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Short takes

Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 14 (adult themes, drug taking)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Elvis
  • a review of Elvis completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 June 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to adult themes and drug taking.
Children aged 12–14 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes and drug taking.
Children over the age of 14 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: Elvis
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and coarse language
Length: 159 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Elvis is a biographical story of the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and, as a young boy (Chaydon Jay), he is seen trying to get his dad (Richard Roxburgh) out of prison. Elvis takes solace in the company of black gospel church services, at a time when blacks and whites were still segregated, and he is very much influenced by the music. As a young man, Elvis (Austin Butler) begins his singing career which features his famous hip wiggling and blatant sexual appeal. He is approached by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who realises the potential Elvis has as a money-making concern, to become his manager. Elvis exudes sexuality on stage and his adoring female fans fawn all over him. This attracts the condemnation of the moral majority who try to curtail Elvis and change him into a more wholesome act. Elvis is a rebel, however, and refuses to conform. He is drafted into the army and sent to Germany to serve, where he meets and falls in love with Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) and they later marry. Tom Parker commits Elvis to a five year contract to perform at Las Vegas, which Elvis finds increasingly difficult to fulfil. He turns to drugs to sustain his heady lifestyle and becomes bloated and temperamental. Priscilla leaves him during this difficult time and Elvis sadly dies at the age of 42, leaving a legacy that will continue forever.


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.

Biography; Financial abuse; Drug taking; Racial tensions.

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:

  • Elvis reacts badly to the restrictions that are placed on him.
  • Elvis argues with his mother.
  • Security guards manhandle Elvis off the stage.
  • A man threatens Elvis and a fight breaks out.
  • In a drunk/drugged state, Elvis reacts to a knock at the door by grabbing a gun. He shoots at the television set.
  • Priscilla and Elvis argue and she throws his pills across the room.
  • Elvis loses his temper with Tom Parker and kicks the furniture. He threatens to shoot him in the face.

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:

  • Nothing more particularly scary.

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 film portrays events happening in broader society at the time, including the civil rights movement. It refers to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy (in pictures) and Martin Luther King. Protest marches are seen on the streets.

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:

  • There are racial overtones in this movie that might disturb children in this age group. It was a time of segregation and blacks were not treated well. Elvis was referred to as a white man with ‘black hips’. He was also criticised for being with Negroes. Their music was referred to as ‘voodoo devil music’.
  • Elvis’s mother turns to drink as she becomes increasingly worried about her son. She collapses and dies. Elvis is seen weeping over his mother’s clothes and he continued to blame himself for her death.
  • Tom Parker is seen in hospital with tubes attached, having suffered a heart attack.
  • Elvis collapses before a show and Parker orders a doctor to give him something so that he can perform. The doctor injects a substance into his arm.

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.

  • Some children in this age group are likely to be concerned by the above-mentioned scenes. In addition, Elvis was charged with crimes of lust and perversion and a warrant is issued for his arrest.
  • Martin Luther King is quoted as saying that rock ‘n’ roll music contributed to juvenile delinquency.
  • There is talk of newspaper headlines, at the time, about Sharon Tate being killed in a ritualistic murder, and about the IRA blowing things up.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Pepsi
  • Coca-Cola.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Elvis’s fans are ecstatic during his shows and try to reach and touch him, seemingly on his private parts. They throw knickers onto the stage.
  • Elvis is referred to as a ‘taste of forbidden fruit’.
  • Elvis kisses several of his fans.
  • Priscilla cries and says to Elvis that he ‘doesn’t make love to her anymore’.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Elvis is seen making out with a girl but not much is shown. Sex is implied.
  • Elvis and Priscilla kiss on several occasions and are shown close in bed together but nothing graphic.
  • Elvis is shown in bed with another women in her underwear.

Use of substances

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

  • There is quite a lot of drinking and smoking throughout this movie.
  • It is said that Elvis smokes marijuana.
  • Elvis starts taking pills and mixing them with alcohol to which he becomes addicted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Goddamn
  • Oh my God
  • Bullshit
  • Arsehole
  • Oh Lord
  • Hell
  • Shit
  • Horseshit.

In a nutshell

Elvis is a biopic musical about the famous King of Rock and Roll, which is set in a period of civil unrest and segregation of blacks and whites. The telling of the story moves at a fast pace and glosses over a lot of the worst of Elvis’s life but it still tells a sad tale of a young man manipulated and abused by a predatory manager. The film will appeal to a wide audience, however, due to the adult themes in the movie and the presence of drug taking, it is not suitable for children under 12 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 12 – 14.

The main messages from this movie are that popular figures have great influence on many people and this can be used for good or bad; and the importance of Elvis’s family to him.

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

  • Elvis cared deeply for those he loved, including his parents and his family.
  • Elvis wasn’t concerned with what colour anyone was and he greatly admired black gospel music.
  • Drugs and gambling can ruin your life.

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

  • The difference in attitudes from the 1950’s/60’s to today. Moral restraint was very strong back in those days and rock ‘n’ roll music was seen as a bad influence. What would young people today think of that?
  • Why were black people segregated from mixing with white people? Have people’s attitudes to racism changed a lot since then?