Australian Council on Children and the Media

My Life as a Zucchini

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Short takes

Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 13 (disturbing themes, sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for My Life as a Zucchini
  • a review of My Life as a Zucchini completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 May 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to disturbing themes and sexual references.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing themes and sexual references.
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: My Life as a Zucchini
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and sexual references
Length 67 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Zucchini (voice of Erick Abbate) is a nine year old boy who suddenly finds himself as an orphan. He is taken to an orphanage by a friendly policeman called Raymond (Nick Offerman) where he is taken into care by Madame Papineau (Susanne Blakeslee). Rosy (Ellen Page), one of the workers at the orphanage, introduces Zucchini to his new companions: Simon (Romy Beckman), Ahmed (Barry Mitchel), Jujube (Elliot Sanchez), Alice (Clara Young) and Beatrice (Olivia Bucknor). At first the children laugh at Zucchini, particularly for his name which is what his mother called him, but they soon become good friends.

Simon is the oldest and can be a bit of a bully but it turns out that he is actually kind hearted. All the children are at the orphanage for different tragic reasons and Simon's is because his parents were both drug addicts. A new girl called Camille (Ness Krell) arrives and Zucchini immediately takes a liking to her. Camille had seen her father shoot her mother dead and then commit suicide. At one time, all of the children visit a ski field where they have a lot of fun skiing and throwing snowballs at each other. Raymond continues to visit Zucchini and often takes him and Camille out on various outings. Raymond becomes increasingly fond of the two children and decides to adopt them. It is a hard decision for Zucchini to make; whether to go with Raymond or stay with his friends.

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.

Orphans; dysfunctional families; children separated from their parents.

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:

  • Zucchini's Mum can be heard shouting at the television set and throwing cans of beer at it.
  • Zucchini believes he may have accidentally killed his mother when she came up to his attic bedroom in a temper, threatening to give him a spanking, and he shut the door down hard.
  • In the classroom Simon pulls a chair out from beneath Zucchini.
  • Simon shoves Alice out of the way so he can sit next to Zucchini.
  • Zucchini attacks Simon because he stole his kite which is precious to him.
  • Ahmed drops water bombs on Raymond whenever he visits.
  • Some rough play on the snowfield – Simon crashes into a snowman. The children throw snowballs at each other.
  • Aunt Ida (Camille's Aunt) says she'll kick Camille's friend's ass.
  • Aunt Ida takes Camille away by force.

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:

  • Zucchini, Camille and Raymond go on a ghost train which is dark and spooky inside. Ghosts appear to frighten the children.

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:

  • Zucchini is seen cowering in a corner while thunder booms and lightning strikes.
  • Zucchini is taken into a home where he misses his mother.

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:

  • Zucchini's mother was an alcoholic and he never knew his father.
  • One of the boys wets his bed at night and gets called a girlie.
  • Mme Papineau tells Zucchini that his mother has gone to heaven.
  • Beatrice's mother was deported back to Africa, leaving her an orphan.
  • Alice's dad is in jail because he 'did gross things to her'.
  • Ahmed's dad is also in jail because he held up a store.
  • Simon says the children have no-one left to love them.
  • Camille says that if she has to go back to her Aunt's, she'll kill herself. She thinks her aunt will beat her.
  • Aunt Ida calls Camille a tramp like her mother.

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.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Simon implies that boys need to be the boss of girls.
  • Jujube asks about the 'thing' that happens between boys and girls. Simon says he knows because he's seen a lot of videos. First, the boy wiggles, then the girl wiggles and gets all sweaty. Jujube asks if 'your willy explodes'? Simon says that you're exhausted afterwards. Girls just agree and say 'oui oui oui'.
  • Rosy and Mr Paul, the teacher, kiss. The boys say that if they were in bed Rosy would sweat a lot and Mr Paul's willy would explode.
  • Zucchini kisses Camille on the cheek.
  • Rosy becomes pregnant. The children feel her tummy and one of the boys says it is because of Mr Paul's willy.
  • Aunt Ida (Camille's Aunt) walks up a staircase. The boys hiding beneath can see her knickers.
  • Zucchini and Camille kiss.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

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

  • Zucchini's mother is seen drinking cans of beer.
  • Simon's parents are drug addicts.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Ass
  • Fart
  • Some name calling such as:
    • Shut up big trap
    • Moron
    • Freak
    • Fatso.

In a nutshell

My Life as a Zucchini is a French claymation movie (with subtitles) that deals with very traumatic childhood situations in a gentle and uplifting manner. The orphaned children are lucky enough to find themselves in a caring facility where they are well looked after and find strong bonds with each other. There are positive outcomes and messages in the movie but some of the content is not suitable for children under 10 and parental guidance is recommended to 13.

The main messages from this movie are the need for love and friendship and that family doesn't need to be a biological one.

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

  • Empathy
  • Kindness
  • Friendship
  • Redemption.

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

  • Some children have very difficult home lives and sometimes they might act badly because of this.
  • Why did Simon behave as a bully? In the end he turns out to be caring and kind but he must have felt the need to prove himself. Was this due to the fact that he was a neglected child?
  • The boys discuss sex quite a lot and this could give parents an opportunity to discuss the subject with their children.

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