Australian Council on Children and the Media

Golden Years

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Not recommended under 13 due to themes, sexual references 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 Golden Years
  • a review of Golden Years completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 December 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes, sexual references and scenes that may scare younger children.
Children 13 and over OK for this 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: Golden Years
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, sexual references and coarse language
Length 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Retirees Arthur (Bernard Hill) and Martha (Virginia McKenna) Goode enjoy a quiet, comfortable life socialising with friends and playing bowls and bingo at their local community club. However all that changes in a single day when Arthur learns that his wife in no longer eligible for health care and that his retirement fund has collapsed, leaving him and Martha penniless.  A number of Arthur and Martha’s friends from the club have suffered similar fates.

Feeling desperate, Arthur decides to rob the local bank, and through a comedy of errors and unexpected outcomes manages to get away with 50,000 pounds. When Martha accidentally discovers Arthur’s secret stash of bank notes, the pair decides that if Arthur can get away with robbing a bank by accident then they could definitely be successful with more planning, and embark on a spree of bank robberies.

The success of the robberies results in the police believing that they are looking for a well- organised gang of professional criminals.  Ageing detective Sid (Alun Armstrong), close to retirement age himself, and his trusty younger side-kick Dave (Nigel Allen) are determined to catch the gang but are hampered at every turn by the ambitious and backstabbing DI Stringer (Brad More).

When their community club needs to be saved, Arthur and Martha decide to call in the assistance of a few of their close friends to rob bank executives of their bonus fund, but all does not go as planned.   

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.

Ageing and the treatment of the elderly; relationships; bank robbery

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 some violence and accidental harm, much of it slapstick. Examples include:

  • Several scenes depict a man driving a car in a fast reckless manner along a suburban street. The speeding car narrowly misses an old man who drops his his shopping as he jumps out of the way. Towards the end of the film a similar scene occurs, but this time the old man confronts the driver of the car with a paint gun, covering the car’s windscreen with paint.  
  • In one scene an old man complains that he is being mistreated by not being fed and being locked in his room.
  • We hear how an old man attempted suicide by taking three times the dose of his prescribed pain medication; he says, “I just wanted to go”.
  • In one scene a security guard trips over a man’s walking frame, crashes head first into an armoured van and is knocked unconscious. Later we hear that the guard broke his nose in the incident.
  • In several scenes a man and woman, who are wearing masks and raincoats, rob banks. They use cucumbers wrapped in bags - telling the people that they are guns and they will use them. The couple use paintball guns to fire at cameras and the bank staff are covered in paint. The couple place a fake bomb on the floor of the bank, telling staff and customers that the bomb will explode if anyone moves. They also detonate smoke bombs to fill the bank with smoke while they escape.
  • In one scene a man runs into an old couple pushing a shopping trolley, the force of the impact nearly knocking the couple to the ground.
  • A man is accidentally hit in the face by a caravan door and knocked unconscious. A short time later we see the injured man with a bloody nose and bloody cuts and bruises to his face. In a later scene the same man is hit in the face by a door and is knocked unconscious again.
  • One scene depicts police snipers armed with assault rifles on roof tops; no shots are fired.

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:

  • An old man becomes distressed when he believes his wife is dead -she is actually fast asleep.
  • A man collapses while in a shop. In the next scene we hear that the man died and see a coffin being carried at a funeral.

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 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 be scared 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

Valencia caravans

Sexual references

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

  • An elderly woman says to a second elderly woman: “How’s your toy boy, still off his game?” To which the second woman responds “I haven’t had any tickle, let alone slap.” 
  • A woman says that another woman pined away for the want of a sausage.
  • A woman makes reference to having sexual relations with male prostitutes. She says, “If my wig’s not on back to front when we’re through I want my money back”.
  • A woman opens her bag and shows several other old women the contents. She makes reference to using sex aids - “playthings”, and we hear the sound of motors whirring.
  • A police officer talks about an unsuccessful date and is ridiculed by other police officers for handcuffing his date to his bed.
  • An older woman reminisces about her past sexual activity, stating “I had him in 1965 up against a wall”.     

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity in this movie, including:

  • A man is seen dressed in a short dressing gown which reveals a small part of his buttocks.
  • A man stands in a tanning salon, naked except for G string underpants. His body rotates while being sprayed with tanning solution.

Use of substances

There is some substance use. Examples include:

  • Social drinking of alcohol by adults
  • A man steals a bottle from a drug cabinet at a clinic. He later takes pours some of the contents onto a cloth which he then sniffs. He immediately loses consciousness but is uninjured.         

Coarse language

The film contains low-level language throughout and some name calling. Examples include:

  • bleeding; buggered; bloody; Jesus; arse; tart 

In a nutshell

Golden Years is a crime comedy targeting an older adolescent and adult audience who are likely to enjoy cheering for the unlikely heroes.  The cast includes some of Britain’s finest film and TV drama actors. The film is not recommended for children under 13 due to its themes, sexual references and a number of scenes that might scare younger children.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Crime does pay if you are a victim of crime to begin with.
  • Sometime you have to take the law into your own hands in order to get fairness/justice.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include fairness, selflessness and generosity.

Parents may wish to discuss with their children whether the characters depicted in the film were criminals, or the victims of crime, or both. Was breaking the law the only option open to the film’s characters to obtain justice?

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