Ricki and the Flash

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Not recommended under 12; parental guidance recommended 12 to 15 (Themes; Drug use; Sexual references; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ricki and the Flash
  • a review of Ricki and the Flash completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 September 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to themes including suicide; drug use; sexual references and coarse language
Children aged 12 to 14 Parental guidance recommended due to themes including suicide; drug use; sexual references and coarse language
Children 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: Ricki and the Flash
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, drug use, sexual references and coarse language
Length: 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ricki (Meryl Streep) is a middle aged woman who left her family to become a rock star. When her daughter Julie’s (Mamie Gummer) marriage ends badly Ricki is asked to return home to help her daughter grieve. Upon returning home, Ricki discovers that her children hate her for leaving and no longer want her involved in their lives. The members of the family must come to terms with the lives they have chosen to live, and learn to forgive and accept each other.


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.

Mental illness and suicide; family relationships and breakdown; drugs; sexual identity; financial hardship

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 are some heated arguments, particularly between family members

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:

  • Julie tried to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills. This is not shown, but the characters talk about her suicide attempt. Julie is struggling a lot, she walks around in her pyjamas and messy hair, and her father mentions that she doesn’t eat. Julie’s struggle may be confronting and disturbing for children.
  • There are several heated arguments between the characters which may be scary for children.
  • Ricki mentions that her brother died in the army.
  • Ricki’s band plays loud rock music which may frighten young children

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 are also likely to be affected 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.

Children in this age group are also likely to be affected by some of the above mentioned scenes

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.

Younger children in this age group may be concerned by Julie’s suicide attempt

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Jet Blue airlines
  • Sony
  • Gibson Guitars

Sexual references

There are some sexual references and innuendo in this movie, including:

  • Some of the songs that Ricki sings include sexual references
  • Many of the characters have had sexual affairs with other people
  • Ricki’s son Adam declares that he is gay and likes men
  • Ricki talks about her pubic hair going grey
  • Ricki asks Pete if he wants to touch her
  • One of the characters talks about having sex with a stripper

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Ricki and Greg are shown heavily kissing and taking off their clothes. It is implied that they had sex. The next morning they are shown in bed together.
  • Ricki is shown in nothing but a towel 

Use of substances

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

  • Drinking is frequently shown throughout the movie. Ricki plays music in a bar where people are drinking. Julie drinks to cope with her divorce and Ricki drinks to cope with her problems.
  • Ricki, Julie and Pete (Julie’s father) smoke pot together and get high.
  • Julie tried to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills. Julie’s therapist has given her drugs to take to help her get better.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fuck; asshole; shut up; shit; I don’t give a damn; psychotic bitch; crap

In a nutshell

Ricki and the Flash is an entertaining although clichéd film about the difficulties of family life and relationships. Meryl Streep is wonderful as the unconventional rock star mother who learns that if you work hard you can go some way towards fixing your mistakes. Parents may be concerned about references to drugs, suicide and sex, and the film’s coarse language which all seem quite strong for a film rated PG. For this reason, the film is not recommended for under 12s and parental guidance is recommended for 12 - 15 year olds.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include forgiveness and acceptance.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss mental health and suicide, and the importance of seeking help if you are struggling.