Mr Deeds

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Short takes

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

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mr Deeds
  • a review of Mr Deeds completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 January 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended, violence and language
Children 8 - 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and language
Children over 15 Should be okay 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Mr Deeds
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence, low level course language
Length: 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Longfellow Deeds is the very popular local pizza shop owner in the small town of Mandrake Falls. He moonlights as a bad poet trying to write verses for Hallmark cards. He is a regular ‘nice’ guy who talks to old ladies, helps old men across the street and visits people in prison; nevertheless he is no ‘push over’. Unbeknown to him, he has a very rich uncle, Preston Blake, who dies climbing Mt Everest and leaves Deeds forty billion dollars.

Blake was the head of an extensive corporation, the heads of which are very keen to maintain control and keep Deeds out of the picture. They bring Deeds to New York to sign the documents which will hand control of the company back to Chuck Cedar, the present manager. Deeds is quite unaffected by the wealth and all the trappings that go with it and continues to be the same nice, simple, friendly guy. Cedar and his cohorts mistake Deeds’ childlikeness as stupidity and set out to make him look like a fool. They have an unwitting accomplice in the form of Babe Bennett a local reporter for a news station who is trying to get the ‘goss’ on Deeds. She masquerades as Pam Dawson a ‘nice’ girl from a small town. She manages to win Deeds’ heart and loses hers at the same time.

Deeds is heartbroken when he discovers the deception and decides to give his fortune away to charity. He also signs away his shareholding in the company. Cedar then goes about breaking up the company which will benefit all of the shareholders but it means putting thousands of people out of work. When Deeds hears about this, he buys back a share in the company and persuades the other shareholders not to sell. Bennett begs for forgiveness and all ends well between her and Deeds.

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 quite a bit of violence in this film – mainly cartoon style and usually set in a comic context:

  • Deeds makes the valet (Emillio) hit his foot with a poker to prove he has no feeling in it. Emillio does this with great vigour and repeatedly stabs the foot with the poker
  • Deeds throws cats out of a burning apartment. They all land on the trampoline and bounce off again to be caught safely by someone—one is caught by a dog. The last cat to be thrown out (there are 7) is on fire and lands in a bucket of water.
  • Deeds jumps with woman out of the apartment and lands on top of her in a suggestive position
  • Deeds plays tennis with Chuck and hits the ball so hard it knocks Chuck out; this is done several times.

Other violent scenes include:

  • Deeds punches several men in a restaurant for making fun of him.
  • Deeds rescues Babe who’s pretending to be robbed by her friend Marty. Deeds chases Marty, knocks him down and repeatedly punches him
  • Babe gets into a fight with Jan, a Mandrake Falls woman. They kick and fight each other very aggressively. Jan threatens to cut her into eight pieces.

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 quite a lot of scenes that could frighten younger children including:

  • Preston Blake is shown at the start of the film climbing Mt. Everest. He goes up when everyone else goes down and dies in his attempt. He is shown frozen in a stiff climbing position.
  • Emillio stabbing the poker into Deeds’ foot.
  • Deeds opens the coffin at the funeral and Blake springs up into sitting position. Deeds tries to stuff him back into the coffin and breaks Blake’s hand in the process.
  • The cats being thrown out of the window especially the cat on fire.
  • Footballer’s father takes his belt off to belt him for using “bad language in front of the ladies”.
  • Old man pulls his knee out of its socket and twists it.
  • Babe falls through thin ice and nearly drowns; Deeds rescues her.
  • Babe and Jan fighting.

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.

Most of the violence in this film is cartoon style however a lot of it is over the top and could upset children in this age group such as when Deeds is punching Marty. Also in the scene where Babe falls through the ice, she is in real danger.

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

There are some verbal sexual references in this film including:

  • A line of one of Deeds’ poems says I will still love you when “your bosoms sag down to the floor”.
  • An old man and a younger girl are shown dancing very seductively
  • The news station manager, an Aussie, laughs at the idea of Babe being a virgin.
  • A man talks about squeezing his girlfriend’s “big false boobs”.

Nudity and sexual activity

Marty is seen showering and his naked backside is shown.

Use of substances

There is a fair amount of drinking of alcohol and smoking in the film. Mr Deeds goes out with John McEnroe one night on the town and they get very drunk. They throw eggs at cars. The next day Deeds has a hangover.

Coarse language

The following words are used quite frequently:

  • shit
  • bullshit

The word ‘fucking’ is obviously said but not heard. The ‘finger’ is given a couple of times.

In a nutshell

The main themes of this film are that there are more important things in life than money and that it is important to maintain the ‘child within’.

Values that parents may wish to encourage include:

  • kindness
  • generosity
  • selflessness
  • community spirit
  • openness
  • honesty.

Values that parents may wish to discourage include:

  • punching people out who don’t agree with you
  • deceitfulness.