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Not suitable under 8; not recommended under 10; parental guidance to 13 (themes and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spirited
  • a review of Spirited completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 December 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 8–9 Not recommended due to themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to 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. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Spirited
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild supernatural themes and coarse language
Length: 127 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Spirited is a modern version of the classic Dickens’ tale, A Christmas Carol, with a twist. ‘The Ghost of Christmas Present’, aka Roberto (Will Ferrell), is a redeemed Scrooge and it’s that time of the year when a new terrible person is chosen to be saved. Present goes for a ruthless businessmen, Clint Briggs (Ryan Reynolds), but the other ghosts consider him ‘irredeemable’. Present sees this as a personal challenge as he was also considered irredeemable.

‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’ (Sunita Mani) is the first to visit Clint but she finds herself strongly attracted to him and so passes the job on to Present. Present takes Clint on a harrowing journey of his past, during which his dying sister, Carrie (Andrea Anders), begs him to look after her daughter, Wren (Marlow Barkley) – Clint dodges the responsibility and passes it on to his younger brother. Meanwhile, Present finds himself attracted to Clint’s personal assistant, Kimberly (Octavia Spencer), and is given the option to return to Earth to relive his life. Together, Clint and Present confront ethical and moral problems about what makes a human being redeemable or not.


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.

Redemption; Supernatural.

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, mostly done for laughs, including:

  • Several characters get hit on the head and around the face.
  • Present says, “It’s enough to make you want to push an old lady down the stairs”.
  • Clint knocks a ghost down and falls down the stairs.
  • A ghost hits a policeman.
  • Clint and Present go flying up into the air and land heavily.
  • ‘The Ghost of Yet-to-Come’ lifts Clint up and throws him into the air.
  • Present is about to step in front of a bus when Clint pushes him out of the way. The ghosts come for Clint.

Other violence includes:

  • A boxing match is shown between two large men.
  • A hand grenade explodes, knocking down a wall. People are running from it and a man is seen on fire.
  • A young man commits suicide after being abused on social media. This isn’t actually shown but it is apparent.

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:

  • ‘The Ghost of Yet-to-Come’ is a particularly scary skeleton in a hooded cloak with long, bony fingers.
  • Marley appears, dragging chains that he’s attached to. His face is scarred and ugly, with sunken eyes.

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:

  • The movie starts in a graveyard with thunder and lightning and ‘The Ghost of Yet-to-Come’ is pointing at a young woman who’s weeping. She sinks into the ground.
  • Photos and objects start flying around the room and all the lights go out. Marley appears and Clint flies up to the ceiling. Marley then disappears through the floor and his chains rattle after him.

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:

  • In a flashback to when he was a child, Clint remembers a Christmas with his sister, Carrie. His mother, Wendy, who is drunk, teases him about having got him a puppy for Christmas – what he’s always wanted. She lied to him, however, and there was no puppy. He was very upset.
  • Carrie is seen in hospital with tubes coming out of her nose. She begs Clint to look after Wren but he doesn’t want the responsibility.
  • Present is shown in his past as Scrooge. His appearance is dishevelled, with long hair. He’s very mean and shouts at children.
  • Jacob, the head ghost, sends Clint back to Earth by pushing him into darkness.
  • In a sub-plot, Wren asks Clint for help to win the school presidency. He advises her to dig up dirt on her opponent Joshua, a seemingly nice young man. When Wren posts something not so nice about Joshua on social media, it goes viral. Joshua then gets messages on his phone saying he’s gross, he sucks and ‘cancel Joshua’. This pushes Joshua to commit suicide. A vigil is held with candles and his photo is shown. This is a particularly disturbing scene, addressing the consequences of thoughtless actions and words on social media. It seems rather out of place in a comedy movie.

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 more of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Amazon
  • Negroni
  • TikTok
  • Sephora.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Present longs for a loving embrace with ‘new-fangled mouth kisses’.
  • Past thinks Clint is ‘insanely hot’. She wishes his hands were all over her.
  • Clint flirts with Past who thinks he’s ‘really into her’.
  • Carrie decides to have a baby on her own through IVF.
  • Several couples kiss briefly.
  • Present and Kimberly hold hands and kiss.
  • Clint kisses Past.
  • Ghosts dance and ‘twerk’.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • Present is seen having a shower, naked from the waist up.

Use of substances

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

  • Drinking at several events, in pubs at parties, etc.
  • Clint’s mother is seen as a drunk – she always has a glass in her hand.

Coarse language

There is a lot of coarse language in this movie, including:

  • A scene from 19th century England suggests that saying “Good Afternoon” was as offensive as saying “f you” today. A whole song is sung about saying ‘good afternoon’ and offending people.
  • Damn
  • Screw up
  • Shit
  • What the f?
  • A hole
  • Bastard
  • Crap
  • What the Hell
  • Oh my God
  • Jesus
  • Shut up
  • Arse
  • Bitch
  • ‘Reencrapment’
  • Bullshit
  • Dicking around
  • Man piss
  • F you
  • Shite
  • Bloody
  • Kiss my dickens
  • Prick
  • Busting my balls
  • Shit whispering
  • FO
  • Holy shit
  • Gives a middle finger
  • Name calling such as:
    • Jerk
    • Walking plunger
    • Turd in a suit
    • Smarty pants
    • Shut your dumb face
    • Wankerous, cantankerous buffoon
    • Whore
    • Buttcrack.

In a nutshell

Spirited is a musical comedic version of Dickens’, A Christmas Carol. Some of the characters look very scary but it is all tongue-in-cheek, so the fright level is low. There is sexual innuendo, a lot of coarse language and a scene which refers to a teen taking his own life after being abused on social media. For these reasons the film is not suitable under 8, not recommended under 10 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 10–13.

The main messages from this movie are that one act of kindness can have a ripple effect; and that anyone can be redeemed.

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

  • Self-examination
  • Ability to become a better person
  • Compassion and kindness
  • Having the courage to stand up for what’s right.

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

  • You’re never too old (or young) to change from being a horrible person.
  • This movie would be a good opportunity for parents to discuss the dangers of social media and the dreadful consequences of making flippant and hurtful remarks about others.