Australian Council on Children and the Media

Space Chimps

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 10 (Violence, disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Space Chimps
  • a review of Space Chimps completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 September 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 8-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children over the age of 10 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: Space Chimps
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may scare young children
Length 81 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ham III (voice of Andy Samberg) feels unable to live up to the legacy of his grandfather Ham I, the famous first chimp in space, and fritters his life away as a daredevil cannon ball in a circus act. However, his life is soon to change abruptly.
When a US space probe is sucked into a wormhole and lands on a planet on the other side of the universe, scientists and aeronautical experts decide to launch a mission to test whether a human could survive the force of the wormhole and to find out if there is life on the new planet. Unable to risk human lives on the mission, they use chimps instead. The Space Chimp program had long since been abandoned, but several chimps had been kept on ‘for show’. Luna (Cheryl Hines), Titan (Patrick Warburton), Comet (Zack Shada) and old Houston (Carlos Alazraqui) have been grooming themselves for a mission, learning far more than the scientists realized.
To inspire public confidence and to boost his approval ratings, the senator promoting the mission insists that a handsome hero-type go too, and preferably a descendant of Ham I. The reluctant Ham III is therefore carried off to join the Space Chimps and Comet and Houston are left behind.
Meanwhile, on planet Malgar, the cruel dictator Zartog (Jeff Daniels) has learned how to use the probe and has either enslaved all the inhabitants of that world, or has frozen them in fresnar a silvery lava in which only their eyes can move and from which, allegedly, they can never escape.
In space, Ham’s daredevil behaviour jeopardizes his fellow crew members numerous times, but once they land on the planet and encounter various hostile forces Ham’s crazy antics, with help from Comet and Houston on earth, repeatedly save them. 

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.

Space travel, aliens

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.

The movie contains slapstick violence and accidental harm with no death or injury shown, including

  • When Ham III is blasted out of a cannon during his circus act, he repeatedly misses the landing pad and crashes down into the band, generally falling on the drums. He is always unhurt.
  • Zartog throws open a door and crushes a butterfly that a group of child-like aliens are chasing. He then freezes it in fresnar, while the horrified aliens look on.
  • Ham tosses a banana peel while Titan is running on a treadmill and he slips and falls, ricocheting off the walls and exercise equipment as he tries to regain his footing.
  • Ham blasts into people while wearing his rocket pack. They duck and flee but he crashes into other things including a camera, a large screen and a rocket which triggers a domino effect of other blasting rockets which all eventually crash to the ground. Ultimately Ham runs out of gas and crashes through the stage.
  • Ham and Luna are greeted by an army of aliens throwing spears at them.
  • Ham and Luna are chased by flying stingray like creatures who blast darts from their bodies. Ham is hit in the bottom by a dart.
  • Zartog spends much of his time grabbing fellow aliens and freezing them in fresnar.
  • Zartog orders the aliens to dance or die. He freezes anyone who doesn’t dance the way he likes.
  • Zartog repeatedly threatens to freeze Titan if he doesn’t show him new things the space probe can do.
  • Ham must crash land their space craft back on earth and Luna is tossed off while trying to repair a wing. Ham finds her lying motionless on the runway.

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 a number of scary aliens such as the stingray like creatures which shoot spines and a giant slug-like creature with a giant mouth full of sharp teeth.
  • The Infinity space probe looks like a giant robot with large claws
  • Luna notices some pretty flowers and when she attempts to pick one as a sample all the flowers burst out of the ground and tower above the chimps with giant mouths trying to eat and attack them. The sequence is extremely menacing and unexpected and is likely to frighten younger children.
  • Ham and Luna swing through a jungle on vines in an attempt to escape from airborne attackers, until the vines turn into violent snake-like monsters.
  • Ham, Luna and Kilowatt (a child-like alien) are chased by a flesh devouring monster into a series of darkened tunnels where they must hide to survive. The scene is very tense, suspenseful and frightening.
  • Ham teaches Kilowatt to face her fear, as her head glows when she is frightened and the flesh eating monster can see the light. She attempts to overcome the fear by confronting the monster so that Luna and Ham can escape the cave. The monster swallows her whole and Ham and Luna are horrified. It is assumed that Kilowatt is dead, however, at the end of the film she reappears having escaped from the monster via its rectum.

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 may also be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above.

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.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the violent and scary scenes described above.

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.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • In response to a human’s comment that he is so cute, Ham says: “Yeah, I’m a hottie.”
  • Ham strikes a sexy pose for the camera, while Luna is trying to photograph the landscape and says in a sultry voice “I’ve been naughty.”
  • Ham asks Luna “Is that a banana in your pocket?”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Zartog organizes a female band and models them after human singers wearing short, clingy dresses
  • At one point, Ham attempts to put his arm around Luna, but Luna throws him off, telling him to stay on his own side of the planet.  

Use of substances

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

  • When Ham and Luna encounter Kilowatt, Ham repeatedly makes indications that she has been drinking while she describes what happened to her and to everyone in her village.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:
“kicked his butt’, “oh my lord”
name calling such as “dork”, “circus freak”, “jerk boy”, “poop-thrower”

In a nutshell

Space Chimps is an animated science fiction adventure aimed at children but full of chimpanzee puns, silly jokes and adult humour. The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself and to follow the right path but to do it your own way.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include creativity, tolerance, and justice.

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

  • forcing people to do things against their will
  • abusing positions of power
  • purposely trying to jump or crash in various positions. (Ham repeatedly and purposely misses his target when he crash-lands. He is never hurt or injured and no consequences are shown)

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