Imaginary, The

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 9 (scary scenes, themes, violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Imaginary, The
  • a review of Imaginary, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 July 2024.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to scary scenes, themes and violence.
Children aged 8–9 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, themes and violence.
Children aged 10 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Imaginary, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence, themes, fantasy themes and scary scenes
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Amanda (voice of Evie Kiszel) lives with her Mum Lizzie (Hayley Atwell) following the recent death of her father. Amanda has a vivid imagination in which her imaginary friend Rudger (Louie Rudge-Buchanan) lives. They go on many adventures together across oceans, through the sky and to other lands. No-one else can see Rudger, however, Amanda and Rudger are threatened by a villainous Mr Bunting (Jeremy Swift) and a creepy girl who accompanies him. Mr Bunting can smell Rudger and wants to devour him.

Rudger becomes separated from Amanda after an unfortunate event and he is at risk of disappearing, which is what happens to all imaginary friends when their creator no longer needs them. Rudger is saved from this by a cat called Zinzan (Karl Penn) who takes him to a library where all the ‘imaginaries’ who are no longer needed live. They work and play there until some of them are lucky enough to be wanted by a human. Rudger, however, is determined not to give up on Amanda.


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.

Fantasy; Loss of a parent; Imaginary friends.

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:

  • Characters fall from a plane into the ocean but are saved by birds.
  • Amanda throws a toy inflatable shark at Rudger when she is upset by a memory about her father.
  • Amanda hits Bunting with her bag.
  • A main character is hit by a car and appears to be dead.
  • Emily, an imaginary character, drives a bus into Bunting and knocks him down.
  • Emily attacks the creepy girl and they fight.
  • Bunting pretends to shoot a gun at Emily, who is injured. She disintegrates.
  • Rudger, as a girl, smashes into a car’s windscreen.
  • A fight occurs in the hospital room when Bunting and the creepy girl enter Amanda’s room. Bunting tries to eat Rudger again and nearly succeeds. The creepy girl envelops Amanda in a black shroud as she tries to regain consciousness. A large snake appears and wraps itself around Amanda.

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:

  • Characters fly through a red sky being chased by crows.
  • A huge snowman lifts Rudger up in his hands.
  • Zinzan leads Rudger down a dark alleyway.
  • The imaginaries’ world is quite strange – a fire glows and a character is seen inside the fire.
  • Other characters are scary as well, such as a panda who appears in a cape and has a scary face and eyes. Cruncher of Bones is a skeleton.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Mr Bunting is a scary character with a moustache and a large nose which he uses to sniff out imaginary people. He also has a huge mouth with very large teeth. He has a manic laugh.
  • The scary girl has a white face and is shrouded in black. She can transform into swirls of black and into a crow. She has black dots for eyes which glow on occasion.
  • Amanda and Rudger escape from Bunting and run away. Amanda is hit by a car and she looks dead. Her mother is crying and Amanda is taken off in an ambulance.
  • Rudger seems to be disappearing – golden droplets leak from his body. Zinzan tells him he has little time left.
  • The fire in the imaginaries’ world gets angry when Bunting is mentioned – all of the imaginaries are scared of Bunting.
  • The creepy girl captures Rudger and takes him through the roof of the house.
  • A building on fire suddenly appears in front of Rudger.
  • Rudger changes into a girl and appears to Amanda’s friend Julia.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Amanda and Rudger are playing hide and seek when all of the lights in the house go out and the creepy girl comes in. Lightning and thunder occur and the girl tries to carry Rudger out of the house.
  • Rudger meets a toy robot who’s disappearing because his friend doesn’t want him anymore. Rudger is scared that he’ll disappear too.
  • Amanda bumps into Mr Bunting who has a snake around his neck. He wants to talk to Rudger. The creepy girl picks Rudger up and Bunting starts sucking him up into his mouth.
  • Zinzan tells how his friend was only young when he died. He didn’t live in a happy home and he asked Zinzan to watch over him at night.
  • An imaginary asks what happens to their friends if Bunting eats them. Emily thinks that maybe their spirits die because of the big hole in their hearts.
  • Lizzie opens a box of Amanda’s and finds a picture of her with her dad. Lizzie cries and remembers Amanda crying, asking, “why did you have to die dad?”.
  • Amanda is seen in hospital with a bandage around her head, in a coma.
  • Bunting eats the wrong imaginary by mistake and goes up in a puff of smoke.

Thirteen and overinfo

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 further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Lizzie drinks beer.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shut up.

In a nutshell

The Imaginary is an animated fantasy movie based on the premise that children’s imaginations are quite vivid and can be both comforting and frightening. It’s unfortunate that the distinction between the imaginary and the real world is not clear and young children are likely to be quite frightened by this movie. It also involves the loss of a parent which is quite emotive. It is therefore more suited to older children and parental guidance is recommended for 8 to 9-year-olds.

The main messages from this movie are to protect those close to you; and that libraries are great places to explore imaginary worlds.

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

  • Loyalty
  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Steadfastness
  • Looking after each other.

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

  • Imaginary villains are not real and children don’t need to be afraid of them.
  • Losing a parent is always hard and children should always be listened to about their fears.