Buckley's Chance

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Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 13 (violence, language, perilous scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Buckley's Chance
  • a review of Buckley's Chance completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 June 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to violence, language and perilous scenes.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, language and perilous scenes.
Children over the age of 13 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Buckley's Chance
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Struggling to cope with the death of his heroic father, Ridley (Milan Burch) is expelled from numerous schools and his grieving mother, Gloria (Victoria Hill), is left with no choice but to leave New York and seek out the only family they have left, her husband’s estranged father, Spencer (Bill Nighy), who lives on a sheep station in a remote region in outback Australia. Despite the best efforts of Jules (Kelton Pell) his father’s childhood friend, Ridley hates his new life. He hates his grandfather’s indifference; he hates the isolation; and he hates the hard work. Ridley’s only bright spot is the camera his father got for him shortly before he died, and he does his best to capture interesting and unique things on film. After saving a solitary dingo, whom Ridley later names Buckley, from a barbed wire fence, the pair become inseparable. When two local guys, who want part of Spencer’s land, show up late one night, Ridley begins to film their attempt to burn the sheep shed down. Before they can really get started, they are interrupted, and Ridley is forced to hide in the back of their truck. Ridley continues to film them at their hideout the following day until the guys catch him and he is locked up. Ridley manages to escape into the outback and must, with the help of Buckley, not only try to find his way home, but also fight to survive against the elements of a hostile land.


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.

Death of and separation from a parent; Family breakdown; The struggle for survival in harsh and unfamiliar environments.

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, including:

  • Spencer shoots with a gun at a dingo and tries to teach Ridley to do the same.
  • Ridley shoves past three men on the sidewalk.
  • A character is told that they need to have some sense knocked into them.
  • Spencer threatens a man, saying that he is standing in the way of a 12-gauge shotgun.
  • Two guys punch each other before attempting to set fire to Spencer’s sheep shed.
  • Two men shoot at Buckley, with Ridley close by.
  • Buckley kills a snake that is about to attack Ridley.
  • A pack of dingos are closing in on Ridley and are ready to attack when he begins to set the bush on fire.

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:

  • Some children in this age group may also be upset by the following perilous scenes.

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 children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Ridley’s mum is extremely distraught as they continue to search for, and fail to find, her son. She begins to lose faith, saying they will never find him.
  • Ridley is carried by a swift current down a river he intended to cross and, despite a desperate struggle, finds himself going over a waterfall. Ridley’s shoe is fished from the shallows by the two men chasing him, who clearly believe that he has drowned. He is shown later, laying in the shallows on the side of a muddy bank.
  • Spencer tells the story of why his son left and never returned. He explains how his wife died of cancer, how they allowed their only child to go interstate to train without disclosing anything about the illness, and how his boy never got to say goodbye. The scene could have an emotional toll on some children.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • After Ridley escapes from the bathroom he is chased across a mine site by two men. He manages to hide by clutching the side of a cliff while they search for him but he nearly falls from the cliff as he begins to lose his grip and the rocks begin to slide. One of the men nearly finds him but Ridley manages to hang on and claw his way back up the cliff when they leave.
  • Ridley is injured after going over a waterfall and washing up on the side of a river. He hobbles his way down an embankment while being pursued by a pack of menacing dingoes who clearly want to kill him. Buckley tries to help him but they are surrounded by snarling, aggressive animals. In a last-ditch effort to save themselves, Ridley uses his knife to shoot sparks, hoping to scare them away. Instead, he manages to set nearby bushes on fire before losing his footing and smashing his head on a rock. He is knocked unconscious while the bushes around him burn and the dingos lurk in the darkness.

Thirteen and overinfo

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 further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Two men act drunk when they arrive at Spencer’s property, determined to set it alight.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Pain in the ass.
  • Bloody.
  • Shit.

In a nutshell

Buckley’s Chance is a family style drama with a fairly predictable storyline about a boy and his dog, or in this case, a dingo. This film will likely be enjoyed by preteens and foreign audiences keen for a small glimpse of Australia.

The main messages from this movie are that you can’t have strength without struggle; and that each of us has a place and if you persevere eventually you will find your way home.

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

  • Importance of family
  • Power of community
  • Loyalty
  • Courage
  • Ingenuity
  • Persistence.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Taking the law into your own hands.
  • Trying to scare someone into submission.
  • Acting out in anger.
  • Refusing to communicate or forgive.