Australian Council on Children and the Media

Santa’s Apprentice

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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended under 6 (Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Santa’s Apprentice
  • a review of Santa’s Apprentice completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 November 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Parental guidance recommended due to some disturbing scenes
Children over 6 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: Santa’s Apprentice
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 77 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Santa (voiced by Shane Jacobson) has been in the job too long and is starting to lose his memory. The law says that it’s time for Santa to choose a boy to train as his apprentice and the requirements are that he must be named Nicholas, be an orphan and be of a pure heart. After searching the world over, the council of Santas find a suitable seven-year-old boy called Nicholas (voiced by Jack Versace) living in an orphanage in Sydney, Australia.

Nicholas is unsure that he will be able to take on the huge responsibility of being Santa Claus and the reluctance of the current Santa to give up his job adds to the challenge. Fortunately, Santa eventually realises that he must retire and does all he can to help Nicholas train to be the best Santa ever.

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.

Orphans and loss of parents

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. Another boy called Nicholas at the orphanage often bullies the other children, including:

  • taking a toy from a child just to make her cry
  • grabbing Nicholas and trying to push him
  • stealing Santa’s magic ball and shrinking all the orphans and their carer
  • fighting with Nicholas on a roof

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:

  • Santa dreams that he is thrown out of his job and home, falling from a high window before waking up
  • Nicholas accidentally sets fire to Santa’s beard with a firecracker toy

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 and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb younger children in this age group, including the following:

  • Nicholas’s best friend Felix is adopted and taken away from the orphanage, leaving the other children sad
  • Nicholas looks sadly at the photo he keeps of his parents
  • Nicholas climbs a high wall and falls off
  • The police come looking for Nicholas after Santa has taken him to the North Pole
  • There is mention of the fact that Santa doesn’t kidnap children (when in reality he has)
  • Nicholas falls off the sleigh several times while learning how to fly it
  • Nicholas falls off a chimney but Santa catches him
  • Santa is arrested for being a fake and put in jail

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.

Nothing 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.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

Nothing of concern

In a nutshell

Santa’s Apprentice is a charming Australian/French old-style animated movie set at a gentle pace. All the family, including younger children, are likely to enjoy it. All the family, including younger children, are likely to enjoy it, although the under sixes may need help with a few worrying scenes.

The main messages from this movie are the importance of perseverance and of working to overcome one’s fears.

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

  • friendship
  • helpfulness, generosity and kindness
  • selflessness and sympathy

 Parents may also wish to discuss bullying and why the bully Nicholas is the way he is.

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