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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended under 6 due to possibly scary scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Oddball
  • a review of Oddball completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 September 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Parental guidance recommended due to possibly scary scenes
Children 6 and over 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Oddball
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: General

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Oddball is a feature film based upon the true story of Alan ‘Swampy’ Marsh (Shane Jacobson), an eccentric Victorian chicken farmer who struggled to protect a penguin colony on Middle Island. After several years of the colony residing on the island, wild foxes began to notice their presence and started swimming over to kill them. As a result, their population had been reduced to almost nothing, with only ten penguins left.

Swampy, who takes a keen interest in protecting the penguins, proposes that Italian sheepdogs or maremmas should be used to guard the penguins. He is supported wholeheartedly by his daughter Emily (Sarah Snook), a wildlife officer for the penguin sanctuary and his granddaughter Olivia (Coco Jack Gillies). Emily is trying to juggle her concern for the penguins, her role as a single mother of a young girl, and a new relationship which could take her away from Australia.

Over the course of the film, Swampy and his family overcome the many obstacles they face in protecting the small animals.


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.

Wild life extinction and protection; family and relationships

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 limited violence and some accidental harm in the film, including:

  • Oddball occasionally causes trouble in the village, running into things accidentally. There is an explosion at one point, as a large screen falls to the ground as a result of Oddball’s actions.
  • We hear that foxes have killed and eaten many of the penguins on Middle Island – no graphic images are shown, however.
  • Oddball is captured by the authorities and there are car chases when Swampy tries to retrieve him. No one is injured.

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.

Children in this age group may be scared by some of the scenes described above.

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.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the scenes described above

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 of concern

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.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Emily is managing a new relationship with a man – it is a romantic relationship, but no sexual content is shown or discussed.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is no coarse language, but there are fart jokes where the dog makes an audible sound and people discuss how terrible the smell is.

In a nutshell

Oddball is an entertaining and inspiring film, based on a true story which is likely to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, particularly those aged 8 and over. The movie follows Swampy as he defies the odds, and teaches his maremma dog Oddball how to protect a small colony of penguins. With no one else in the community having faith in Swampy or his canine friend, Swampy is forced to go it alone. The film highlights his strength and determination, his unflinching belief in Oddball, and the intelligence of the dog. It also demonstrates the value of unconditional family support and love.

There are some scenes of accidental harm, Oddball is captured by the dog ranger, and some children may be concerned at the idea of penguins being killed, so parental guidance is recommended under 6.

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

  • Being willing to take risks and make sacrifices in order to cause a positive change in the world.
  • The importance of having family and friends around to help you when you need it.

Parents may also wish to discuss wildlife extinction, and why and how animals should be saved.