Australian Council on Children and the Media

Peter Rabbit

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Not recommended under 7, parental guidance recommended 7 to 12, due to scary and violent scenes which include behaviour that might be imitated by children

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Peter Rabbit
  • a review of Peter Rabbit completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 March 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Not recommended due to scary and violent scenes which include behaviour that might be imitated by children
Children aged 7 to 12 Parental guidance recommended due to scary and violent scenes which include behaviour that might be imitated by children
Children aged 12 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: Peter Rabbit
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) and his family Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley), and Benjamin (Colin Moody) spend the days stealing vegetables from Mr McGregor’s (Sam Neill) garden and having fun with their neighbour Bea (Rose Byrne). But one day a new, younger, Mr McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) moves into town and throws the rabbits’ lives into chaos. Peter and his family must use their resourcefulness to fight for the garden and for Bea’s affections.  

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, crime, cruelty to animals; allergies and anaphylaxis

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:

  • There is a running joke in the movie, that the animals are always ‘accidentally’ hurting the birds (i.e. running into them, falling on top of them, hitting them when they meant to hit someone else etc.)
  • The movie begins with a scary looking fox chasing Peter to try and eat him. However, later they become friends.
  • Throughout the movie both the McGregors try to kill Peter and his friends in various ways (i.e. through traps, attacking them with rakes, electric fences, bombs). Peter and his friends retaliate and try to kill the McGregors as well.
  • Peter tries to kill the young McGregor by attacking him with berries to which he is severely allergic. McGregor starts to go into anaphylactic shock and has to use an EpiPen.  

 

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:

  • Peter and the other rabbits call Old Mr. McGregor evil. Both the McGregors may be a bit scary to young children as they are frequently trying to catch and kill the rabbits.
  • One of the rabbits says that if his foot gets stuck in a trap he will just chew it off.
  • Peter explains that both his parents are dead and that Mr McGregor killed his dad and put him in a pie. Peter is very upset about this.
  • Old Mr. McGregor has a heart attack and collapses in the garden. Peter pokes his eye to make sure that he is dead.  
  • McGregor blows up the rabbits’ home with all of their memories of their parents. The tree then falls on Bea’s house and destroys her paintings. Both Bea and Peter are very sad.
  • One of the rabbits looks as if she was hit by the explosion and is about to die, but it turns out that she is fine.

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 may also be scared or 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.

Younger children in this group may be scared or disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes but there is mostly nothing of concern

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 of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern in the movie, but plenty of associated merchandise

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Young Mr. McGregor and Bea flirt with each other throughout the movie and eventually kiss and fall in love.
  • A rooster expresses regret for “fertilizing all those eggs”.  
  • The rabbits joke that Benjamin’s jacket buttons look like nipples.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mention of nudity in this movie, including:

  • The fox runs through the house without clothes on and someone yells “Streaker!”   The joke is that the fox always looks like that.
  • Peter pulls down McGregor’s pants, and suggests sticking a carrot in his bottom(his bare buttocks are only partially seen)

Use of substances

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

  • The animals have a raging party in the McGregor house. Peter is shown eating a carrot that gives him the effects of being ‘high’. The fox wakes up hungover.
  • The animals are shown drinking out of martini and wine glasses – though it is not explicit what they are drinking.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language that children might imitate, including:

  • halfwit
  • imbecile
  • idiot
  • stupid
  • butt
  • country bumpkin

In a nutshell

Peter Rabbit is a beautifully made film based on the books of Beatrix Potter. However, the film is a comedy action adventure that is very different in tone from the kind and friendly books. There is a lot of violence in this version of the story and Peter and his siblings are not great role models for children. Bea, however, is kind and thoughtful and she also stands up for her beliefs.

The film is not recommended for children under the age of 7 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 7-12. This is because of the scary and violent elements of the film and the scenes of inappropriate behaviour.  The scene in which the rabbits attack someone with berries to which he is severely allergic is particularly concerning, as is Peter’s stated belief that people claim to have allergies that they don’t actually have. This is an issue to discuss with children.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Sharing love is not losing love. A parent’s love is infinite and if they love someone else it doesn’t mean they love you any less. 
  • Remember to think about others, not just yourself.

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

  • Forgiveness and kindness
  • Owning up to, and apologising for, your mistakes
  • The importance of family

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children whether it was okay that Peter Rabbit was stealing vegetables because as Bea explains “the wildlife belongs to the animals – it was their place first”. Is the position of rabbits different in Australia where they are an introduced species?

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