Australian Council on Children and the Media

Descendants

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 10 (scary scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Descendants
  • a review of Descendants completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 April 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 8–10 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 10 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: Descendants
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Themes
Length 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the magical land of Auradon, everyone lives in peace and harmony under the reign of Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy) and Beast (Dan Payne). All of the villains, including Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth), the Evil Queen (Kathy Najimy), Jafar (Maz Jobrani) and Cruella de Vil (Wendy Raquel Robinson) have been exiled to the Island of Livevil. The Royal couples' son, Prince Ben (Mitchell Hope), is about to ascend the throne and he decrees that the descendants of the villains should be allowed to enter Auradon to attend college and be given a chance to make good with their lives. Consequently Mal (Dove Cameron), Evie (Sofia Carson), Jay (Booboo Stewart) and Carlos (Cameron Boyce), the children of the four most notorious villains, are chosen to come to Auradon, much to the displeasure of some.

Maleficent sees this as her opportunity to retrieve the wand from the Fairy Godmother, through her daughter Mal. The four teenagers arrive with this as their main intention, however, during their time in Auradon they start to question who they are and who they want to be. Do they have to follow in their parents' footsteps or are they their own people with the ability to make their own choices? Will they choose good or evil? The fact that Ben and Mal fall for each other may also help to sway the choice.

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.

Fantasy; Magic; Witchcraft; Heroes and Villains; Good v Evil.

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:

  • Jay and Carlos often play fight.
  • Carlos and Jay fight with a character in a video game.
  • Jay tries to grab the wand that's floating in space. A force sends him flying.
  • Rough play on the hockey field with boys running into each other, knocking them over.
  • A dragon breathes fire on Jay and chases after him.

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 villains are scary looking characters. Maleficent has 2 black horns, an evil laugh and eyes that glow green.
  • Mal's eyes also glow green on occasion.
  • Livevil is a slum of a place and the teens all dress accordingly.
  • The four young teens travel from Livevil through a magic arch which glows yellow over the water.

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:

  • The four teens enter a museum which has waxwork characters of the villains. As they watch, Maleficent comes alive and flies up into the sky. Green lightening cracks around her, then she returns to a statue.
  • Maleficent disintegrates into a green substance and reappears in Auradon. She freezes everyone in the castle. She then changes into a large fire-breathing dragon and causes havoc.

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.

  • Some children in this age group could be scared 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.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A romantic attachment between Ben and Mal see them several times go to kiss each other but don't. At the end they do kiss.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Mal bakes some cookies with a substance in them which casts a spell on the eater.
  • Evie sprays a substance on Charming Chad, which knocks him out.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Some name calling such as, “jerk”.

In a nutshell

Descendants is a Disney movie which includes many of its well-known fairy story characters, both good and bad. The movie is basically a teen college romance story but holds a lot of good messages. Older children and teens are likely to enjoy this movie.

The main messages from this movie are that redemption is possible; we are who we choose to be; people should be given a second chance; and good triumphs over evil.

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

  • Not judging others by the actions of their parents.
  • Giving people a new chance.
  • Listening to your heart.
  • Making our own choices and not having to follow in our parents' footsteps if we don't agree with them.
  • Stealing things doesn't make you happy.
  • Love is not weak or ridiculous – it's amazing.

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

  • Why did the teens think they had to prove they were evil, ruthless and malicious?
  • Why do villains wish to destroy everything that's good and beautiful?

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