Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hancock

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Not suitable under 13, Parental guidance to 15 (Themes, violence, disturbing scenes, alcohol abuse, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hancock
  • a review of Hancock completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 July 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to adult themes, violence, disturbing scenes, alcohol abuse and coarse language
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, violence, disturbing scenes, alcohol abuse and coarse language

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: Hancock
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence and coarse language
Length 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Hancock (Will Smith) is a superhero, who is immortal, indestructible and can fly, but has no idea of who he really is, or where his powers came from. All he remembers is that he woke up in hospital 80 years ago with amnesia and superhero powers. Hancock is also his own worst enemy. He is foul mouthed, drinks himself into oblivion and, through his recklessness, causes more damage than good. Then one day, Hancock saves the life of Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a public relations executive who, in return for the good deed, decides to become Hancock’s personal public relations officer and transform his “bad-boy” image.
Hancock’s new image is a great success, and Hancock spends time with Ray, Ray’s wife Mary (Charlize Theron) and their son Aaron (Jae Head). There appears to be a mysterious familiarity or attraction between Mary and Hancock and the situation is brought to a head one evening when Hancock tries to kiss Mary. She responds by throwing Hancock through the side of the house and into the street, thus revealing her own superhero powers.

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.

Superheroes; Immortality

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.

Hancock contains action violence throughout together with some threats and intimidation.  Examples include:

  • The opening scenes included images of a speeding vehicle swerving and dodging in and out of traffic and crashing into cars. Men in the vehicle fire machine guns at police cars causing destruction and mayhem. Hancock flies after them and lands heavily in the back seat with the men all pointing their guns at him. Hancock asks the gunmen to surrender and they shoot him several times in the face. Although his sunglasses are damaged, Hancock is uninjured. In response, Hancock picks up the vehicle and flies up into the sky crashing it into several buildings before impaling it on a spiked steeple.     
  • Hancock crashes into a giant billboard causing the billboard and part of a building to come crashing down into the street below, which in turn causes the destruction and explosion of a number of police cars. 
  • A man is trapped in his car on a level crossing. Hancock arrives just before a train collides with the car and flips the car up into the air with the car coming to rest upside down on top of another car. The freight train then hits Hancock, causing the destruction of the freight train’s engine and the derailment of its carriages.
  • After a 12 year-old boy calls Hancock an arsehole several time, Hancock throws him high into the sky and then catches the boy when he finally falls to the ground. The boy is crying and shaking with terror.
  • Hancock grabs a beached whale by the tail and hurls it back into the ocean where it crashes into a yacht.
  • While in jail, Hancock is surrounded in a threatening manner by dozens of prisoners. When the prisoners refuse to move aside, we hear Hancock threaten two of the prisoners with, “Your head is going up his arse,” we then see blurred movement and hear a squelching sound. The next image is a side view of one prisoner standing in a shaky manner with a second prisoner standing bent over behind the first prisoner with his shoulders and torso protruding from the bottom of the first prisoner.
  • A gang of bank robbers (some wearing black masks over the faces) hold a group of civilians as hostages. The bank robbers fire machine guns at the police, riddling police cars with bullet holes and causing police cars to explode in flames. A wounded policewoman is lying on the ground behind a damaged police car. A group of very scared looking hostages sit on the floor of the bank praying. They all have explosives strapped to their bodies, including a young boy. The leader of the bank robbers holding a detonation device in his hand and hear him threaten to blow up all of the hostages if his demands are not met. Hancock arrives and walks straight into a wall of bullets fired by the bank robbers. He rescues the wounded policewoman by picking up the women together with a police car, which he uses to shield the women.
  • The bank robber tells Hancock that if he lets go of the detonation device it will automatically set off the bombs. We see Hancock pick up a metal disk and use his fingers to shave a razor sharp edge on the disk. When we next see Hancock he is walking away from the bank holding the bank robber’s severed hand, which is still clutching the detonation device.
  • When Hancock tries to kiss Mary she throws him through the side of the house causing Hancock to crash into parked cars in the street. Hancock is uninjured.
  • To test whether Mary has superhero powers, Hancock stabs her with a meat fork and bashes her over the head with a wooden rolling pin causing the rolling pin to shatter.
  • In a fight between Hancock and Mary the pair crash into the road, cars and buildings, causing destruction. Mary picks up a truck and smashes it down onto Hancock. She tells Hancock that she hates him.
  • During a liquor store hold up, a man holds a gun to a shop attendant’s head. Hancock grabs the gunman and hurls him through the air to smash into glass doors.
  • Hancock is shot twice in the chest at close range with bloodied bullet wounds appearing in his chest. Soon after we see Hancock in hospital having an IV needle inserted into his arm.
  • While in hospital Hancock is attacked by escaped convicts and Mary is shot in the chest and stomach with a shotgun. We see bullet wounds and lots of blood with Mary groaning and writhing in pain. Hancock throws a wheelchair at one attacker, and throws others through a wall, a window and at the ceiling. Hancock is stabbed in the back of the head with a knife, hit across the head with a gas cylinder, choked, shot in the chest and then left to die on the ground with blood pooling beneath his body. 

