Me and Orson Welles

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Not recommended for children under 13, PG to 15 (Coarse language, adult themes and sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Me and Orson Welles
  • a review of Me and Orson Welles completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 July 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended for children under 13 due to coarse language, adult themes and sexual references.
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes and sexual references

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: Me and Orson Welles
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language, sexual references
Length: 114 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based in real theatrical history, ‘Me and Orson Welles’ is a romantic coming-of age story about a wannabe teenage thespian, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), who lucks into a role in “Julius Caesar”; a modernised production by brilliant, impetuous young director, Orson Welles at his newly renovated Mercury Theatre in New York City in 1937.

The movie follows the rollercoaster week leading up to opening night that has the charismatic but at times nasty, Welles, staking his entire career on this risky production. Richard mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands behind the scenes. His adventures put an entirely different light on the world of show business back in 1937.


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.

Infidelity, opportunism.

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:

  •  During an assassination scene in the performance, a dagger is plunged into a man’s chest and blood drips from the wound. Other actors are seen with artificial blood on their hands.
  • Orson pushes Richard against a tree and holds him by the scruff of his neck.
  • Orson Wells’ verbally bullies other cast members throughout the movie.

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:

  • Richard accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers which suddenly sends water squirting out and which results in the power going out. In the darkness there is lots of chaos and screaming from the cast members

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.

There are no additional scenes which are likely to frighten children aged five to eight.

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.

There are no additional scenes which are likely to frighten children aged eight to thirteen. 

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.

There are no additional scenes which are likely to frighten children over 13 

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The ‘Weeties’ cereal was mentioned once in the movie.

Sexual references

The movie contains many sexual references throughout including;

  • The entire cast is aware of Orson’s affairs, particularly with his leading lady. They have a special code for when Orson’s pregnant wife visits the theatre;
  • Richard’s older cast members talk about a ‘gymnast’ lover – one commented that he hoped that she held the ‘monkey bars’
  • The cast members enter into a bet as to who can sleep with Sonja first.
  • Sonja informs Richard that her left breast is smaller than her right.
  • Sonja and Richard ‘spend the night together’ after a night of dancing.
  • Sonja tells Richard that Orson wants her to ‘stay with him tonight’
  • Richard tells Orson that “Sonja is his lover”
  • Many cast members discuss who they have slept with within the cast.

Nudity and sexual activity

Although sexual innuendo and references are prevalent throughout the movie, there is only one example of sexual activity in this movie:

  • Richard and Sonja kiss on the lips

Use of substances

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

  • Cast members are constantly smoking cigarettes throughout the movie. Orson Welles’s character is seen smoking Cuban cigars and offers one to Richard – a seventeen year old. Some drinking is also shown (wine, Scotch and champagne) – including Richard being offered and then drinking a glass of red wine.

Coarse language

Mild to moderate profanities are used throughout the movie. Examples include:

  • “bitch of a first affair”
  • “piece of shit”
  • “son of a bitch”
  • “bastard”
  • “arse”
  • “god damn”
  • “shithouse”
  • “arsehole”
  • “talentless little shit”
  • Richard’s character also clearly sticks his finger up at another character who played a prank on him.

In a nutshell

Me and Orson Welles is a movie showing a week in a life of a teenage boy who stumbles into theatrical life on Broadway. The movie portrays deception as rampant among the theatre cast members, as their aspirations for success are the motivation behind their deceit. They lie about their whereabouts and activities, philandering pastimes and adulterous relationships as well as to avoid negative consequences and manipulate others. 

The main messages from this movie are;

  • Taking advantage of opportunities that come your way, discovering that your goals may change with experiences, and achieving fame, do not necessarily equate to being happy or content (in regards to relationships and education)

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

  • Working hard to achieve goals,
  • Abiding by personal morals,
  • Sticking up for personal beliefs


This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of: