Australian Council on Children and the Media

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

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Not suitable under 4; parental guidance to 5 (violent themes, slapstick violence, a scary villain, mild coarse language, consumption of tobacco and alcohol)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
  • a review of One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 August 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 4 Not suitable due to violent themes, slapstick violence, a scary villain, mild coarse language, and consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
Children aged 4-5 Parental guidance recommended due to violent themes, slapstick violence, a scary villain, mild coarse language, and consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
Children aged 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.

Name of movie: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact
Length 79 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Spring is in the air and Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor), a handsome Dalmatian, has had enough of leading a boring and lonely bachelor's life! When he spots a gorgeous female Dalmatian called Perdita (voiced by Cate Bauer), along with her beautiful owner Anita (voiced by Lisa Davis), he takes matters into his own paws to make sure that he and his owner, Roger (voiced by Ben Wright), get the attractive pair's attention. His efforts lead to everyone taking an involuntary plunge in a pond – oops – but it was all worth it because Pongo's dream comes true: Roger and Anita fall in love and get married, and a few months later, Pongo and Perdita are exhilarated at the arrival of 15 adorable puppies. Everything could be perfect if it wasn't for Anita's vicious old school friend, Cruella de Vil (voiced by Betty Lou Gerson) who – for mysterious reasons – insists on buying the entire litter of puppies. Roger, who does not trust Cruella, refuses to sell the puppies to her, much to everyone's relief. Ruthless Cruella does not take no for an answer, however, and sends her two henchmen Horace and Jasper to dognap the puppies – with terrible intentions: She wants to use their fur to make a Dalmatian fur coat! When the police have no success in locating the puppies, Pongo and Perdita decide to use the "Twilight Bark" – activating the entire animal network in and around London to find and save their babies.

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.

Disney classic; The life of pets; Family; Action and Adventure; Crime-solving; Teamwork.

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 inferred and depicted violence in this movie including:

  • Violent theme: Cruella De Vil truly earns her name because she is as cruel and remorseless as the Devil himself: she wants to have the puppies killed – and is not short of ideas on how to kill them ("shoot them, drown them, poison them, bash them") – skinned, and then have their skins turned into a fur coat.
  • Cruella’s henchmen, Horace and Jasper, force their way into Roger and Anita's home, and violently push and ridicule the elderly maid.
  • Slapstick / Comedy violence: Horace and Jasper suffer a range of painful mishaps: they have things falling on their heads, crush into walls, fall into a fireplace, get kicked by a horse, bitten in the backside etc.
  • Horace and Jasper try to bash an escaping puppy with a crowbar. They also try to hit Pongo and Perdita.
  • In her blind rage, Cruella crashes her car into the van in which the puppies are hiding, nearly pushing it over a steep edge.

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:

  • Cruella De Vil is a creepy, mad and loud character, who yells a lot and laughs like a crazy person.

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.

  • Nothing further of concern.

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

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

  • Cruella is rarely seen without a cigarette in a holder, releasing massive clouds of green smoke.
  • Roger is frequently seen smoking a pipe. In a stressful situation he is seen frantically sucking on his pipe, suggesting that smoking is a coping strategy.
  • Horace and Jasper are seen drinking wine straight from a bottle.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Cruella frequently says "Idiot/s".

In a nutshell

One Hundred and One Dalmatians is one of Disney's animated classics from 1961. Nearly 60 years after the film's first release, its four-legged heroes are as adorable and their adventures as captivating as ever. There is also a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek humour which will provide for fun family entertainment. Frequent references to animal cruelty, slapstick / comedy violence, and one of Disney's scariest and most iconic villains makes this film unsuitable for children under 4 and warrants parental guidance for children aged 4-5 and/or a sensitive audience.

The main messages from this movie are that sometimes in life it is important to take initiative, and that you can achieve more as part of a team and together with friends.

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

  • Family cohesion
  • Teamwork
  • Taking initiative
  • Being inventive and smart
  • Courage.

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

  • Is it ever ethical or justified to kill animals purely for fashion?

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