Australian Council on Children and the Media

Help! I’m a Fish

movie image

Short takes

Parental guidance under 8 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Help! I’m a Fish
  • a review of Help! I’m a Fish completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 July 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the scariness in this movie children under eight would need some parental guidance.
Children over the age of 8 Should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

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: Help! I’m a Fish
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 80 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bud and Stella have to be baby-sat by their rather large Aunt, thwarting Bud’s plans to go fishing. Cousin Chuck also comes along and while Bud teases him about the computer program he is using, his Aunt falls asleep reading to Stella. Bud sees this as his chance to escape with Stella to go fishing and they take a reluctant Chuck along with them. Unfortunately the trio become stranded on a rock when the tide comes in and it seems as though they will be washed away when they discover a door which opens into the rock. Inside they find a nutty professor in his laboratory where he is creating a potion that will enable people to live underwater like fishes do.

Stella is thirsty and unknowingly drinks the potion. She turns into a starfish and is thrown into the ocean by Bud before he realises it is Stella. Bud then drinks the potion so that he can go into the ocean and rescue Stella. They enter an underwater realm that is ruled by a large shark. Meanwhile the Professor and Chuck head out in a boat with the antidote to try to find Bud and Stella. A storm comes up and they both get washed into the ocean along with the antidote. This is discovered by Joe, a fish that had previously survived by cleaning the shark’s teeth, but is now able to talk and become powerful. The shark also drinks some of the antidote and he is also able to talk but doesn’t have the intelligence of Joe. Joe turns into a despotic ruler who has plans to create a society of “exceptional, intelligent fish”.

Bud and Stella are joined by Chuck who has become a jellyfish. The trio are seen as a threat by Joe who imprisons them. They only have a limited time to drink the antidote before they will remain as fish forever. They are caught and escape several times and are left with only minutes to spare to find the antidote.

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, some of it slapstick, including the following:

  • Bud knocks over his Aunt on his skateboard
  • Bud and Chuck fight over the computer
  • Shark noisily crunches a crab
  • Sasha, a seahorse, is made to do hard labour for helping the children. She has to pull heavy blocks and is whipped by a guard.
  • Bud knocks out a crab with a large iron block
  • A large octopus nearly strangles Bud and Chuck
  • Bud is attacked by a large crab and is obviously injured.

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.

Children under five would find the above scenes scary and would be upset by Sasha being hit with a whip. Other scary scenes in this movie include:

  • The children are stranded on a rock and almost washed out to sea.
  • The children fall down a tunnel and are washed down by a wave of water.
  • The professor at first appears dark, evil and very scary until he comes into the light.
  • The children turn into fishes.
  • Chuck and the Professor appear to drown in the rough seas.
  • The shark has really large teeth.
  • The children are kept inside the shark’s mouth.
  • Joe becomes a large evil fish.
  • Joe sentences the shark and a crab to be executed.
  • The Octopus is very large and scary and has mean yellow eyes.
  • The crab becomes large and scary.
  • Joe drinks more and more of the antidote and progressively turns into a nasty, evil looking man before he drowns.
  • Bud appears to have died.

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 find the scenes described above scary or disturbing.

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.

Most children in this age group would understand this is only fantasy.

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.

Children over the age of thirteen are unlikely to have difficulties with the scary material in this film.

Sexual references

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Use of substances

There is no drug or alcohol use but there is the drinking of the potion that transforms people into fish and back again.

Coarse language

None

In a nutshell

The take home message is that power corrupts evil people; however, this message probably goes way over the head of young children.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • friendship
  • loyalty
  • collaborative thinking

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • taking control by force
  • stand-over and bully-boy tactics

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