Portable Door, The

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Short takes

Not suitable under 11; parental guidance to 13 (violence, scary scenes, themes, language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Portable Door, The
  • a review of Portable Door, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 April 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes, themes and language.
Children aged 11-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and language.
Children aged 14 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: Portable Door, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes, violence and coarse language
Length: 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

When a series of unfortunate events makes Paul (Patrick Gibson) miss his interview at a coffee shop, he finds himself in a mysterious company being interviewed by a panel of board members for a job he knows nothing about. When Paul notices a map in the wallpaper of the boardroom, the interview ends abruptly and he is convinced that he will not get the desperately needed job. Much to his surprise, he is hired and asked to report to the offices of J. Wells and Co. the next morning. Paul finds himself sharing an office with Sophie (Sophie Wilde), a fast-tracked overachiever who wants nothing to do with him and who, incidentally, knows nothing about her job either. Before long, the CEO Humphrey Wells (Christopher Waltz) and his partner Dennis Tanner (Sam Neill) secretly task Paul with the imperative job of finding a missing portable door that doesn’t want to be found. Paul searches everywhere for the door and in the process begins to discover that the company is not what it appears to be, nor is everyone who they would have you believe. When Paul finally locates the door, he and Sophie use it for their own purposes, travelling the world, until the door takes Paul to a place he was never meant to see. Here Paul hears firsthand about Humphrey’s evil plot to steal the souls of everyone he can and he watches how Sophie has been used as their guinea pig. Before they can reclaim Sophie’s soul, Paul and Sophie are discovered and trapped within a realm of doors where they encounter Humphrey’s missing father (also played by Christopher Waltz), who disappeared without a trace many years before. Working together, they realise that if they can get Humphrey’s soul to the ‘Bank of the Dead’ then they will be able to free Sophie and control Humphrey but will any of the doors they are trapped behind ever let them out?


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.

The daily grind of corporate life; Corruption; Magic; The lust for Power and Greed.

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:

  • A man is pushed into a fountain by an invisible force.
  • Mr. Tanner warns Paul that Humphrey has a very violent temper and no patience for failure, and that when he (Paul) fails, he will be gutted, impaled, disembowelled, chopped, marinated, poached and peeled, among other torturous-sounding punishments.
  • Humphrey is said to have been an evil child who made his own father disappear.
  • Paul discovers that Humphrey is making people sign their souls over to him in the fine print of contracts he creates. Humphrey is able to influence Sophie and make her do things against her will and hopes to do this to the masses.
  • A character makes a threat saying: “You had better hope he is too busy to bother killing you”.
  • Humphrey turns random goblins into office supplies.
  • When Paul and Sophie discover Humphrey’s father, he tells the pair that there is no way out, that they will die and that he will be stuck with two decomposing corpses and nowhere to put them.
  • Paul and Sophie are attacked by goblins.
  • Balls of magical fire are blasted and thrown in every direction as Humphrey and his father attack each other.
  • Paul is thrown through the air; he hits the wall and lands unconscious.
  • Humphrey pins his father to the ground and is electrocuting him. Sophie is also immobilised on the ground and surrounded by electrical currents. Humphrey threatens Sophie and is slowly killing his father.

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:

  • There are numerous goblins in the film who look extremely creepy and disturbing. There are scenes where they come out of nowhere and one particularly dark scene where they appear to be feasting on something. They are startled, sinister looking and appear to be covered in blood. They quickly give chase, pursuing Sophie and Paul through dark tunnels where the couple appear to just escape with their lives.
  • What seems to be a stapler is actually a grotesque-looking goblin that suddenly appears and disappears. It gives Paul a jump-scare the first time he encounters the creature, down in the basement.
  • A board member encourages Paul to confide in her and while she speaks to him her hair begins to twist and turn, rising into snake-like tendrils that eerily spell out the word ‘Beware’.

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:

  • In a dream, Paul is tortured by one of the company executives. His foot is twisted backwards until it appears to break. Paul is screaming and terrified and the board member is angry, his face malicious, as he yells at Paul trying to get information out of him. When Paul doesn’t give him the answer he is looking for, Paul’s teeth fall out of his face and his ears begin to grow enormously. He is completely terrified throughout the encounter and mistrustful when he encounters the man at work.
  • When Paul and Sophie decide to disobey protocol and stay back past 5pm, they discover what appear to be creepy animals with glowing eyes in cages.

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 noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • It is mentioned that a mother had an affair with other men.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • An office worker makes kissy lips at Paul and saunters around him seductively.
  • A receptionist kisses and licks her stapler, saying how much she loves it.
  • A couple of goblins kiss very passionately.
  • Paul and Sophie share a kiss.

Use of substances

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

  • Paul repeatedly mentions a bar across the street from the office and awkwardly broaches the subject of “debrief drinks” and “after work drinks” with Sophie.
  • Paul and Sophie have beers in a pub.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shit
  • Lardy arse
  • Bloody
  • Damn
  • Hell
  • Git.

In a nutshell

The Portable Door is a fantasy adventure based on the book of the same name by Tom Holt. The characters are well cast, however, the plot is fairly predictable and, while it might appear to be a family film, this is not one for younger children. The film is best suited to tween and older audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that there is no such thing as coincidence; but also that if each person can truly believe in themselves and in their potential, they will yield tremendous power and can effect incredible change.

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

  • Determination
  • Trust
  • Ingenuity
  • Adventure
  • Loyalty.

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

  • Putting personal desires and greed before everything else.
  • Going to any lengths to get what you want.
  • Choosing to trust the wrong people.
  • Judging people based on first impressions.