My Father's Dragon

image for My Father's Dragon

Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 7 (violence, themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for My Father's Dragon
  • a review of My Father's Dragon completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 December 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 5–7 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 7 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: My Father's Dragon
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence, themes, fantasy themes, scary scenes
Length: 143 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Elmer (voice of Jacob Tremblay) and his mum (voice of Golshifteh Farahani) live happily in a small town tending their shop but when things get bad and the town becomes abandoned, they must move to the city to try to make a new start. With nothing but the dream of starting a new store, they scrape together enough money to rent an apartment. However, when the last of their money is gone, Elmer runs away determined to find the means to open the store himself. Elmer hears of a legendary dragon being held captive by wild animals and forced to repeatedly lift their island so that they won’t drown, and he sets off to free him so that he can bring the dragon home and use him to make money for the store. Boris the dragon (voice of Gaten Matarazzo) is very grateful to be free and instantly becomes friends with Elmer but the animals have no intention of letting them get away. Because Boris’s wing is injured, he is unable to fly and must figure out a way to transform himself into a legendary, powerful, dragon so that they can leave the island. Together they search for an ancient turtle that is rumoured to have the answers, while the animals, led by Saiwa, a giant gorilla (voice of Ian McShane), chase the pair all over the island determined to recapture Boris and keep their home from sinking into the sea.

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.

Finding your destiny; Self-transformation; Poverty; Fear of the unknown; The struggle for power; The struggle to survive.

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:

  • Kids grab at Elmer’s jar. They shove and clutch at it until they succeed in stealing his one precious coin.
  • A cat tells Elmer that he hopes he (Elmer) doesn’t drown or get eaten.
  • Elmer is told the tale of wild animals with big pokey teeth and claws that captured a dragon so that it will continue to lift up their sinking island.
  • Elmer is knocked off the back of a white whale by a giant wave. He manages to cling onto a giant root and gets lifted out of the water.
  • Wild monkeys smack each other.
  • Elmer kicks a monkey in the face and the monkey throws a flaming branch back at Elmer.
  • Boris and Elmer fall down a cliff and Boris hurts his wing.
  • A creepy, wiry, crocodile tells Elmer that he will snap him in two, as he keeps trying to bite Elmer.
  • The wild monkeys are coming for Elmer and Boris as water begins to flood an area. A large monkey grabs him and holds Boris’s tail, trying to pull him back, but loses his grip and the pair escape.
  • A huge tiger grabs Elmer and then Boris. They talk about taking a first bite and how juicy Elmer must be. More tigers join and then have a fight over Elmer, ready to bite him until Elmer offers them a different type of treat.
  • Elmer and Boris fall into a flooded pit.
  • Boris kicks a turtle shell and he and Elmer discover the skull and bones of the turtle they had been searching for.
  • All the animals are getting ready to drown, there is panic as Boris is retied and tries to lift the island up again.
  • Elmer nearly drowns when his backpack is caught on a root.

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:

  • Boris dives down into the blue, fiery depths of the Earth, a place that used to scare him. He is expected to transform into a wonderful dragon but he seems to disappear into the fiery blaze and not come out. Elmer is devastated as he thinks his friend has died. He is very sad and is crying a lot, until Boris finally emerges, transformed and shooting flames from his snout.

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:

  • When Elmer and Boris are in a dark pit there is another animal moving in the shadows. It is stomping and crashing and very creepy in the darkness. It turns out to be a mother Rhino who is just trapped and terrified that she and her baby will die in the flooded pit as there is no way out. When the other animals come to the pit it looks as though Boris and Elmer will finally be caught but the Rhino protects them and, when the others have left, they are finally able to escape.

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

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Runt
  • Useless
  • Shut up!

In a nutshell

My Father’s Dragon is an animated adventure based on the 1948 award winning children’s book by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Unsuitable for very young children, the film will be best enjoyed by slightly older kids or fans of the picture book.

The main messages from this movie are to believe in yourself, even when no one else does; and to remember that being a good friend is far more important than being right.

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

  • Friendship
  • Resourcefulness
  • Courage
  • Insight
  • Determination.

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

  • Running away and not telling anyone where you are going or when you will be back.
  • Trying to do everything yourself and not listening to others, even when they have important insights to share.
  • Being scared of what you might face instead of confronting your fear.
  • The dangers of talking to strangers.