Australian Council on Children and the Media

No Reservations

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Short takes

Lacks interest for younger children; PG to 13 (Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for No Reservations
  • a review of No Reservations completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 August 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Lacks interest for younger children; parental guidance recommended due to the theme of loss of a parent.
Children over the age of 13 OK 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.

Name of movie: No Reservations
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, Infrequent mild coarse language
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a chef who is in charge of a kitchen at an exclusive restaurant in Manhattan. She is a perfectionist and extremely good at her job. Kate likes to be in complete control and therefore will not allow anyone or anything to upset her daily routine and the way she runs her kitchen. Her work is her life and her wish is that life be like a cook book: you pick the right ingredients, follow the directions and everything works out perfectly.
Life changes when Kate’s sister is killed in an accident and she is forced to care for her nine year old niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Suddenly her ordered and controlled world is turned upside down. She has to try to understand and look after a grieving child she hardly knows and she can no longer come and go as she pleases.
The first week or two are a disaster and the restaurant owner, Paula (Patricia Clarkson), gives Kate time off to sort things out. Whilst she is away a new sous chef, Nick Palmer (Aaron Eckhart), is brought in to help out. The plan is ultimately to keep him as a replacement for Kate’s pregnant assistant. Nick is the complete opposite of everything that Kate thinks is important - loud and relaxed and unpredictable.
Returning to work, Kate has the dual task of learning to work with her new assistant and caring for a niece who she is growing to love, but finds difficult.

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.

Death of a parent/sibling; family conflict

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.

The only scene that involves violence occurs when Kate is incensed because someone has questioned her ability to cook a rare steak. She is so angry she takes out a raw steak and skewers it to the customer’s table with a big fork, then rips the table cloth from under the plates.

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.

The violent scene mentioned above may worry younger children.  Children under 5 may also be disturbed by the film’s central theme of a child’s mother being killed in an accident and the scenes of family distress and conflict involving Zoe and her aunt.

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.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

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.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

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.

Children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by this film.

Product placement

Product placement was minimal. Zoe’s mum drove a BMW. Nick drove a ‘Dodge pickup” Kate and Zoe played the game of Monopoly.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Kate is blindfolded and Nick gets her to taste some sauces he has made. This is done in a sensuous manner and has sexual overtones.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • several scenes where Kate and Nick kiss.

Use of substances

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

  • Kate gets slightly drunk on red wine.
  • Other scenes of alcohol being drunk

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • ‘hell’, ‘damn’, ‘my God’

In a nutshell

No Reservations is a romantic comedy based on the German film Mostly Martha. The movie’s message is that life cannot be controlled and is never ‘made to order’ but that you need to be flexible and deal with whatever challenges you are faced with. It also highlights the need for life/work balance and the importance of relationships and family.
The movie also shows the need to be flexible in working with others and to try to understand how others work.

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