Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hey hey, it's Esther Blueburger

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15, adult themes, sexual references and substance use.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hey hey, it's Esther Blueburger
  • a review of Hey hey, it's Esther Blueburger completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 March 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to adult themes, sexual references and drinking and smoking by adolescents.
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, sexual references and drinking and smoking by adolescents.
Children aged 15 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: Hey hey, it's Esther Blueburger
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate coarse language, Sexual references
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Esther Blueburger (Danielle Catanzariti) is a non-conformist thirteen year old, in a very conservative private girl’s school. She spends most of her free time alone, watching the other girls. On her way home from school one day, she stops to watch a rock band practising in a club and she befriends the drummer, a girl called Sunni (Keisha Castle-Hughes) Sunni is cool and hip but she takes a liking to Esther as she sees something different about her. Together they hatch a plot to get Esther to attend Sunni’s public school without telling Esther’s parents.

Esther ‘joins’ Sunni’s group, the ‘Lion-pits’ but finds she has to go to extreme lengths to prove that she fits in. Esther takes warmly to Sunni’s Mum, Mary (Toni Collette), who is more of a friend to Sunni than a mother, and works at night as a pole dancer. Esther sees the relationship as quite different to her own relationship with her mother Grace (Essie Davis) who is a career woman with little time for Esther.

As a Jewish girl, Esther has a combined bar/bat-mitzvah with her twin brother Jacob (Christian Byers). None of her private school friends attend, but much to Grace’s displeasure, Sunni turns up uninvited. At the ceremony, Esther’s Dad gives a speech in which he says he hopes that the twins will always land on the right side. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for Esther, as she manages to complicate her life considerably. However she learns many important life lessons along the road to finding her identity and where she fits in.

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.

Coming of age; finding one’s identity

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:

  • Teasing of girls at school
  • Girls throw things at Esther
  • Jacob pours a bucket of water over Esther
  • Esther squirts a girl with juice
  • Esther attacks a girl and steals her raincoat
  • Esther has an argument with her mother who slaps her across 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 five, including the following:

  • Esther takes a duckling home from school and it follows her everywhere. Later she’s horrified to find that her duckling has been killed and de-feathered for her biology lesson. This is quite distressing.
  • Esther buries the duckling
  • Mary is killed in a motorbike accident – not actually shown – but Sunni is naturally very upset.
  • Jacob jokes about killing his mother and father with an axe.

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 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 may also 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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Esther is shown with blood running down her leg and goes to buy some tampons from a machine.
  • Mary tells Esther that she ran away from home because she was pregnant with Sunni.
  • Esther and her ‘lion pit’ friends practise kissing with boys. A boy asks if he can touch her boobs – she says no.
  • Esther asks her mother at what age did she lose her virginity.
  • Esther and her friends talk about when they’re going to lose their virginity – says she doesn’t want to be a fourteen-year-old virgin.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Esther and her friends decide to experiment with sex with a boy – nothing actually shown but Esther finishes ‘her turn’ and asks ‘who’s next?’
  • Mary is shown pole dancing in bra and knickers.

Use of substances

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

  • Drinking at home
  • Esther and Sunni drink champagne
  • Sunni tells a lady that her parents deal drugs
  • Esther and her friends drink out of a bottle.
  • Sunni smokes

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Fuck
  • Christ
  • Jesus
  • Slut
  • God

In a nutshell

Hey Hey it’s Esther Blueburger is a coming of age comedy aimed at adolescents. It was filmed in South Australia. The film is a bit drawn out and some of the more unpleasant parts could have been omitted without losing anything from the movie.

The main message from this movie is that you don’t need to conform to gain acceptance.

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

  • It’s not cool to hurt someone else

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

  • Doing things that are objectionable to you to impress others will have negative consequences for all concerned.
  • Bullying and harassment is never acceptable.
  • It’s better to be honest and talk to your parents rather than doing things behind their back and lying to them.
  • The wisdom of experimenting with sex.

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