Queen Bees

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Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15 (adult themes, drug use, sexual references, lack of interest for younger viewers)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Queen Bees
  • a review of Queen Bees completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 February 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to adult themes, drug use, and sexual references.
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, drug use, sexual references, and lack of interest for younger viewers.
Children over the age of 15 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: Queen Bees
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild coarse language, drug use and sexual references
Length: 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Helen Wilson (Ellen Burstyn) is a fiercely independent widow who is determined to remain in her own home, despite her daughter Laura’s (Elizabeth Mitchell) best efforts to put her into a senior’s home. Helen is in the early stages of dementia and repeatedly locks herself out of her house. On one occasion, Helen leaves a pan on the stove which starts a fire in the kitchen. Helen reluctantly agrees, therefore, to go into the home while her house is being repaired.

Once in the senior’s home, Helen encounters a group of mean women, generally known as the ‘Queen Bees’. Janet (Jane Curtin) is the leader of the group and a particularly embittered, unfriendly person. Sally (Loretta Devine) is quite gregarious, however, and is keen to befriend Helen, much to Janet’s dislike. Helen is a fearless person and is quite a match for the unlikeable Janet and she soon becomes accepted into the group. While at the home, Helen also meets Dan (James Caan), a widower who becomes quite enamoured with her. However, things are not all as they seem and Helen encounters a wide range of grief and happiness during her stay.


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.

Ageing; Death and dying; Romance.

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:

  • Helen and Laura argue heatedly on several occasions.
  • Laura argues with her son, Peter.
  • A bikie steals Helen’s purse and the women chase after him. Sally kicks him ‘where it hurts’.
  • Janet threatens to, “rip someone’s throat out”.

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:

  • Nothing particularly scary for this age group.

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:

  • Helen’s house catches on fire.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • One of the characters has a heart attack and dies.
  • Another character collapses with a stroke and is seen in hospital.
  • One of the men at the home has dementia and his room is full of sticky notes to help him remember simple things.

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 further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple laptop.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Talk about a man being a wonderful lover but he needs Viagra.
  • One of the women says she sleeps with a male resident 3 nights a week. She thinks she has to share him with other women.
  • Sally complains about her sweaty ‘underboobs’ and how she has to clean them.
  • One of the women’s five husbands left her for a man.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • No actual nudity but the aqua-aerobics class is taught by a young man wearing only brief swimmers. At one time he strips off down to his underwear, playing strip poker with the women.

Use of substances

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

  • Helen and Sally share a joint and behave in a silly way.
  • Drinking at home and at a party.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Arse
  • Oh my God
  • Bitch
  • Crap
  • Butt
  • Damn
  • Screwing around
  • Arsehole.

In a nutshell

Queen Bees is a romantic comedy about ageing while still enjoying life. The film is funny and serious at the same time, without being overly sentimental, and likely to appeal to a more mature audience. It is not suitable for children under 13 years, and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 13 to 15 due to adult themes and content.

The main messages from this movie are you’re never too old to fall in love and equally you’re never too old to make changes to your life.

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

  • Independence
  • Resilience
  • Kindness
  • Acceptance and inclusivity.

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

  • Why was Janet such a mean-spirited woman? Her own family had disowned her but was that because she was so unlikeable or was she unlikeable because they had done so?