Australian Council on Children and the Media

Extremely loud and incredibly close

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Not recommended under 13, Parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Extremely loud and incredibly close
  • a review of Extremely loud and incredibly close completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 February 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes and 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: Extremely loud and incredibly close
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 129 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome or Autism whose dad Thomas (Tom Hanks) died in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre. Oskar is having a hard time coming to terms with the loss of his father with whom he shared a special bond. When he finds a key amongst his father’s belongings he thinks it will lead to something his father has left for him. He sets out on the impossible task of finding out what the key opens – a task he compares to solving a mathematical equation. Over many months he searches for the answer which he hopes will make some sense of the chaos and along the way meets many people. Eventually he does find an answer although not the one he was looking for.

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.

The 9/11 attacks; loss of a parent; Autism/Asperger’s syndrome

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:

  • Several visuals and newsreel footage of the attacks on the World Trade Centre
  • Oskar has episodes when he loses control and screams and lashes out at whatever he can hit, break and destroy.
  • Oskar pinches himself and is seen with bruises all over his arms and torso.
  • Oskar and his mother have a loud verbal argument which ends with Oskar saying he wished his Mum had died instead of his father.

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 eight, including the following:

  • Oskar spends a lot of time hiding in small spaces such as the cupboard on top of the wardrobe and under tables.
  • Oskar stands in the middle of a busy road with trucks passing all around him.
  • Oskar finds a picture of a man falling from the twin towers which he magnifies on his computer and is convinced it’s his father. He makes a montage of the twin towers with a wheel that shows a man in various stages of falling to his death.
  • On the day of the attack Thomas Schell phones home several times to tell his family that he’s ok and that he loves them – he leaves the messages on the answering machine which Oskar listens to repeatedly but hides from his mother.

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.

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 eight, including the following:

  • Oskar spends a lot of time hiding in small spaces such as the cupboard on top of the wardrobe and under tables.
  • Oskar stands in the middle of a busy road with trucks passing all around him.
  • Oskar finds a picture of a man falling from the twin towers which he magnifies on his computer and is convinced it’s his father. He makes a montage of the twin towers with a wheel that shows a man in various stages of falling to his death.
  • On the day of the attack Thomas Schell phones home several times to tell his family that he’s ok and that he loves them – he leaves the messages on the answering machine which Oskar listens to repeatedly but hides from his mother.

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 in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes, particularly those from the attack on the World Trade Centre

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Fruit box
  • Cheerios

Sexual references

Oskar meets a transvestite on his travels which some children might find confusing.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • drinking at home and in a bar

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • name calling such as ‘genius’, ‘retard’ and ‘dog faeces’
  • shit
  • arsehole
  • fuck
  • Oh God

In a nutshell

Extremely loud and incredibly close is an emotionally charged drama about the loss of a parent in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre. This, and the fact that the central character is a boy who appears to have either Asperger’s syndrome or Autism  makes it unsuitable for children under 13 and recommended for a more mature audience.

The main messages from this movie are to value and accept people for their individual talents and positive abilities rather than focus on the negatives. It is also about accepting that the answers we seek are not always the ones we want.

Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include respect, acceptance and tolerance for other people.

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

  • Why did Oskar feel it necessary to lie to his mother?
  • The dangers faced by a young boy wandering the streets and knocking on the doors of strangers

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