Minari

image for Minari

Short takes

Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 13 (subtitled, strong emotional themes, some coarse language, mild substance use, mature themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Minari
  • a review of Minari completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 February 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to mature themes (e.g marital tension, death and illness), subtitles (ok for confident readers) and possible lack of interest.
Children aged 12–13 Parental guidance recommended due to strong emotional scenes and mature 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: Minari
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 115 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the 1980s, Minari is the story of a young South Korean immigrant family (the Yi family) who have relocated from California, where they belonged to a large Korean community, to the rural backwaters of Arkansas. The ambitious father, Jacob (Steven Yeun), has plans to create a market garden, growing Korean vegetables to sell to the Korean communities. His wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), is sceptical of his dreams and horrified to find herself living in a trailer home in the middle of nowhere. They have two children, David (Alan Kim) and Anne (Noel Kate Cho). David has a heart condition which means that he needs to be careful not to overexert himself. Monica is concerned that something might happen to David if he is left all alone whilst she and their father are working all day and arranges for her mother to come out from Korea to live with them and care for the boy. Although David is at first not impressed with his Grandmother (according to him she just does not behave like a normal grandmother – she doesn’t bake cookies, she swears too much and she wears men’s underwear), they slowly develop a beautiful and respectful relationship. When things take a quick turn for the worst, the family must struggle to overcome the tension between them and find the reasons that hold them together.

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.

Immigration; Family; Parents separating; Grandparents; South Korean Culture; Nature; Tragedy; Illness and Mortality; The American dream; Christianity; Faith; Religion.

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 young boy throws a stone at a snake to scare it away.
  • Several scenes of a husband and wife arguing and shouting angrily at each other. There is no physical violence – apart from one scene where the husband bangs his fist down loudly on the table - but a lot of emotional and psychological tension. The two children are in the next room listening and feeling upset by it.
  • When the father hears some bad news, he is overcome by frustration and anger and begins to violently kick objects.
  • A father threatens to punish his son for being naughty by telling him to bring ‘the stick’ to him. This happens twice in the film and it is implied that ‘the stick’ is used to punish the boy (although this is never seen). As this movie is set in the 80s, this was not an uncommon form of discipline at the time and there is not any suggestion that the boy is being treated abusively.
  • A husband and wife work in a hatchery, sexing chicks. The husband stands outside the hatchery with his son and they watch plumes of smoke rise from a chimney. The son asks what it is, and his father explains that it is what happens to the male chicks as they are useless – the implication is that the male chicks are being incinerated.

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:

  • A storm threatens the family and they fear that their mobile home is going to be carried away by a tornado. The lights flicker and the power comes on and off and the wind is howling around the house. The family huddle together in fear. The storm passes and they are unharmed.
  • David drops a drawer onto his leg, leaving a gash which bleeds a lot.
  • A neighbour, who helps out on the farm, is an eccentric, religious, fanatic who behaves erratically and strangely at times. For example, several times he is overcome with religious feeling and begins talking in tongues. Another time we see him hauling a giant wooden cross on his back up a dirt track and he says that it is, “his church”. He also performs a sort of exorcism in the family’s trailer home.
  • David wets the bed and hides his soiled underpants under the mattress. He feels ashamed when his mother finds them.
  • David has a heart murmur and lives with the anxiety that he should not exert himself physically. He feels like he must be weak and vulnerable and sometimes he shows how sad it makes him. One day he overhears his mother discussing how dangerous the condition is and how he could die at any moment. He cries with his grandmother about how he doesn’t want to see heaven yet. His grandmother comforts him and tells him he is a strong boy. Thankfully we see that David’s condition is improving with time.
  • There is a strong sense of sadness between the mother and the father as they struggle to cope with the adversity they are facing.
  • David is sharing a bed with his grandmother. He wakes up to find that she has had a stroke. His sister and he must get a message to their mother at work. When the grandmother returns from hospital, she has lost a lot of mobility and speech which is a huge transformation from previously.
  • The grandmother is burning rubbish and accidentally knocks some burning matter onto the grass. The fire quickly spreads and engulfs the barn where all the harvest is being stored. The mother and father rush into the flames to try and save as much produce as possible – their children watch in horror and worry that their parents are not going to come out alive.

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:

  • Children in this age group are likely to find the above scenes 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.

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:

  • Children in this age group will be more sensitive to the adult themes and psychological tension in this film.
  • For children who have experienced their parents separating, they may be affected or triggered by the scenes of parents fighting and discussing separation.

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.

  • For children who have experienced their parents separating, they may be affected or triggered by the scenes of parents fighting and discussing separation.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Mountain Dew.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The father is seen naked from the waist up, sitting in a bathtub. His wife comes and sits behind him and washes his hair for him.

Use of substances

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

  • Adults smoke cigarettes.
  • Two young boys try out chewing tobacco.

Coarse language

There are some racist comments, coarse language and mild toilet humour in this movie, including:

  • A boy asks David why his “face is so flat”, referring to his Korean features.
  • A girl asks Anne if she can “talk in her language” and then starts making stereotypical racist Asian language sounds – she is not intending to be insulting and shows a genuine interest in Anne’s language – but it shows the casual ignorance and racism that the family must encounter on a daily basis.
  • David tells his sister that his grandmother “smells like Korea”, in a way that is derogatory.
  • When she is at church, the grandmother mutters about how fat Americans are.
  • Insults and name-calling, e.g Dumb; Rascal; Selfish; Bastards; Stupid; Hillbilly.
  • Religious exclamations.
  • Some rude hand gestures.
  • A grandmother teases her grandson about wetting the bed, pointing to his crotch and saying that he has a “broken penis” and a “broken dingdong”.
  • A boy urinates into a teacup and gives it to his grandmother to drink.

In a nutshell

Minari is a beautiful family drama that is tender, gentle and very moving. It gives us a strong narrative of how families can stick together through adversity. Although Minari portrays a Korean family in America, the story will be universally recognisable to immigrant communities in any country and from any culture; speaking of our human desire to belong and to prosper, but with longing for the familiarity and ease of a mother culture. Minari is mostly in Korean with English subtitles so it will be hard for younger children to follow along unless they are quite proficient readers (approximately grade 4 or 5). In addition, the themes explored are more suited to adult or older teen audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that families can stick together in times of adversity and they will pull through to the other side; and that sometimes we must work hand in hand with nature rather than trying to bend it to our will.

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

  • The important and special role that grandparents can play in a child’s life.
  • That families have the ability to ‘ride out’ the tough times in life.
  • Being observant and working with nature can reap big rewards.
  • The difference between doing what is good for the group/community instead of what is good for the individual.

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

  • The family are often subjected to small, ignorant comments or observations about how they are ‘different’ from Americans because they are Korean (see coarse language section for examples). Although none of these are intentionally mean spirited, they are good examples of ‘microaggression which can be exhausting and dispiriting for immigrants to experience on a daily basis, year on year. Parents could take the opportunity to discuss how we can respectfully talk to people from cultures outside of our own, particularly if we are part of the dominant culture. Some comments may seem perfectly innocent but are actually insensitive and hurtful.