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Short takes

Not suitable under 8; not recommended 8-13; parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Themes; Violence; Disturbing scenes; Sexual references; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spud
  • a review of Spud completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 April 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to themes, violence, disturbing scenes, sexual references and coarse language
Children aged 8 -13 Not recommended due to themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and sexual references

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: Spud
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and sexual references
Length: 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film Spud is set in South Africa in 1990 during the time of political change when Nelson Mandela has just been released from prison. Thirteen-year-old schoolboy John Milton (Troye Sivan) is cursed with parents who are a teenage boy’s worst nightmare. His father is a paranoid fervent anti-communist, while his mother manages to routinely embarrass him without trying. After winning a scholarship John escapes his nutty parents and commences his first year at an elite private boarding school.

John desperately wants to fit in with the other boys, who have given each other nicknames such as Rambo, Rain Man, Mad Dog, Fatty and Boggo. Unfortunately John is sexually underdeveloped and when this lack of sexual maturity is noticed by the other boys, he is ostracised and given the nickname “Spud”, a reference to his underdeveloped genitals.

Regardless of the ridicule Johnperseveres and develops a friendship with an accident prone misfit called Henry Barker (Jamie Royal) nicknamed Gecko. Johnalso forms a friendship with the school’s English teacher Mr Edly (John Cleese) nicknamed “the Gov”, who becomes a type of mentor.Slowly gaining acceptance,John becomes a lead player in the school’s production of Oliver Twist. He also finds himself romantically entwined with two girls, Debbie (Genna Blair) and Amanda (Charbi Dean Kriek) which adds to an already complex year.


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.

School bullying; alcohol abuse; serious illness and death

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:

  • A young boy falls over, another boy shouts, “Pile on”and about a dozen boys jump on top of the fallen boy. When the boys get up the fallen boy is left lying on the ground and appears unconscious.
  • A group of boys pick up a young boy, Gecko, and carry him to the toilets. They upend him so that his head is in the toilet bowl and then flush the toilet leaving him coughing and spluttering.
  • A group of boys pick up Spud and carry him to the toilets where they pin him down, pull down his pants and smear shoe polish over his genitals.We do not see the shoe polish actually being applied, but the intent is clear.
  • A group of boys pour flammable liquid onto another student and then set it on fire. Other students tip a bucket of water on the flaming student putting out the fire; the boy appears uninjured.     
  • We see one boy rush another boy the first boy pinning the second against a wall with his forearm across the boy’s neck.
  • During a pillow-fight we hear the sound of glass being broken and see a shard of glass sticking out of the side of Gecko’s forehead; we see blood running down the side of Gecko’s forehead.
  • A teacher tells the boys that he will be giving each of them “six of the best”. The boys line up to be caned and we see Spud bending over a table waiting to be caned. We see the teacher raise the cane, hear the sound of it striking and see Spud screw up his face in agony as he is caned.

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 eight, including the following:

Spud’s father’s arm and upper body become engulfed in flames while he is attempting to light a barbecue. He jumps into the pool to extinguish the flames and is uninjured.

Gecko wakes up in the night with blood running out of his ears. A group of boys carry Gecko to the school hospital and hear that Gecko has cerebral malaria. Later, in an emotional scene, Spud is told that Gecko died in hospital and we see Spud emotionally upset and crying when he learns of Gecko’s fate. Later we seeGecko’s coffin being carried into the school chapel.

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 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 may also be disturbed 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 also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.    

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains sexual references and innuendo scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • We hear a school boy referred to as a “full on sex maniac” who buys porn magazines.
  • We hear a school boy say “Spud couldn’t wank if he had tweezers and a magnifying glass”.
  • A school teacher referring to lesbians as “sex craved carpet munchers”, who should be given a “golly good rogering”.
  • A teacher makes the comment “As porous as a whore’s dress”.
  • When an all girls from a private all girls school are invited to Spud’s school for a dance, the boys place bets on how far each boy will get with one of the girls - five dollars if they squeeze a girl’s breast, and ten dollars if they touch her “holy of holiests.”  At one point we see a boy waving a girl’s bra above his head.
  • In relation to Spud’s girlfriend Debbie, we hear Spud’s senile grandmother make the comment “...get this slut knocked up the wrong way”. Later in relation to Debbie’s breasts we hear the grandmother say “good pair of knockers there. Use them wisely”.
  • A teacher uses the expression “Tight as a nun’s fanny”.  
  • We hear a teacher refer to teen girls form an all girls private school as “slappers” and “saucy meat”.  
  • We hear that the school’s house videos had been replaced by lesbian porn.
  • In relation to Debbie, we hear Spud say “She touched me with her breasts and my willie went all weird”.

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • In several scenes we see a woman with large breasts wearing low-cut tops.
  • Spud holds hands with Debbie in a couple of scenes and one scene depicts Spud and Debbie passionately kissing each other.
  • In one scene we see a school girl passionately kissing Spud on the mouth and then licking his face with her tongue. We also see the same girl kissing a number of other boys. 
  • Spud sees a student straightening his clothes as he walks out of a school change room and the boy threatens Spud to keep his mouth shut. We then see Eve, a teacher’s wife walking out of the same room, also straightening her clothes. Later we hear that, with the exception of her husband, the entire school ended up finding out about the affair.
  • We see a dream-like image of two teen girls about to kiss each other; we do not see them kiss. We see a dream image of Debbie eight months pregnant.

Use of substances

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

  • The school’s English teacher Mr Edly is an alcoholic, drinking copious amounts of wine and spirits throughout the film. In a number of scenes Mr Edly is visibly drunk. Spud asks him, “Why do you drink? The more you drink the sadder you get”.
  • On one occasion, Mr Edly pours Spud a glass of wine and tells Spud to drink it because it will loosen him up. Spud slowly drinks the wine.
  • We hear that Spud’s father is helping his maid sell illegal alcohol.
  • We see a dream image of Debbie with a cigarette in her mouth.

Coarse language

Spud contains coarse language and name calling throughout. Examples include:

  • Bloody day; even the Queen has to shit; my balls haven’t dropped; farting; what the hell; crap; bugger off; god’s sake; shagging; piss off; slut; dirty old bastard; bum; wanker; shagging; knockers

In a nutshell

Spud is a coming of age comedy which is likely to entertain older adolescents and adults. There are scenes that may disturb younger viewers and parents may be concerned about the violence, particularly bullying, the sexual references and coarse language in the film.

The main message from this movie is that our greatest gift in life is freedom of choice.

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

  • Friendship: Spuds demonstrates the value of friendship when he befriends Gecko. He provides Gecko with emotional and moral support, especially when Gecko falls sick and is hospitalised.
  • Perseverance and courage: Spud perseveres in his attempts to fit in at school and demonstrates courage when goes outside his comfort zone and auditions for the schoolmusical.

Parents may also wish to discuss the attitude to girls and women displayed by both the boys and their teachers.