Australian Council on Children and the Media

Main Street

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Short takes

Not recommended under 10, PG to 13 (Lacks interest for young children, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Main Street
  • a review of Main Street completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 May 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to lack of interest and themes.
Children 10-12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes
Children 13 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: Main Street
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is a gentle story about a small southern town and the people in it. This town used to be a thriving metropolis. Its wealth came from a large tobacco industry and as this industry declined so did the town. Now many of the young people have left and there are few jobs and very little new development.

Miss Georgiana Carr (Ellen Burstyn) owns a large house and an old tobacco warehouse which she rents so that she can cover her expenses. Even so she is running out of money and may have to sell her house. She was born in the house and it’s the only place that she has ever lived so she is extremely upset at the prospect.  Desperate for money, she is not concerned about who rents the warehouse and doesn’t ask any questions.

Georgiana rents her warehouse to Gus Leroy (Colin Firth) who works for a company that stores hazardous waste. Not only will he pay Georgiana more money that she has received in the past but he also wants to extend the lease which means that she can keep her house. In the meantime he has talked to the mayor about a controversial plan to save the town by building a waste disposal plant there. 

This scenario is a catalyst for several stories that are interwoven throughout the movie. These involve Georgiana, her niece Willa (Patricia Clarkson), Gus Leroy, a young policeman called Harris (Orlando Bloom) and Mary (Amber Tamblyn), the girl he wants to be with. Ultimately there is an incident related to the waste disposal that makes all of them reassess their lives.

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.

Aging; change; ethical living; hazardous waste disposal

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

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.

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • Some of the characters smoke cigarettes
  • The adults drink wine with their meal

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Main Street is an unusual movie that could almost be written for theatre. It deals with change and highlights how a change can make people rethink their own lives

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

  • loyalty to the family
  • the importance of doing what is right


The main message from this movie is that you need to think about the impact of your work rather than just doing a job for the pay. Parents may also wish to discuss the problems associated with hazardous waste and its disposal.

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