Cruella

image for Cruella

Short takes

Not suitable under 11; parental guidance to 13 (violence, scary scenes, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cruella
  • a review of Cruella completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 May 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes, and themes.
Children aged 11–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes, and themes.
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.

Name of movie: Cruella
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence, sense of threat
Length: 134 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Struggling with what appears to be a borderline personality disorder, the young Estella (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) tries to keep her raging and mean alter ego, Cruella, under wraps. Loved unconditionally by her mother Catherine (Emily Beecham), she does her best to remain calm and kind but when school bullies repeatedly taunt and torment her, she loses control and is ultimately expelled from the school. Without any other option the pair set off for London where both dream of taking the fashion industry by storm. The quick stop they intended to make on their way turns tragic when Catherine is pushed off a cliff by three dogs. A devastated and heartbroken Estella makes her way to London alone and soon after joins Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry), a pair of petty thieves making a living from stolen goods. With Estella’s (Emma Stone) sewing skills and fashion sense she quickly takes their thieving operation to the next level by creating numerous costumes for the varied places they target, though all the while she is dreaming of working for The Baroness (Emma Thompson), owner and operator of the most famous fashion house in London. When finally given a chance to work for the icon, Estella discovers that someone else is to blame for her mother’s death and she vows revenge, no matter the toll or what it will take. She unleashes Cruella (Emma Stone) who will bring vengeance and possibly justice.

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.

Death of a parent; Abandonment; Revenge; Grief; Power trips and thinking yourself above the law.

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:

  • Kids throw Estella into a garbage bin.
  • Estella tackles a group of boys to the ground, hitting and punching them.
  • Estella is chased by snarling, vicious looking dogs that look like they will tear her to shreds. These same dogs later push her mother off a cliff.
  • A car smashes into a phone booth.
  • Large ‘rats’ attack a man’s face.
  • Horace falls off a balcony during a party and lands in a cake.
  • The Baroness alludes that she has killed many people.
  • The Baroness tries to kill Cruella by tying her up and setting her apartment on fire.
  • There is talk about how the Baroness ordered her infant daughter to be killed.
  • Cruella smashes a garbage truck into a police station to free Horace and Jasper.
  • The Baroness throws a chair which hits a maid. She then yells at her, telling the woman, “You are in the way”.
  • The Baroness shocks some of her staff with tasers.
  • A man is punched in the face.
  • A character is attacked by a dog.
  • The Baroness pushes Estella off the same cliff where her mother died.

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:

  • The scenes below are also likely to scare children in this age group.

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:

  • Estella is relentlessly bullied at school and the perpetrators never seem to get in trouble. Some children may be upset by the way that she is teased and treated.
  • Three vicious, snarling dogs try to attack the young Estella. She runs for her life and barely escapes but Catherine is not so lucky. Estella watches in horror as her mother is attacked on a cliff top and plunges to her death.
  • There is talk about a Dalmatian coat that Cruella wears to a fashion show. Many wonder whether or not she killed the dogs she kidnapped in order to make it. It turns out she did not, but the disturbing question lingers for some time before being answered at the end.
  • The Baroness ordered that her baby daughter be killed but the man entrusted with the task refused to do so, instead giving her to a housekeeper to take and raise as her own. As luck would have it, Cruella discovers that she was that baby ordered to die and has a hard time reconciling her emotions of abandonment, grief, anger and hatred. Some children may find this dark and emotional scene to be heavy and deeply disturbing.
  • Party goers watch in horror as the Baroness pushes Estella off a cliff and she plummets to her death. Later it is shown that Estella knew the Baroness would try to kill her and so she wore a parachute, which saved her life. For a short while viewers are left to believe the worst, and this may be very upsetting for some young 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:

  • Cruella is tied to a chair by the Baroness while her apartment is doused in kerosene and set alight. She passes out trying to escape from her bonds, and news of her death spreads across London. The apartment is seen going up in flames shortly after she loses consciousness. Later it is revealed that someone pulls her from the flames just in time.

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 further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Moments after a baby is born, she is lifted up and shown fully nude.

Use of substances

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

  • Estella is shown drinking from a decanter before she passes out in a window display.
  • Alcohol is consumed at various parties and events.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Some name calling such as “stupid”, “imbecile”, “cripes” and “psycho”.
  • Cruella changes the name of an old family estate into “Hell Hall”.

In a nutshell

Cruella is a dark drama that takes you back in time to show you how one of Disney’s most notorious villains came to be. Where once there was only fear and disgust, audiences will begin to have empathy and understanding for a character that was largely shaped by the actions of others. Due to its dark nature and focus on revenge this is not a family film and will be best enjoyed by adults and older children.

The main messages from this movie are that if you put others before yourself you won’t achieve anything; and that sometimes family is all that you have.

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

  • Persistence
  • Dedication
  • Determination
  • Creativity.

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

  • Seeking revenge instead of forgiveness.
  • Treating others poorly.
  • Taking what you want for yourself without any regard for the rights or feelings of others.
  • Taking justice into your own hands.
  • Violence as a means to solve conflict.