Australian Council on Children and the Media

Little Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas)

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Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 10 (mild comedic violence). Recommended for confident readers, or French speaking children as film is subtitled.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Little Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas)
  • a review of Little Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 August 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to mild comedic violence.
Children aged 5–10 Parental guidance recommended due to mild comedic violence and mild themes. Also, for highly proficient readers or French speaking children.
Children over the age of 10 Ok for this age group. Non-French speaking children must be fast-paced, confident readers.

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: Little Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas)
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild comedic violence.
Length 88 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A French children’s film set in France in the 1950s. Nicholas lives with his Mother and Father and attends a boys’ school where he has a gang of good friends, all who are different in their own special way. Nicholas’ friend comes to school one day very upset about his mother bringing home a baby brother from the hospital. Nicholas starts to worry that maybe his parents are planning on having a baby too, and somehow this idea grows and grows until Nicholas is convinced that not only is a new baby on the way but that his parents are going to abandon him in the woods to make way for the new arrival! Nicholas decides that he must take matters into his own hands and find a way to ‘deal’ with the baby when it arrives. His school friends rally around and together they think up a series of hilarious and mischievous schemes that don’t quite go to plan!

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.

Comedy; 1950s Nostalgia; Getting into scrapes and mischief; Birth of a new sibling; School-yard politics; Gambling.

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 teacher pulls a child along by his ear and in another scene the same teacher cuffs a boy hard over the head.
  • Some teachers use a lot of verbal abuse, shouting at the children a lot, telling them they are shameful etc.
  • One boy is a ‘teacher’s pet’ who is always telling on the other children. They are not allowed to hit him because he wears glasses. But he is always threatened and everybody hates him. As soon as he takes his glasses off, he gets slapped hard across the face.
  • The boys see a car pull up, they hear gun shots and when the car pulls away they see a man lying, shot on the pavement.
  • The boys start whacking each other with a bunch of roses in a florist and a bunch of cactus plants fall onto the shop assistant, pinning her to the floor.

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:

  • Nicholas is convinced he is going to be taken into the woods and abandoned by his parents. There are some moments where he is genuinely anxious about this and is seen crying in bed.
  • Nicholas imagines his father turns into a scary ogre as he is talking to him at the dinner table. The father’s face transforms into a mean and ugly one.
  • Nicholas’ father sometimes shouts at him in quite an aggressive and passionate way – children who are not accustomed to parents behaving like this might find it a bit distressing.
  • There is a scene where three boys try to drive a car, the brake comes off and the car careens through the streets precariously.
  • Nicholas decides to run away. He packs a suitcase and starts walking down the road in the dark. Spooky music plays and a cat screeches, so he runs home.

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:

  • Younger children in this age group may find some of the above-mentioned scenes a little scary or disturbing.

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.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Rolls Royce.

Sexual references

There are some mild romantic and sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Nicholas asks his mum, “How do you make babies?”, and she is embarrassed and avoids answering the question.
  • Nicholas is disgusted when his parents start acting all lovey-dovey with each other over the dining table. They giggle and kiss each other affectionately.
  • Nicholas tells a little girl that she is very pretty and he seems to have a slight crush on her.
  • Nicholas’ father is daydreaming about getting a promotion at work, in which he has a beautiful secretary sitting provocatively on his desk taking notes for him.
  • There is a lot of gender stereotyping in this movie, consistent with 1950s norms. For example, Nicholas is almost ashamed when he is caught playing ‘girl’s games’ with a family friend.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Nicholas’s mother is very nervous about a dinner party and starts drinking wine and champagne to calm her nerves. She drinks too much and becomes tipsy.
  • Nicholas’s father pretends to smoke a pipe.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Dimwit
  • Nitwit.

In a nutshell

Little Nicholas is a light and fluffy film adaptation of the 1950’s children’s books series Le Petit Nicolas by French writer Rene Goscinny (who wrote the Asterix comic books). The film is picture-perfect and pretty with some gentle laughs and cheeky misadventures to make everyone smile. An easy family film but the English subtitles are quite fast paced so readers will have to be quite proficient to pick up all of the dialogue. For this reason, it’s best suited to children aged ten or over who are confident readers.

The main messages from this movie are that welcoming a new baby into the family can be challenging but it’s also very rewarding; and that sometimes children misunderstand the intentions of adults.

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

  • Children can be excellent independent problem solvers.
  • Taking initiative.

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

  • Set in the 1950s, this film has a lot of gender stereotyping consistent with the norms of the time. You could discuss with your children how things have changed or whether there are still gender stereotypes that need to be challenged.
  • Children might find it interesting to see how different school was in the 1950s, and you could discuss with them the attitudes towards discipline (shouting, hitting children etc.).
  • The boys attempt to make money using a mini roulette wheel. Some children may be curious about what this is and what gambling is.

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