Australian Council on Children and the Media

James and the Giant Peach

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Short takes

Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 13 (violence, scary scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for James and the Giant Peach
  • a review of James and the Giant Peach completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 April 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and supernatural themes.
Children aged 8–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and supernatural themes.
Children over the age of 13 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: James and the Giant Peach
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 84 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

James and the Giant Peach is an animated and live-action adaptation of the classic novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. James (voiced by Paul Terry) is forced to live with his dreadful Aunts (Miriam Margolyes and Joanna Lumley) after both of his loving parents were eaten by a rhinoceros. One night, James encounters a man who gives him magical crocodile tongues that produce a giant peach. After escaping from his Aunts in the peach, James befriends a group of insects who help him to navigate the peach through land and sea to the wonderful city of New York.

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.

Parent abandonment; the supernatural.

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:

  • A caterpillar and a cricket fight over food, throttling each other.
  • The cricket kicks the caterpillar in the face.
  • The cricket kicks a centipede in the head and hits him with a cane.
  • Skeletons come to life and growl at the centipede. These skeletons appear to be torturing the centipede by stretching his spine. The skeletons are depicted wielding weapons and fighting the insects and James, resulting in a loss of the skeletons’ limbs.
  • A rope is thrown around a bird’s neck and pulled tight to stop it.
  • A spear is shot from the mouth of a mechanical shark.
  • A centipede comes very close to being killed by the sharp teeth of a shark.

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:

  • James’ Aunts are depicted as witch-like characters, wearing white makeup and making frightening facial expressions. James is scared by them.
  • A rhino silhouette in the form of clouds reminds James of his parents’ demise. This silhouette, with yellow eyes and lightning protruding from its horn, also appears later in the film running at James.
  • James attempts to save a spider from his Aunt who wants to squash it. As his Aunt is chasing James, they both trip and fall down the stairs.
  • A strange man grabs James’ hands suddenly and disappears. Crocodile tongues along with mutilated parts of animals are described to make the seeds.
  • Scenes of James crying.
  • James transforms from a human into an animated character.
  • Ominously, silhouettes of the insects appear inside the peach. A spider appears suddenly and scares James.
  • A giant mechanical shark with razor-sharp teeth jumps from the water and attacks the insects by shooting spears from its mouth. It is depicted with red eyes and accompanied by ominous music.
  • James has a dream where he has the body of a caterpillar with his human head, running away from his Aunts who are spraying him with pesticides. The background is grey and cloudy with scary atmospheric music.
  • Scary depiction of the Aunts underwater as part of a sunken ship where skeletons, skulls and crossbones are also displayed. In this underwater scene, there is a fight between James, the insects, and skeletons which have come back to life. These skeletons use sharp swords and attack James and the insects.
  • James transforms from an animated character back to human form.
  • The Aunts exit their waterlogged car with their clothes dripping wet and make-up running. They attempt to attack James with an axe.
  • While the Aunts are tied up in a spider’s web they are kicked by a cricket.

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:

  • James’ parents were both eaten by a rhinoceros.

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:

  • James is threatened by his Aunt and is shouted at to get back to work.
  • His Aunt threatens to beat James.
  • James’ accusations of being abused through physical harm and lack of access to food.
  • His Aunts attempt to attack James with axes.

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 further of concern.

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:

  • The Aunts smoke tobacco.
  • A centipede smokes a cigar.
  • A spider smokes a cigar.
  • A bottle of wine is displayed.
  • Peach juice is served to look like a glass of beer.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, such as ‘idiot’ and ‘ass’ and numerous insults, including:

  • Lazy little bug
  • Worthless little nothing
  • Stupid dreams out of your head
  • Shut up you little grub
  • Get up you little worm
  • You idiot
  • You dote
  • You sir, are an ASS; and
  • Shake your bloomin’ tail feathers.

In a nutshell

James and the Giant Peach is a wonderful story, incorporating both animated and live-action aspects. The adventure twists its way through adverse situations in the air, land, and sea, however, these adverse situations are followed by lighter moments of friendship and care for one another. This movie is most suitable for tween audiences and older due to scenes that are likely to scare or disturb a younger audience.

The main message from this movie is that family are not just relatives but are also those who help you through tough times and are always there for you.

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

  • Loss
  • Family
  • Love
  • Sacrifice
  • Friendship.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of creating friendships and being kind to others, as there may be instances when you need help from others outside of your family.

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