School for Good and Evil, The

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Short takes

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

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for School for Good and Evil, The
  • a review of School for Good and Evil, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 November 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children aged 11–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 13 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: School for Good and Evil, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature Themes, Blood and Gore, Violence, Fantasy Themes, Scary Scenes
Length: 148 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In a fairy tale world of magic, two brothers begin a school for good and evil where they coexist peacefully until one brother, tired of sharing power, uses the dark forces of blood magic to try and kill the other. In the end, having seemingly won the fight, the ‘good’ brother, the headmaster (Laurence Fishburne), sits aloft in his tower, appearing to have little to do with the everyday running of the school. These tasks he leaves to Lady Lesso (Charlize Theron), the Dean of The School Evil, and Professor Dovey (Kerry Washington), the Dean for The School of Good. Meanwhile in the village of Gavaldon, two girls, outcasts from a young age, have developed a powerful friendship. Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso), who lost her mother when she was small, is forced by her stepmother to slave away doing all sorts of menial tasks. Sophie endures patiently and seems to embody kindness itself but all she really wants is to become a princess. At the same time, her best friend Agatha (Sofia Wylie) is relentlessly bullied and tormented by the townspeople who accuse her of being a witch. When Sophie learns the legend of ‘The School for Good and Evil’ and then discovers she will be forced to work in a factory, she hatches a plan to escape the town, find the school and train to be a princess. Agatha tries to convince her to stay but ultimately won’t let her go alone. When both girls are taken, Sophie is dropped at The School for Evil and Agatha at the School for Good. Both girls maintain that there has been a terrible mistake; that Sophie has been dropped in the wrong school; and that Agatha just needs to go home. Stuck where they are, the girls try to show the school where it went wrong and that Sophie is truly a princess, capable of having a prince fall in love with her. The headmaster, however, has other plans and the school is in far more danger than anyone could ever imagine.


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.

Good versus Evil; Vanity; The corrupting influences of power and greed; Bullying; Magic; Injustice.

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:

  • Two brothers' sword fight, pushing each other and blasting each other with brute strength and magical power.
  • One brother looks like his hand has been chopped off but flames fly from it and later blood swirls around him as a sinister force, ready to obey his every command.
  • One brother tries to stab the other in the head with a dagger. He shoots him backwards, leaving a sizzling, fiery wound on his chest and they both plummet off a cliff.
  • A boy throws a tomato at Sophie, hitting her in the chest.
  • A man threatens Agatha, trapping her in an alleyway, calling her a witch and describing how witches are burned at the stake. He threatens her with a knife and Sophie hits him over the head with a frying pan.
  • Agatha smashes a fairy against a stone. The fairy bites her finger and then a group of them drag Agatha forcibly into a castle while she struggles against them.
  • Twenty boys sword fight against one champion, there is additional punching, slicing, flipping and kicking until only the champion remains standing.
  • One boy fights against a Cyclops who is intent on destroying him. The two struggle until the Cyclops is defeated and burned by his own flaming weapon.
  • A girl grabs Sophie and pushes her back over a balcony, ready to plunge her over the side. She threatens her with a knife and tries to chop off her hair before Sophie turns the tables, fighting back and pushing the girl to the edge of the balcony instead.
  • Sophie has her face shoved into a potion filled with attacking tadpoles.
  • Vicious flowers attack the end of a spear and look as though they are going to attack other people.
  • Students are told of a grisly pumpkin patch that is safe by day but a horror land by night, where reapers will hunt you down, drink your blood and sell your limbs for spoils.
  • A character falls and rolls down a hill, knocking everyone over as he goes.
  • A pansy bites a boy on the leg.
  • Agatha punches a boy in the face and then shoves him backwards.
  • Sophie is dragged away by a wolf-man for talking to a student from The School for Good.
  • Lady Lesso takes Sophie to a room filled with torture equipment. Sophie begs her not to hurt her but Lady Lesso takes a blade, holds it to Sophie’s face and uses it to chop off her hair.
  • Students line up to have their fingers pierced by a sharp object, said to release their power. Some students have their fingers simply poked while others have their fingers completely impaled, with the point going straight through and coming out the other side.
  • Sophie streams blood magic through her fingers towards the group of guys brandishing swords at her. The swords glow red hot before the boys drop them to the ground.
  • Two girls shove each other, which starts an all-out brawl in a cafeteria.
  • Sophie yanks out a tooth and chucks it on a table.
  • Sophie conjures a fire to battle the group ready to attack The School of Evil.
  • The good side shoots arrows at Sophie which she turns into flowers before they can hit her.
  • Sophie puts two axes to a boy’s throat and burns him and others while they writhe in pain and smoke rises around them. The boys collapse on the floor and arise looking dark and evil.
  • Students from both schools fight each other, sword fighting, hurling fire balls, pushing, punching and shoving each other or conjuring magic to attack on their behalf.
  • Balls, which burst into flame, are thrown or kicked into people, Sophie’s blood magic knocks people to the ground. A boy is knocked unconscious and others burst into flame. Sophie entangles Agatha in ropes of blood magic, then threatens her and throws her out the door.
  • One brother stabs the other in the back.
  • An evil plan shows students being crushed to death by falling rocks as the school begins to crumble and fall apart.
  • A sharp, metal quill impales Sophie in the chest as Agatha rushes to her side.
  • A student is attacked in the headmaster’s tower, thrown across the room and pinned to a wall while he struggles to free himself and a man threatens to kills him with a dagger.
  • Agatha uses a sword to slice a man through the chest. Blood flows out all around him and he bursts into black pieces.

