Australian Council on Children and the Media

Kicking and Screaming

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Kicking and Screaming
  • a review of Kicking and Screaming completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 August 2005.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the frequent use of violence this film is not recommended for children under the age of eight.
Children aged 8-13 Children between the ages of 8-13 could view this film with parental guidance.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of thirteen could see this film 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: Kicking and Screaming
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) has been stigmatised as a klutz from an early age and desperately wants is to make his athletic, competitive, father (Robert Duvall) proud of him. He isn’t able to achieve this and when he grows up, instead of joining his father in the sporting goods business, opens a vitamin store. Phil marries his college sweetheart (Kate Walsh) and within a year they have a son, Sam (Dylan McLaughlan). On the same day his father and his father’s new wife also have a son, Buckie.

Sam and Buckie grow up together and both play for the same soccer team coached by the elder Mr. Weston. While Buckie shows the makings of a true soccer champion, Sam is used as a ‘benchwarmer’. When the coach trades Sam to the losing team, Phil winds up becoming that team’s coach. At first he encourages the kids to get out there and have fun and then he decides to prove to his father that he is capable of coaching the team to the championships. Enlisting the help of former hall-of-famer Mike Ditka (who plays himself) and some local Italian talent, Phil and his team enjoy victory after victory, until all Phil can see is his ultimate goal of winning.

It takes a wake-up call from Sam to make him realise that while his tactics may win him the game, they may also lose him his son. In the end Phil realises the importance of encouraging the kids to use their own talents, allowing them to simply be kids and most importantly ensuring that they just enjoy playing the game.

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.

Kicking and Screaming contains frequent use of violence, much of which appears to have no consequences, including:

  • an altercation between the elder Coach Weston and his neighbour which involves verbal threats, throwing leaves from one side of the fence to the other and Phil being hit in the back with a ball.
  • Phil hyperventilates and is slapped in the face by his wife.
  • Phil kicks his son twice in the leg.
  • various characters are repeatedly shoved and punched throughout the film.
  • Phil’s father repeatedly hits his son with a ball during a ‘competition’. Phil is knocked to the ground and beaten up badly; his body is covered with red impact marks.
  • not wanting to wait his turn, Phil instigates a fight in the local coffee shop. He is eventually grabbed by the neck and forced out the door. Moments later he returns and violently attacks the door trying to get back inside.
  • during a game, Phil roughly shoves a child to the ground and then lies about it.
  • Phil encourages his team to go out and break their opponent’s clavicles. He tells them to play dirty, just not to get caught.

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.

There are a few scenes in the film that may frighten and confuse younger viewers, including:

  • Phil and his team are sitting outside at night, around a fire, while he graphically discusses eating one of the players. Phil then instructs them to bay at the moon. This attracts numerous barking, growling, dogs that chase the screaming children into the night. The dark, creepy, chaos accompanying the scene would worry many young children.
  • Phil takes his team to the butcher shop to help his two star players butcher some meat. Phil uses a chainsaw while the rest stand round to watch him. The team arrives within moments of the game beginning, everyone is covered in blood. The people in the crowd are horror-stricken and the opposing team forfeits with the terrified coach instructing his team to get away as fast as they can. The scene was especially grotesque and would likely be confusing to a number of children.
  • Phil overdoses on coffee, and starts yelling and screaming, belittling and attacking everyone who is near him, including his own family. He is overwrought and irrational and his behaviour really affects his son. Many children may be frightened by this sudden, dramatic, and violent change in parental behaviour.

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 scared 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.

Some younger children in the eight to thirteen age bracket could also be concerned by 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.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen would be frightened by this film.

Sexual references

Coach Weston makes a commercial for himself and his store using the line ‘He’s Got Balls!’ as his advertising slogan.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is some mild use of substances:

  • Ditka smokes a cigar in his home.
  • Ditka drinks Russian Vodka from his coffee cup and encourages Phil to try.
  • beer is consumed, as are various drinks at a parents’ night.
  • coffee is heavily used as a stimulant throughout the movie. According to the coaches, coffee is ‘the lifeblood that fuels the dreams of champions’ and it is repeatedly displayed and consumed, including a drink called ‘half-caff’, a mixture of French Roast and Irish Cream.

Coarse language

The film contains some minor coarse language and a lot of name-calling, including:

  • frequent use of ‘Go to hell!’, ‘Hell’ ‘Shut up!’ and ‘Klutz’
  • occasional use of ‘I’d whip your butt!’
  • Phil shouting out ‘Losers!’ to some children
  • Phil calling one child Fart-face Jones, Farty pants, and Fart face kid

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is that winning means different things to different people, and that when it comes to sports it doesn’t matter who comes out ahead, the most important thing is having fun. This movie could provide parents with the opportunity to discuss what sportsmanship is and what it really means to play well.

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