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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 12 (scary scenes, mild peril, sad themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dreambuilders
  • a review of Dreambuilders completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 January 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to some scary scenes and sad themes.
Children aged 8–12 Parental guidance recommended due to mild scary scenes and some sad themes.
Children over the age of 12 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: Dreambuilders
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild Themes
Length: 81 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Minna (voice of Robyn Dempsey) lives with her father (voice of Tom Hale) in a quaint house in the countryside. Minna is a bit of an introvert and enjoys being by herself with her pet hamster and playing chess with her dad. Minna’s life is shattered when her dad’s girlfriend (voice of Karen Ardiff) moves in with her daughter Jenny (voice of Emma Jenkins), a girl about the same age as Minna. Jenny is image obsessed and totally addicted to posting about her own life on Instagram and social media. The girls couldn’t be more different. Jenny is horrified to be moving to the countryside and having to share a room with the very fashion UN-conscious Minna and the hamster, who Jenny thinks is a disgusting rat. One night whilst she is asleep and dreaming, Minna accidently comes across a crack in a wall, when she peers through it a whole alternate world is revealed. This is an imaginary world where people’s dreams are ‘constructed’, like plays on large stages. Each person’s ‘dream-stage’ is run by a production team of small blue men and friendly little robots. Minna meets her very own ‘Dreambuilder’; his name is Gaff (voice of Luke Griffin) and he has been designing and producing Minna’s dreams since she was just a baby. Gaff is very fond of Minna, but when he realises that she has broken through the dream stage into the backstage world, he is horrified and worried about losing his job and being demoted. Minna is fascinated by this backstage dream world and realises that she can actually influence how people think in the real world by manipulating what happens in their dreams. Whilst this starts off as a bit of fun, when Minna decides to try and change her bothersome stepsister Jenny and take revenge upon her by manipulating Jenny’s dreams, things start to go horribly wrong and Minna must make amends.


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.

Family breakdown and parents separating; Dreams and the subconscious; Overcoming trauma; Psychological manipulation; Growing up; Technology and social media addiction.

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:

  • Minna loses her temper and violently smashes a chessboard on the table, causing it to break. Her father tries to hold her tight, but she kicks and fights against him and yells that she hates him.
  • Jenny uses psychological violence to bully Minna, for example, secretly putting photos of her on social media with negative and mean comments or trying to deliberately ‘steal’ Minna’s father’s affection away from Minna to make her feel jealous and insecure.
  • In self-defence, Minna causes a giant robotic spider to explode violently into many pieces.
  • Jenny shoves Minna roughly into a corner.
  • Jenny throws a book at Minna’s hamster.

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:

  • There are some mean characters in this film that very young children might find menacing or disturbing. For example, Minna’s stepsister calls her mean names (“rat girl”) and scowls at her and is manipulative with their parents. Another example is “The Inspector” who looks down on people and bosses them about in a threatening manner.
  • Minna enters a ‘dreambuilding’ world where everybody’s dreams are produced on stages which float in a large empty void. When the props used in people’s dreams are discarded, they are simply thrown into the void where they go into the ‘dream trash’ which is a dark, scary rubbish-tip full of broken dreams. Smaller children might find this alternate, surreal world a bit strange and disturbing, particularly the danger of falling into the void.
  • In the dream sequences, small blue men are the actors and wear costumes that look like people that the dreamers know in real life. Small children might be slightly alarmed to see a character removing their head to reveal the little blue man inside the costume.
  • Minna creates a nightmare in one of Jenny’s dreams. Jenny is dreaming that millions of spiders are crawling towards her in a dark spooky house. There is a giant robotic spider which Minna controls with a remote control. Minna rides the spider into the dream sequence and terrifies Jenny. The spider is very scary.
  • Jenny falls out of her dream, tumbling into the void and down into the ‘dream trash’. This means that she is unable to wake up and is effectively in a coma. There are some emotional scenes where Jenny’s mum is waiting by Jenny’s bed and Minna is terrified that she has lost Jenny forever.
  • Minna dreams that her mother has come back to her and she is no longer alone, but then she realises it is just a dream and is left feeling lonely and abandoned.
  • A large robotic spider with glowing eyes and sharp teeth chases Minna and Jenny through the ‘dream trash’, a dark and scary landscape of abandoned props from people’s dreams.
  • Jenny breaks down and cries when she finds herself stuck in one of her old nightmares – a scene of her parents fighting and her father blaming their problems on Jenny. One line is stuck, like a broken record and keeps repeating over and over again.

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:

  • Children in this age group are likely to be affected by the above-mentioned scenes and are also more aware and more sensitive to the central themes of parental separation and fear of abandonment. There are several emotional scenes where the two girls, Minna and Jenny, discuss how they feel about their parents abandoning them.

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:

  • Children in this age group who have experienced a family breakdown or parental separation (particularly if it is recent), may find some of the themes in this film sensitive or upsetting. However, there are positive messages about the importance of communication and forming new relationships.

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

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Smart phones
  • Instagram
  • Social Media.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild romantic activity in this movie, including:

  • Minna’s father and Jenny’s mother embrace and kiss.

Use of substances

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

  • Adults drinking wine with their meals.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Jenny calls Minna, “Rat girl”.
  • Get lost!

In a nutshell

Dreambuilders is an easy to watch animation that tackles the difficult theme of parents separating and blended families in a way that is accessible to children. Parents should be aware that there are some sad moments and a few scary bits that younger children will find disturbing. Best suited for children over 8 with parental guidance to 12.

The main message from this movie is that painful and traumatic events in life can be overcome with good communication and lots of support.

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

  • Learning to overcome your fears.
  • Accepting that others may have different ways of coping.
  • Understanding that our subconscious helps us to process and heal from the wounds we have suffered, but that we also might need the support of others and to talk about things to move on.

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

  • Some characters in this film are very addicted to technology. Minna hates it when her dad looks at his phone all the time, and we can see that Jenny is obsessed with social media. Parents could discuss how they deal with technology and addiction to social media in their own lives and talk to their children about what is ‘sensible’ use of phones and other technology.
  • Jenny said mean things about Minna on social media and posted photos of Minna without her consent. Parents could discuss the consequences and ethics of this kind of behaviour and the way it can make people feel.