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:

  • A story is told about a girl who is taken from her village under a blood red sky. There is a sinister, smoky face with glowing red eyes that appears in her window one night. She gets out of bed looking terrified and a smoke monster grabs her from her home and drags her out the door and through the forest while she screams in protest and terror. She was never heard from again. The same creepy, smoky, face with glowing eyes pops up now and again throughout the first part of the film.
  • Agatha runs from a cupid statue who transforms from stone to flesh and then into a towering, angry, armed monster who repeatedly tries to shoot her with arrows as she flees. Agatha bursts through a glass window and hides in a library to escape. It is here that she comes face to face with flowing blood that swirls and collects itself into the form a man who threatens her and admonishes her to stay away from Sophie.
  • A boy screams in agony as dark clouds swirl around him and lightning strikes from all sides. He calls out to Agatha to help him and disappears in a swirl of darkness and dust, while a horrified Agatha looks helplessly on.
  • Sophie’s eyes glow red as blood magic appears to stream from her fingers.
  • Sophie transforms all the teachers into dolls, where they can be seen frozen in terror while their screaming voices echo from far away.

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:

  • Sophie and Agatha stand together in a darkened forest when the smoke monster with glowing eyes comes again. It targets Sophie, grabs her and drags her away through the forest while Agatha chases them, grabs Sophie and holds on till the monster disappears.
  • A huge, winged beast grabs both girls, one in each talon, and flies away with them as they scream. Agatha is terrified and the music is intense.
  • A demonic, dragon-like, creature crawls out of a girls tattoo and bursts into flame before attempting to attack Sophie. Sophie screams and ducks as the creature swoops her and girls around her laugh. She smacks the creature down but it continues to attack more ferociously than ever. Sophie screams for help while the girl with the tattoo threatens to end her life. Sophie is able to summon her powers and call a swarm of bees to her side. The bees immediately set upon the dragon, surrounding it, stinging it and simultaneously stinging the girl who conjured the creature to begin with. Sophie is told she must not kill anyone until after graduation and calls off the bees, momentarily horrified by the damage she has done. Before the bees disappear they take the creepy form of the evil brother to commend Sophie on the use of her powers.
  • A huge skeletal bird bursts from a tree and flies across a lake to land at Agatha’s feet. She is initially terrified and tries to scurry away as it advances menacingly towards her. She soon realises that it is a friend and, as she offers to try to help him regain his human form, another character throws a magical sword through its chest causing the creature to explode and its bones to fly in every direction.
  • Sophie dies in Agatha’s arms after being impaled in the chest in an effort to save Agatha’s life. Agatha is sobbing over Sophie’s lifeless body when her tears, falling onto the blood stained dress, seem to bring her friend back to life.

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:

  • Sophie is alone in a darkened forest looking for her true love. She wanders into a field of vicious, biting flowers and is screaming for help. She flees the flowers only to find herself in a pumpkin patch with the reaper. A scarecrow with a pumpkin head, glowing eyes, a scythe and a maniacal evil laugh chases her through the dark forest, attempting to kill her. Agatha secretly saves Sophie and helps her find the boy she is searching for but then the reaper comes to attack him instead, shoving him backwards, crawling along the ground and slicing at him while he tries to defend himself from the relentless attack. The reaper is attempting to crush the boy's skull when Agatha secures a sword and, in a team effort, the reaper is beheaded.

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

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Sophie kisses a couple of characters.
  • Agatha kisses a boy.

Use of substances

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

  • A character drinks from a flask and appears to be drunk.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shit
  • Ass
  • Freak
  • Weirdo
  • Raving lunatic
  • Troll
  • Ugly
  • Prig
  • Pig
  • Damn it
  • Hell
  • Heck
  • Holy sh...
  • Son of a b...
  • Demon
  • Witch
  • Shut up
  • Hag.

In a nutshell

The School for Good and Evil is a fantasy adventure based on the book series by Soman Chainani. The film is well cast and features numerous special effects. Due to the number and nature of scary scenes and violence, this is not a film for younger viewers but rather one that will be best enjoyed by families with older children as well as fans of the books.

The main messages from this movie are that true goodness lies in caring for others; that real power lies in being true to yourself and not being swayed by the opinions or actions of other people; that the best stories need both heroes and villains; and that we all have the ability to write our own tale and, ultimately, to become the stuff of legends.

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

  • Friendship
  • Unity
  • Kindness
  • Helpfulness
  • Courage
  • Forbearance.

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

  • Blindly believing all that you are told.
  • Seeking power at the expense of friendship and love.
  • The forced segregation of groups.
  • Using violence as a means to solve conflict.
  • Forgetting what it means to truly be good and just outwardly appearing to be so.