Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hating Alison Ashley

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8s, PG to 13 (Themes; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hating Alison Ashley
  • a review of Hating Alison Ashley completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 November 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to themes and violence
Children 8 -13 Parental guidance due to themes
Children 14 and over 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: Hating Alison Ashley
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, Low level coarse language
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film is the narrated story of Erica Yurkin (Saskia Burmeister), an unhappy, high school, hypochondriac who is struggling to develop her dream of becoming a famous actress, which she believes will open the door to a perfect world where poverty and crime do not exist, where everything is beautiful and always as it should be. This dream is the exact opposite of her current home life, where her absentee father wants nothing to do with the family, her mother has fallen for a toothless truck driver, her brother roams the neighbourhood in his underpants making crop circles in their front yard, and her younger sister has spent the last seven years thinking that she is a horse.

It is Erica’s dream of creating a better life for herself that helps her get through her days at Barringa High, a rough school filled with fighting and graffiti and out of control students, including Barry (Alexander Cappelli). The teachers at the school have repeatedly been institutionalised or run off to join the Hari Krishnas. Erica couldn’t be happier when Miss Belmont (Jean Kittson) arrives to whip the students into shape, as she is finally getting the attention she feels she deserves. Then Alison Ashley (Delta Goodrem) arrives. Alison is beautiful, wealthy, smart and appears to have the perfect life. Slowly Erica turns from wanting to be a friend to being bitterly jealous of everything that Alison has. The girls have a rough relationship until Erica begins to learn that she has more than she thought she did and that the “perfect life” is not always as perfect as it may appear.

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.

Dysfunctional families; school bullying; adolescence; jealousy

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.

The film contains a fair amount of violence:

  • The first scenes at Barringa High show students fighting, destroying property, flipping people off their bikes, etc.
  • There is lots of shoving and pushing throughout the film and one teacher is repeatedly trampled.
  • Barry, a high school pyromaniac, sets fire to some graffiti. When the wall erupts in flames Erica’s face is badly singed.
  • Students and teachers are tied to poles, and one is blindfolded.
  • Miss Belmont repeatedly hits students who give her any kind of trouble.
  • Erica slaps Barry hard across the face.
  • Barry comes into the girls’ changing area and they rush him. He tells a teacher that they were very violent and could have taken his eye out with a tampon.

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.

Apart from the above-mentioned scenes, there is one other scene that may potentially frighten younger children. Erica’s younger sister is nibbling grass along the street as she crawls home pretending to be a horse. Erica grows impatient and leaves her to come home on her own. Barry watches Erica leave and then approaches the little girl in a threatening manner. The child later arrives back at home shaken and crying, saying that Barry has ripped off her tail.

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 may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scene

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.

Younger children in this group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scene

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 of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains a number of sexual references.

  • A car parked at school has a big sign on it: “Lick me bimbo mobile.”
  • In the staffroom Miss Belmont sticks one leg up in the air and is adjusting her fishnet stockings. She puts her leg down and straightens her skirt when another teacher, Mr. Kennard (Craig McLachlan) appears with innumerable offers to be of general assistance to her.
  • On a school camp, the students talk about how Miss Belmont and Mr. Kennard had “gotten together”. Mr. Kennard was seen entering her cabin at night and sneaking out in the morning.
  • After Erica dumps a bowl of salad on Barry he says to her: “You so want me.”
  • Barry kisses Erica and later on says “Next time I’m putting my tongue in.”
  • In the background music of one scene, the words “think you’re sexy” are repeatedly played.

Nudity and sexual activity

While the film doesn’t contain any sexual activity there is some partial nudity:

  • On the way to camp two naked butts are seen out of the rear windows.
  • Erica’s older sister Valjoy is repeatedly seen wearing tight and revealing tops.
  • Barry takes Mr. Kennard’s clothes while he is having a shower and Mr. Kennard has to run around clutching a towel trying to get them back.
  • Barry organises a small fire in the girls’ shower area and has the boys set up chairs and video equipment to capture the moments when the girls run out wearing only undergarments.

Use of substances

There is some substance use, including:

  • Miss Belmont often confiscates cigarettes from students, particularly Barry.
  • Erica’s brother is growing a marijuana plant in their garden.

Coarse language

The film contains a small amount of course language and a lot of name calling.

  • Two music tracks are played which contain some coarse language: “God damn right it’s a beautiful day.” “I see you baby shaking that ass”
  • Erica says of her older sister “She has a black belt in being a bitch.”

In a nutshell

Based on Robin Klein’s hilarious book of the same name, Hating Alison Ashley, the movie, falls somewhat short, while still being mildly amusing.

The movie’s main message is that those who appear to have it all may not have the most important things and that a simple act of kindness can open the doors of understanding and can even turn an enemy into a friend.

Some issues and values that parents may wish to discuss with their children are: friendship, jealousy, the role of family, truthfulness and the importance of believing in yourself.

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