Emu Runner

image for Emu Runner

Short takes

Not suitable under 8, parental guidance to 10 (language, substance use, death of a parent)

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Emu Runner
  • a review of Emu Runner completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 November 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to language, substance use and death of a parent.
Children aged 8–10 Parental guidance due to death of a parent, threat of separation and substance use.
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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Emu Runner
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Emu Runner follows the story of an Aboriginal family in outback Australia as they struggle with the untimely death of their mother. While grieving husband and father Jay Jay (Wayne Blair), learns to be a single parent to three kids, 8-year-old Gem (Rhae-Kye Waites) starts regularly disappearing into the bush, having forged a bond with a wild emu. An important and mythical bird from her dreamtime ancestry (according to her mother), Gem believes she can speak to it, as her mother could before her. Following the arrival of Heidi (Georgia Blizzard) – an inexperienced and naïve social worker from Sydney – the family struggles to keep things together. When Gem’s brother Ecka (Rodney McHughes) gets involved in drugs, and Gem starts skipping school to steal food to feed her new friend, tensions rise between the family and the authorities. As Gem is about to be taken away from her family, Heidi finally learns the reason behind her behaviour, and realises that Gem and her family are better off together, to heal and grow.


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; Substance use; Family separation; Stealing.

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:

  • A scuffle occurs between Ecka and a man – They shove each other but neither is hurt.
  • Ecka is seen in hospital with stitches following a fight with the same man.
  • Jay Jay is seen in a brief scuffle with the man who hit Ecka.

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:

  • Gem’s mother collapses and the children try to wake her – She dies and the family is very distressed.

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 children fish by putting live worms onto hooks.
  • The threat of the separation of Gem from her family may be disturbing for this age group.

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:

  • Gem and Heidi are in a car accident when they swerve to miss an emu on the road – No-one is hurt.

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:

  • Friendly Grocer
  • Toyota
  • Mazda
  • Iveco
  • Volkswagen
  • Schweppes Lemonade

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Jokes are made about Ecka having multiple girlfriends

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Ecka drinks multiple beers on numerous occasions – It is suggested that he is developing a drinking problem.
  • A girl asks Ecka to buy her drugs, which he gets Gem to deliver for him – She is unaware she is carrying drugs.
  • Two 8-year-old girls accidentally drink alcoholic punch which makes them vomit.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Cock
  • Shit
  • Hell

In a nutshell

Emu Runner is the debut film of writer/director Imogen Thomas, that endeavours to tell an important story of grief and Aboriginal community. This movie will likely be most enjoyed by an adult audience and families with older children.

The main messages from this movie are supporting each other when times are hard and putting your best effort in gets results.

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

  • Family and community support;
  • Friendship;
  • Not judging others without understanding their context.

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

  • Driving while looking at your phone;
  • Stealing;
  • Substance use;
  • Running onto roads without looking.