Cup, The

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Not recommended under 10, PG to 13 (lacks interest for younger children; Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cup, The
  • a review of Cup, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 October 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to lack of interest and disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Cup, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The title of this film refers to the Melbourne Cup and the film tells the story of the young Australian jockey Damien Oliver. The film opens at a presentation dinner where we find Damien Oliver (Stephen Curry) being given the Jockey of the Year award and informing the surprised audience that he would now be riding for the Irish trainer Dermot Weld (Brendan Gleeson). From this point on the film is series of interwoven stories that portray the events and people surrounding Damien Oliver’s turbulent life in the weeks leading up to the 2002 Melbourne Cup.

Initially the film focuses on Damien’s interactions and relationships with his brother Jason Oliver (Daniel MacPherson), wife Trish (Jodi Gordon), manager Neil Pinner (Martin Sacks), friend and mentor Lee Freedman (Shaun Micallef) and the horse Media Puzzle’s handler Dave Phillips (Tom Burlinson). As the film proceeds we see Damien’s progress towards the Melbourne Cup and the family disaster that threatens his career.


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.

The Melbourne cup; horse racing/riding; death of family members

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.

The Cup contains no person-to-person violence of concern, but does contain scenes of horse racing injury and death which may be distressing to children and are described below under “Material that may scare or disturb children”

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.

There are a number of scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Black and white newsreel footage shows the death of Damien’s father, we see images of a horse tumbling over its jockey and a funeral service with men carrying a coffin.
  • A couple of images of a horse rearing up in a threatening manner.
  • Damien shows a scar on his shoulder and describes how he received the injury along with several other injuries he received as a result of falls from horses including broken collar bone, wrist and ankle.
  • Several scenes depict newsreel images of the 2002 Bali bombings including actual footage of the smoking building in ruins and survivors walking around including a image of a man with cuts over his face; the images are brief.
  • Images of a burns victim in hospital with his arms and torso completely wrapped in bandages, his face is covered in healing burns scars and has an oxygen tube inserted in a nostril.
  • Jason Oliver tumbles headfirst over a horse which then somersaults through the air to land on top of him; we do not see images of the horse landing on top of Jason, but the inference is clear. Jason is carried on a stretcher with his neck in a brace and we then see him attached to a respirator. Later we see distraught family members standing at his bedside as the life support machine is turned off. 
  • In a flashback scene we see Damien and Jason’s father lying in a hospital bed attached to a respirator with Damien’s mother crying at his bedside.  
  • In several scenes we see people emotionally distraught and crying over the news that Jason would not recover from his injuries.  

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.

The above scenes could also scare or disturb children under the age of eight

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 may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

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.

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains infrequent low-level sexual innuendo. Examples include:

  • In reference to attracting the affections of his wife, Damien refers to himself as “batting above my average”.
  • When a man leaves his wife to travel to Australia for work his wife tells him in a joking manner to “watch out for those Australian women”.
  • In reference to several woman wearing bikini tops and shorts while riding horses along a beach a man says, “I think he likes the bikinis” (“he” is one of the horses being ridden).

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains some partial nudity and infrequent low-level sexual activity:

  • Jockeys in a change room with bare chests.
  • Damien’s wife sits up in bed wearing a nightdress with a plunging neckline. Damien, with a bare chest, sits on the bed, then dives under the bed covers and for a brief moment the pair move about under the covers. 
  • Women in low-cut bikini tops and evening dresses and brief shorts.

Use of substances

There is some occasional alcohol use in this movie. Examples include:

  • Social drinking of champagne, wine and beer
  • We see bottle of spirits sitting on a table in a man’s office.

Coarse language

There is some infrequent low-level coarse language and name calling in this movie. Examples include:

  • Dirty rotten traitors, bullshit, smells like crap, damn well, bloody, Oh my god, bugger all, god damn it, fan-bloody-tastic, crafty dog, arses

In a nutshell

The Cup is an emotionally charged drama targeting an adult audience, particularly those with a love for horse racing and interest in the Melbourne Cup. It lacks interest for children and contains distressing scenes of injury and death.

The main message from this movie is that being a champion isn’t just about winning, but about persevering regardless of adversity.

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

Friendship and perseverance through adversity: With the help of family and friends and a strong will and determination Damien was able to persevere through great emotional adversity.  

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the life of a jockey and the consequences of participating in the dangerous and demanding sport of horse racing.