image for Leo

Short takes

Not recommended under 5; parental guidance to 8 (themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Leo
  • a review of Leo completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 November 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to themes.
Children aged 5–8 Parental guidance recommended due to themes.
Children aged 9 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: Leo
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Rude/suggestive material and some language (OC)
Length: 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Leo (voiced by Adam Sandler) is a jaded, 74-year-old lizard that has been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades with his turtle terrarium-mate Squirtle (voiced by Bill Burr). When Leo learns the fate of only having one more year to live, he decides that it is time to escape and experience life in the outside world.

On this journey of self-discovery, Leo finds he is a little more than just a class pet. During the class ‘take a pet home’ assignment, the students discover that Leo can talk. With this development, Leo finds himself in a position to be able to help the students whom he once watched from behind the terrarium glass. During his home visits, Leo gets to learn what makes the students unique, and the students share their concerns and worries. With his wise 74 years of classroom wisdom, Leo is about to make the biggest impact on the students’ lives. But when Leo finally gets his chance to be free, what will hold him back?


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; Friendship; Musical; School-age drama, Companionship.

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:

  • Students discussing other classmates behind their backs when deciding who to invite to a party – calling them weirdos or yuck.
  • Crashing figurines against each other in the bathtub.
  • When students are discussing how they are going to treat the substitute teachers, they text that they will, “Shoot her with rubber bands, throw gummies at her and glue her to the chair”.
  • Leo says to Eli (Roey Smigel), “Don’t tell anyone or they will kill me”.
  • A pony says, “He has bitten some of its owner’s fingers off”. Then it shows the owner’s hand with missing fingers.
  • Leo and Squirtle tell the students they will die if they tell their parents that the animals talk.
  • Ms. Malkin (Cecily Strong) is hit in the head by traffic cones when she almost falls out of the bus.

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:

  • When Leo loses a part of his tail (in a vacuum cleaner), a scene is shown where you can see flesh and bone.

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.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Cheese Doodles
  • Doritos
  • Cheetos
  • Facebook.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Leo gets hit in the genitals with a golf ball and calls it his “Jellybeans”.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • A child, chatting, mentions that he knows of a kid who smokes at school.
  • Leo says, “if you’ve had six or seven beers”.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Brat
  • Dork
  • Stupid
  • Weirdo
  • Head-case
  • Shut up
  • Jeez
  • Oh my God.

In a nutshell

Leo is a heartfelt, coming-of-age story portraying the last year of elementary/primary school, as seen through the eyes of a class pet. With Adam Sandler’s humour, combined with primary school dynamics, the film is likely to leave the audience holding back tears and giggling with light-hearted humour. Best suited for families with children over 8, with parental guidance from ages 5 to 8.

The main messages from this movie are about the importance of friendship; and that sometimes not all problems require solutions, just someone to be there to listen.

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

  • Friendship
  • Kindness
  • Valuing difference and diversity – understanding there are many common occurrences and a variety of ‘norms’ that come along with children in school, including friendship issues, different family circumstances, shyness, class clowns etc.

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

  • Childhood behaviours, such as bullying.
  • School children dynamics.