Australian Council on Children and the Media

Suckerpunch

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Not suitable under 15 due to themes, disturbing scenes and violence.

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This topic contains:

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

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not suitable due to themes, disturbing scenes and violence.
Children 15 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: Suckerpunch
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Frequent action violence and mature themes
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her younger sister, who have just lost their mother are being abused by their angry stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) who has been left out of the mother’s will. Unable to tolerate her stepfather’s abuse of her younger sister, Baby Doll attempts to shoot him. When her younger sister is killed instead, the stepfather accuses Baby Doll of the crime and she is committed to Lennox House, a psychiatric asylum. There Baby Doll overhears her stepfather bribing an orderly named Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) to arrange a lobotomy for her, to be performed in five days time.

At Lennox House Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) uses theatre techniques in treating her patients. Baby Doll is befriended by four girls: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). Baby Doll soon learns that she has a talent for dance and when she dances, she also imagines herself in fantasy worlds where she is in control and fighting zombies, dragons, robots, and other evil beings. She incorporates her friends into these alternate realities along with The Wise Man (Scott Glenn), a sage who gives her advice on reaching freedom.

Baby Doll informs the other girls of her escape plan and the five girls begin working against great odds to collect the items they need to make a bid for freedom.

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.

Loss of a parent; sexual abuse; mental illness and mental institutions

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.

Sucker Punch contains fantasy action violence, and real world verbal and physical violence, including sexual abuse.  Examples include:

  • Her drunken stepfather forces his way into Baby Doll’s room and rips the front of her top. She lashes out, scratching his face with her fingernails. He leaves, locking her in her room.
  • Baby Doll’s sister cowers in her wardrobe as her stepfather violently kicks the bedroom door open. Baby Doll, standing behind her stepfather, aims a handgun at him and fires. The bullet misses him, hitting a light and a pipe, and Baby Doll’s sister is seen slumped on the floor. Baby Doll holds her dead sister in her arms with the young girl’s blood on her hands. Baby Doll once more aims a gun at her stepfather’s head, but is unable to shoot him. 
  • Baby Doll is surrounded by several police officers, who drag her away. She is restrained and injected with a drug.
  • During a therapy session two girls erupt into an argument and then a fight - pulling hair and pushing and shoving each other.
  • A young woman punches a large man in the face. He grabs her and slams her head into a wall and then throwing her to the ground. The man appears to be about to rape her when a second young woman holds a large cook’s knife to his throat telling him to let the girl go.
  • In a fantasy battle, Baby Doll fights giant samurai warriors. She is thrown through a wooden door. She uses her sword to slash a giant’s knee and then slices his throat, causing red light to stream out of the cuts as the giant crashes to the ground. One giant fires rockets and thousands of machinegun bullets at Baby Doll. Baby Doll leaps onto a giant’s chest and shoots it directly in the eye. She uses her sword to slice one giant statue through its mid-section with red light erupting from the wounds.
  • In a fantasy World War II battle, the five young women use stylised martial arts fighting to kick and punch their mechanical enemies in the face and back, as well as using gun stocks to bludgeon the heads of the enemies. They also use swords to stab their enemies in the throat, chest and legs; no blood and gore is depicted and the women remain uninjured throughout the battle.         
  • In a fantasy battle with robots, the young woman use swords to chop off robot arms, legs and heads. We see numerous slow-motions images of robots blown apart and a robot with a powered circular saw for a hand trying to attack one of the young women. Robots are cut in half and severed torsos crawl after their attackers.
  • A man slaps a young woman hard across the face, knocking her to the ground. He stands over her, holding a large cook’s knife and we hear the slicing sound made by the knife as it stabs her.
  • Blue Jones shoots two young women in the back of the head and we hear the bodies fall to the ground with onlookers gasping in horror.
  • Baby Doll kicks a man in the groin and he punches her in the face in response.
  • Blue Jones pushes Baby Doll against a desk and attempts to kiss her. Baby Doll grabs a knife and stabs him in the shoulder with Blue Jones screaming out in pain.
  • Baby Doll appears to be given a lobotomy with a sharp spike through the eye.
  • After the apparent lobotomy, Blue begins to sexually assault Baby Doll, but is dragged away.

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:

  • In the opening scenes, we see a dead body on a table covered by a sheet, and a young woman and girl cry when the sheet is pulled back.
  • Fantasy characters including giant samurai warriors with glowing eyes, faceless robots, mechanical zombie soldiers, fire breathing dragons and other strange creatures are all likely to scare children.
  • One scene depicts the image of a man with a grotesquely scarred and disfigured face.
  • Baby Doll slits a baby dragon’s throat and delves into the wound to retrieve two precious stones covered in clear sticky fluid.

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 are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and scary scenes described above.

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 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.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A man makes reference to helpless mental patients being “hot”.
  • A young woman is shown a series of rooms in a hall and told “these are the room where we take the clients”. Reference is also made to “bringing in clients and making them feel special”. Reference is made to one young woman being saved for the “High Roller” and another reference is made to the young woman not being a virgin.
  • A man lusting after a young woman says, “Everyone gets to play with my toys but me.”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • A number of sexual assaults and attempted rapes described above under “violence”
  • Throughout the film we see young women wearing skimpy dance costumes with low-cut tops. The young women wear short shorts, micro mini skirts with splits up the side, bikini tops, tight fitting shirts, corsets and tight fitting low-cut dresses     
  • A young woman instructs another woman to distract a man and later we see her sitting on his lap nuzzling his neck and rubbing his chest as others dance for an audience of men.

Use of substances

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

  • the stepfather drinks and becomes drunk.
  • Baby Doll is injected with a sedative and quickly falls asleep.
  • a man smokes cigars
  • reference to a man selling drugs to make money.
  • people drinking in a bar.

Coarse language

There are some coarse language, name calling and put-downs in this movie. Examples include:

  • what the hell, Jesus, pig, your arse, bitch, mother fu…, (sound trails off), bullshit, you’re screwed, simple inbreed idiot  

In a nutshell

Sucker Punch is a fantasy action adventure targeting an adolescent and younger adult audience. Its themes, violence and scary scenes make it unsuitable for younger teens.

The intended message from this movie is that we all have within us the ability to survive by empowering ourselves.

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

  • self sacrifice
  • courage
  • friendship

Parents may wish to discuss the message conflict that that exists within this film. On one hand the film is saying that young women are capable of being self-empowered superheroes. However the film sends these self-empowered women into battle wearing sensually styled lingerie, push-up bras, ultra mini skirts, and tight fitting dresses. The same female characters are also depicted as sexual playthings that are fair game for exploitation by males. 

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