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:

  • a scene showing Hancock in clothing that is burnt from most of his body with smoke coming from the burnt clothing.
  • scary images of prisoners, one wearing a neck brace and another wearing a prosthetic hook in place of his severed hand.
  • Mary lies dying on an operating table in a hospital with doctors trying to restart her heart with a defibrillator, the doctors fail and Mary’s heart stops. We later see images of Mary lying apparently dead on the table with a plastic tube in her mouth.
  • Aaron sits on a hospital floor in a terrified and traumatised state watching Hancock lying on the floor dying in a pool of his own blood.
  • In one scene, while Hancock and Mary fight each other using their superhero powers, dark swirling storm clouds and a lightning charged electrical storm develop. Tornadoes come out of the storm, picking up cars, and the two superheroes fly into the eye of the storm.   

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.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

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 are also likely to be disturbed by some of 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.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

Hancock contains infrequent low-level sexual references. For example:

  • A comment was made about Aaron turning the other cheek when confronted by a bully. Hancock made reference to Aaron’s buttock cheek, telling Aaron “never turn that one.” Hancock then told Aaron to “Never let them punk you.” 
  • When Hancock is asked for his opinion about the look of a superhero suit he replies that it would make him look like a “homo in red.” When asked about another suit Hancock responds that it would make him look like a “Norwegian homo.”  
  • When attempting to lift an injured policewoman, Hancock asks the woman if he has permission to touch her body, telling her that it’s not sexual.
  • A man makes reference to Hancock in his superhero suit resembling a “Tight arse Wolverine”.     
  • A woman makes a reference to Hancock being “hot.”

Nudity and sexual activity

Hancock contains some partial nudity and sexual activity. Examples include:

  • As a woman walks past Hancock he slaps her on her bottom.
  • The film contains several images of women wearing low cut tops that expose cleavage.
  • In several scenes, once her superhero status is revealed, Mary wears revealing low cut tops.      
  • Ray and Mary lie fully clothed on a bed, kissing each other on the lips. 
  • Hancock tries to kiss Mary on the lips, but is thrown through the wall of the house by Mary before he makes contact with her.

Use of substances

Hancock depicts frequent alcohol use and abuse. Examples include:

  • Hancock lies on a street bench in a drunken stupor surrounded by empty bottles. He picks up a partially empty bottle of alcohol from the ground and flies up into the sky, drinking from the bottle as he swerves drunkenly through the air, dodging some buildings and crashing into others.
  • A woman comments that Hancock smells like a bar.
  • Reference is made to being able to smell alcohol on Hancock’s breath.
  • We see Hancock buying alcohol and drinking straight from a bottle.
  • Hancock walks around holding a bottle of whisky, and later slurs his speech as if drunk.
  • Several times Hancock wakes up in a hung-over state.
  • Hancock, Mary and Ray drink wine at a restaurant.

Coarse language

Hancock contains frequent medium level coarse language and putdowns. Examples include:

  • A four-year old boy and a twelve-year-old boy call Hancock an “arsehole.” 
  • “I don’t give a shit.” “Swear to Christ.” “Your head up my arse.” “Break my foot off in your arse”, “Bitch.” “They fucked you up.” “Dust crack.” “Piss pump.” “What the hell are you pricks looking at?” “Punk arse kid.” “Your head is going up his arse.” “Shit hole.” “What the hell.” “Bastard.” Holy shit.” “You gotta be shitting me.”       

In a nutshell

Hancock rated (M) is a superhero movie with a difference which may entertain older adolescents and adults with its special effects and an attention-grabbing plot twist. The main messages from this movie are that abilities, both of superheroes and ordinary people, should be used to the benefit of society.

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

  • Selflessness and empathy:
  • Accepting responsibility for the consequences of your actions
  • Doing your civic duty

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as Hancock’s early behaviour and his transformation during the film.

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