Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ghostbusters

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Short takes

Not recommended under 12; parental guidance recommended 12-14 due to violence, disturbing scenes and characters and coarse language.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ghostbusters
  • a review of Ghostbusters completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 July 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and characters, and coarse language
Children 12 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and characters, and coarse language
Children 14 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: Ghostbusters
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild supernatural themes and coarse language, some scenes may scare young children
Length 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ghostbusters is a re-make of the classic 1984 comedy action film. It follows the exploits of paranormal scientists Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and ex subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) as they set out to prove that ghosts really do exist in New York. Their quest is made easier when the deranged Rowan North (Neil Casey), who is bent on bringing about the apocalypse, invents a device that creates a portal which allows ghosts to enter the world and wreak havoc.

It’s up to the Ghostbusters to stop North and prevent demonic ghosts from destroying New York city.     

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.

Ghosts and the supernatural; demonic possession; the apocalypse

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.

The film contains action violence and peril (much of which is cartoon-like with a comical intent) and the depiction of some mass destruction of property. No blood and gore are depicted. Examples include:

  • A man guiding a tour of a mansion tells people that in 1894 the daughter of the mansion’s owner stabbed to death the household servants who are now sometimes seen as ghosts. He tells how after the killings the father locked his daughter in a cellar where she died years later and her body was walled up in the cellar.  
  • A woman releases a ghost from a trap.  It explodes from the trap, picks up a man sitting in a chair and throws the man out of the window.
  • A man attaches himself to a large machine and electrocutes himself; we see his skeleton as he is electrocuted and he falls down dead. 
  • Green mist erupts out of a sink drain and engulfs the head of a woman. She smiles in a demonic manner, suggesting that she has been possessed. She enters a laboratory and begins to smash equipment, then knocks down one woman while grabbing a second woman by the throat, dangling her out of the window and letting her go. The woman is caught by a third woman who then slaps the possessed woman several times hard across the face and we see a green mist shoot out of the possessed woman’s body.
  • A man possessed by a demon spirit punches one policeman in the face while grabbing a second by the throat, lifting him into the air and slamming him against a wall. The man the proceeds to kick both policemen while they are lying on the ground.
  • A man grabs hold of a red hot door knob and burns his hand. An invisible ghost throws a chair at the man, then hurls him through the air across the room and into a wall, cracking plaster. The man runs into the basement where he finds the floor breaking apart and green glowing slime rising up out of the cracks. The man then runs up a staircase which collapses underneath him as he is engulfed in green mist.
  • Four women armed with techno weapons and gadgets confront an army of ghosts. The women use laser rifles that fire coils of electrical energy that restrain ghosts; hand guns that emit bolts of energy that blow ghosts backwards and grenades that explode in green light that vaporises ghosts. One of the women uses two handguns in a stylised manner, shooting a number of ghosts. At the end of the battle many smoking ghost carcases lie on the ground.
  • A man-sized ghost appears within a sky scraper and grows until it breaks open the building. It marches through the city streets, destroying buildings and crushing cars, as people run away in terror.
  • A giant ghost drags a woman into a vortex. A second woman hooks a cable to her belt and jumps into the vortex in an attempt to rescue the first woman. The second woman floats around in the vortex until she is able to grab hold of the first woman and they are pulled to safety as the vortex closes behind them.

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, the many ghosts and transformations in the film are likely to be particularly scary for children under the age of five:

  • Some of the ghosts are depicted as floating transparent emaciated people with skeletal faces, glowing red eyes and green slime coming from their mouths.
  • One ghost appears as a younger woman who floats through the air as if under water, with her long hair flowing out around her.
  • Two ghosts (a couple) appear as large shapeless jelly-like blobs with mouth and eyes who flirt with each other while driving a car in a reckless manner crashing into other cars and building walls.   
  • One scene contains cartoon-like images of a giant snowman-like creature with massive shark-like teeth.
  • A shop mannequin comes to life and chases a woman who runs into a room and locks the door. The mannequin kicks down the door but is shot with power beams and transforms into a winged demon that rises up into the air. The demon terrorises a concert hall full of people (no injuries depicted) before being shot.
  • Throughout the film we see images of ghosts and demon creatures trapped within mirrors- pushing their hands against the mirrors as if trying to escape.
  • A woman who is possessed by a demon rotates her head around 360 degrees

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 group are also likely to find the above-mentioned scenes and characters disturbing.

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 may also be scared by the above-mentioned violent and scary 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.

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

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Sony video cameras
  • food products (chips)
  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • You Tube

Sexual references

The film contains low-level covert sexual references and innuendo scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • A woman covered in slime says, “That stuff went everywhere - I mean every crack”.
  • A woman tells a man that her name begins with an E, which she states is an E for “Everything you want”
  • At a job interview a woman interviewing a man asks him if he is seeing anyone at the moment. A second woman makes reference to liking the idea of having the man at their work to look at.
  • A man shows a Ghostbusters logo that looks like a female ghost with comically large breasts.
  • A woman says she is attracted to husky men in hats.
  • A woman licks her two hand guns in a suggestive manner.
  • A woman asks a second woman if she got her virginity out of the lost and found.  

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • A woman is seen bending over her desk moving her bottom in s sensual manner in time to dance music while a man looked on.
  • In a number of scenes a woman wears a ‘boob tube’ that exposes her midriff.
  • A man holds up photographs depicting him with a bare chest.

Use of substances

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

  • A woman says in a joking manner “Am I on crack?”
  • A woman says “I’d talk to you at an AA meeting”.
  • The Mayor of New York City suggests that terrorists drugged the water supply resulting in mass hallucinations.
  • Social drinking in a bar and restaurant.

Coarse language

There is coarse language and crude humour throughout movie, including:

  • Stuck up your butt; Jesus; holy crap; arses (used several time in a variety of ways); bitches; suck it; piss off; O shit; screw that
  • Crazy; insane; stupid; freak show; dumb dude; idiots.    
  • Jokes about flatulence; dirty pants and subway tunnels smelling like urine

In a nutshell

Ghostbusters is an entertaining comedy horror film targeted at adolescents and adults. It is a humorous retake on the 1984 film,  with a gender swap for many roles and cameo appearances from the stars of the earlier film. Older teens are likely to enjoy the film but there is plenty  to scare young children so it is not recommended for viewers under 12 and parental guidance is suggested for the 12 to 14 age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Believe in yourself regardless of what others think.
  • Women can do whatever men can do.
  • Friendship and teamwork can triumph over insurmountable odds.

Parents may wish to discuss what the film has to say about gender roles.

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