Slumberland

image for Slumberland

Short takes

Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 13 (violence, themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Slumberland
  • a review of Slumberland completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 November 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 9–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
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.

Name of movie: Slumberland
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence, themes, fantasy themes, scary scenes
Length: 120 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Nemo (Marlow Barkley) lives in a lighthouse with her father (Kyle Chandler) on a remote, rocky outpost in the middle of the sea. She knows everything there is to know about sailing, lighthouses and life on the ocean. Every night her devoted dad tells her stories about the adventures he used to have with his roguish partner, Flip (Jason Momoa), until one night he sets out on a rescue mission and never returns. Suddenly orphaned, Nemo is sent to live with her Uncle Philip (Chris O’Dowd), a boring man she had never met, who sells doorknobs and lives alone. Each night, fighting off unbearable grief, Nemo finds herself in ‘Slumberland’. It is here that she encounters Flip and learns of a secret map that will lead her to magical pearls, capable of granting the bearer any wish they may desire. Wanting nothing more than to see her father again, Nemo convinces Flip to take her with him to the Sea of Nightmares, where the pearls are rumoured to be hidden. Together they must navigate a universe of dreams, each more dangerous than the last, all the while trying to avoid Agent Green (Weruche Opia) who has been trying to apprehend Flip for years; and trying to outrun a nightmare that smells fear and seems determined to find Nemo wherever she may be.

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; Death of a parent; Separation from family; Orphaned; Loss of identity; Grief/Loss; Nightmares; Monsters; Illegal activities; Bullying; Isolation; Risk-taking behaviour.

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:

  • Flip ransacks the lighthouse and goes through all of Nemo’s father’s things. He then shoves Nemo out of a high window, telling her to, “Wake up”.
  • To dissuade Nemo from coming with him, Flip tells Nemo that she can die in someone else’s dream and that if that happens she will never see the waking world again.
  • Flip kicks Nemo out of the way.
  • Agent Green shoots at Flip and attaches a cord to his leg. She tries to pull him away from the truck that Nemo is hiding in. Flip is able to free himself when she swerves to the side and countless buildings crumble behind him, crushing her car. She drives out of the debris as the car repairs itself. The truck smashes into the sides of buildings and scrapes under overpasses while Flip and Nemo try to hold on and not get killed in the process. Agent Green eventually shoots out one of the truck’s tyres causing them to swerve off the dock and plummet into the water.
  • Agent Green shoots Flip and Nemo, freezing them in mid-air.
  • Nemo roughly shoves Flip back and forth and makes him knock over some cabinets.
  • A frustrated Flip pushes Nemo to the floor by the head in the Butterfly Dream so that she can dance.
  • Agent Green punches Flip in the face.
  • Nemo shoots Agent Green with her freeze gun. While she is frozen, Flip knocks her into the sides of an elevator and catches her head in the door.
  • Flip throws snowballs at Agent Green.
  • Nemo is hit on the head by the boom of a sailing boat and knocked unconscious.
  • A plane swoops at Flip and knocks him to the ground, where he must quickly crawl away so that he isn’t crushed.
  • Flip punches a man in the face.

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:

  • Nemo’s dad tells her a bedtime story about dreadful monsters that live in the Sea of Nightmares and about a dead place at the bottom of the ocean filled with the bones of sea creatures. While he describes these things, Nemo sees them take shape in her room. A giant, squid-like monster begins to materialise out of black smoke, it’s huge, inky tentacles reaching out to ensnare Nemo.
  • Nemo’s bed comes to life one night. It wakes her up as its legs grow long and spindly. It kicks out the window of the high-rise apartment and carries Nemo down to the street while she screams and begs it to stop, trying to grab on to anything she can. The bed races out into traffic while Nemo clings, terrified, to the mattress. It transports her over the water and back to her lighthouse. Nemo calms down during this part of her journey but the beginning of the scene is scary and intense.
  • In one dream, people are made out of thousands of butterflies. Everything is bright and beautiful, and suddenly sad music starts playing on the piano and everything starts to go dark. Agent Green points a strange-looking gun at Flip and Nemo while a nightmare smoke monster grows in the background, quickly causing panic and chaos as the dream disintegrates and it reaches out its tentacles towards Nemo. Flip slides her out of the way and together they run screaming through doors as the nightmare monster tries to pursue them.
  • Nemo finds her dad’s damaged boat at the bottom of the ocean but first she has to walk through the creepy carcass of a sea monster in order to find it. While she searches the boat and finds the legendary pearls, the nightmare monster is growing behind her, slowly making its menacing way through the carcass of the same sea monster she had to pass. Nemo is holding the pearls in her hand as the smoky, nightmare monster looms over her. Flip flies a plane into the monster just in time to save her and together they speed off through Slumberland while the monster pursues them and then attaches itself to the back of the plane and tries to take it down. Nemo and Flip are screaming in terror as they plummet toward the mountains. Their plane crashes into a giant flying goose and the man who is riding it, causing the goose to crash and the man to wake up. The plane crashes into a bathroom and the relentless nightmare monster yanks it out the door and continues to pursue Nemo and Flip. Other dreamers wake up in terror and disappear from Slumberland as the nightmare continues to chase them through different dreams, back to the Lighthouse. The nightmare monster catches Flip just as they are about to reach the final door and Nemo uses her wish to wake him up. She stares down the monster, then it blasts through her and disappears.
  • Some of the characters, especially the nightmare shadow, look scary and intimidating. There are numerous shots of the shadow chasing the other characters and threatening them. Nemo and Flip are continually running for their lives, away from the shadow, and towards the end of the movie the shadow actually captures Flip. These scenes are intense and loud, coupled with the scary characters, and are likely to disturb many young children.
  • The character of Flip can sometimes be aggressive and some young children are likely to find him scary or intimidating.

