and marketed throughout the movie.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language and name calling that children may imitate, including:

  • shut up
  • idiots
  • useless moron

In a nutshell

Escape from Planet Earth is an animated children’s science-fiction film about two alien brothers on an unexpected mission to save the universe and prove their loyalty to each other. Violent and scary scenes make it unsuitable for children under 5 and parental guidance is recommended for 5-10 year olds. There are some scary characters, scenes of people fighting with aliens, and both people and aliens in danger and being killed.

The main messages from this movie are about the bond between family members and about having the courage to stand up for what is right.

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

  • Courage and bravery
  • Kindness and acceptance of all regardless of their differences

 Other discussion topics raised by the film include:

  • The behaviour of the humans when the aliens come to Earth.  Do you think that this is how humans would react?  Was the way the aliens were treated fair? 
  • The online dating between Shanker and Rena.  What are the dangers of online dating?  How were the online personalities presented by Shanker and Rena different from their true selves? 

 

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