Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Not suitable under 8s, PG to 13 (Scary scenes. Viol. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • a review of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 April 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the scary imagery (Vogons, Humma Kavula) and intermittent violence, the film is not suitable for children under the age of eight years. Most children under eight would not enjoy the humour, as it is not directed at their age level, and would find the filmu2019s content meaningless and boring.
Children aged 8-13 Most children between the ages of eight and thirteen years should be able to cope with the scary visual images; however parental guidance is recommended for children in this age bracket.. As for younger children, many children in the 8-13 age bracket will find the filmu2019s content meaningless and boring.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be able 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: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up one morning to find his house is about to be demolished to allow for an interstate bypass. His best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) arrives, announcing that he is an alien and that the earth will be destroyed in twelve minutes to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Luckily for Arthur, Ford is able to hitchhike rides on alien spacecraft, and rescues Arthur by hitchhiking a ride aboard a Vogon spacecraft just before the Earth is destroyed. Unfortunately the pair is discovered by the Vogons and ejected into space. The pair’s adventures continue as they are immediately rescued by the Galactic Starship Heart of Gold, which is powered by improbability hyperdrive and crewed by Galaxy President Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), an Earth girl Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) and a paranoid depressed robot named Marvin.

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.

Violence is scattered throughout the film and is presented in a comical if not totally bizarre context, including:

  • the starship Heart of Gold is pursued by two missiles, but due to the ship’s improbability hyperdrive the missiles are changed into pots of petunias before they make impact
  • Humma Kavula blackmails Beeblebrox into acquiring a super gun from the planet Magrathea. Rather than being a weapon of destruction, the gun is a “point of view gun”—if you point the gun at someone and pull the trigger they immediately see things from your point of view.
  • On several occasions Beeblebrox, Arthur and company are shot at by dozens of Vogons wielding laser guns, however no one is ever injured.
  • The Vogons manage to shoot everything except the people they are shooting at.
  • Humma Kavula removes Beeblebrox’s second head with a circular saw. There is a shadowed silhouette and the sound of the saw, but no blood and gore. The next image is of the head still talking on a toy doll’s body, the image representing a nodding head doll.
  • Beeblebrox slaps Arthur in the face leaving a small amount of blood at the side of Arthur’s mouth
  • Trillian slaps Beeblebrox in 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.

Children under the age of five, could be scared by the visual images in this movie, including:

  • the Vogons (best described as large Ogres) look quite scary. The Vogon creatures are the creation of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, and are realistic in appearance and movement, and sometimes quite threatening.
  • the character Humma Kavula has a very intimidating and evil manner. At one point he is shown as having a human torso with a mechanical spider-like undercarriage. Later he takes off his glasses to reveal black eyeless sockets, while his blinking eyes remain attached to the glasses. Kavula intimidates and threatens Beeblebrox and removes one of Beeblebrox’s heads with a circular saw to ensure Beeblebrox’s compliance.
  • dozens of Vogons firing laser guns at Arthur, Beeblebrox and company, including loud explosions.
  • Arthur squashes two white mice with a pot. When Arthur lifts the pot, the two mice have changed into two squashed mice sized children (Pan Dimensional Beings). There is no blood and gore and the squashed children have the appearance of pressed flowers; however very young children could still find this scene distressing.

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 under the age of eight, particularly young children in this age bracket, may also be scared or disturbed by the material described above.

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 over the age of eight years should be able to interpret the scariness of the Vogons and Humma Kavula (as described above) as comical. The Vogons are for the most part presented as stupid and ineffective within a comical context, so for older children the comedy would assist in diluting their scary appearance. However, the images may still present a concern for some children in this age bracket.

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 13 are unlikely to be scared or disturbed by any content in this film.

Sexual references

The film contains one statement which in context is clearly a sexual reference. Trillian has left Arthur at a party to go off with Beeblebrox. Arthur later has a heated discussion with her in which he states “Is there anything else he’s got two of!?”

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy contains three scenes involving the consumption of alcohol:

  • At the start of the movie, Ford Prefect arrives at Arthur’s house with a shopping trolley full of beer cans. His aim is to hand out beer to workers to delay Arthur’s house from being demolished.
  • Ford Prefect takes Arthur to a local pub and orders six pints of beer. He tells Arthur that he has to drink three pints in ten minutes, as the world is about to end.
  • people at a fancy dress party are holding and drinking glasses of alcohol. No one at the party appeared intoxicated, but Arthur says to Trillian “Most of the people who come to these parties are drunken idiots”.

In addition, Beeblebrox makes Ford the best drink in existence, a Pan Galactic Garble Blaster “the effect of which is like having your brain smashed up by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick”

Coarse language

There is very mild coarse language, including occasional use of “what the hell” and “bloody”.

In a nutshell

Most of the messages in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are designed to have fun at the expense of human, and particularly English, values, beliefs, and intelligence. The worth of the universe, human intelligence, politics, political procedure, government red tape, science and technology are all subjects of satire in the movie.

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