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:

  • Nemo wakes up to find ice freezing the inside of her lighthouse and quickly covering all surfaces, both inside and out. A terrible storm rages outside, sending waves crashing onto the island. Nemo is swept into the churning waters as the lighthouse is hit by a massive wave and crumbles into the water below. She is sucked into a whirlpool while she screams for help. Nemo’s father tries to fight his way through the water to her but he is snatched away by the black, smoky monster. She awakens in the morning to learn that her father has been lost at sea. Nemo is devastated.
  • The nightmare monster tries to attack Nemo when she and Flip are trapped underwater in a car.
  • Nemo is pulled, unconscious, from the sea by her Uncle Philip. A group of rescuers try to do CPR on her as she remains unresponsive and Philip is in agony, fearing that he will lose his niece before he has really even begun to know her. Eventually Nemo begins to cough and regains consciousness.
  • Early in the movie, Nemo’s dad goes out to sea in bad weather. He dies at sea and Nemo must attend his funeral and try and deal with her grief. Having become an orphan, she is sent to live with her uncle, whom she has never met. These scenes might disturb young children.
  • Nemo dreaming about the dangerous weather and waves knocking down the lighthouse and sweeping Nemo away might be scary to young children as they are events that could occur from wild weather.

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:

  • Throughout the movie there are many scenes or links to the threat of drowning. No characters die from drowning but as this is a realistic threat, young children might find this frightening or disturbing.

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 further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Flip is attacking a Twinkie vending machine, trying to dislodge the snacks.
  • Nemo’s stuffed pig eats a Twinkie.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Flip’s “raw, masculine, power” is noted on a couple of occasions.
  • A sexy dancer, who is really a nun, tells Flip that she, “smells his musk”.
  • Flip suggests he might go to a bar and find someone’s “ex”, as there are lots of them in Slumberland.
  • Flip says that he has everything that he wants: wine, women and waffles.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • There is a sexy, dancing girl wearing a tightly fitted, low-cut bodice with a stringy skirt that flies up every time she twirls around. She and Flip flirt and dance.
  • Philip flirts with an educator from Nemo’s school.

Use of substances

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

  • Flip says that he is going to go find a dream with a bar in it and then he will drink until he can’t remember who he is anymore.
  • The End of the Line Bar is shown. It is assumed that Flip was inside drinking (though this is not shown) and martinis are clearly visible on the sign.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Loser
  • Punk
  • Smart aleck kid
  • What the flip?
  • Damn it
  • Damn
  • Sassy Cindy
  • Pathetic, little, man baby
  • Frickin nightmare
  • Pain in the aaa.... applesauce.

In a nutshell

Slumberland is a fantasy adventure, full of twists and turns. The film, which is based on an early 20th century comic strip, largely takes place in the ‘sleep state’ and gives the impression that dreams are sent to guide and help us, even when it doesn’t seem that way. While not for younger children, this film is likely to appeal to families with tweens and younger teens.

The main messages from this movie are that being brave isn’t about not being scared, it is about doing what you have to do even when you are afraid; that you must not let grief or death change who you are or rob you of living your life; and that you should not forget how to dream, and never lose your sense of wonder.

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

  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Love
  • Resourcefulness
  • Determination
  • Helpfulness.

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

  • Going off on your own, specifically onto the water, and not telling anyone where you are headed.
  • Skipping school.
  • Lying to those you love.
  • Deceiving those in authority.
  • Living a life of crime and forgetting who you are.
  • Letting hurt feelings fester and destroy relationships.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of:

  • Supporting others when they are grieving
  • Following rules
  • Safe driving
  • Sticking with your friends
  • The realness of dreams.