Australian Council on Children and the Media

Storm Boy

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Not recommended under 10, Parental guidance to 13 (mild themes, occasional language).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Storm Boy
  • a review of Storm Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 January 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended for children under 10 due to mild themes.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended.
Children 13 and over Suitable 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: Storm Boy
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and occasional coarse language.
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Following the death of his wife and daughter, ‘Hideaway’ Tom (Jai Courtney) takes his young son Michael (Finn Little) to live in a shack by the beach. He is unable to face people or deal with his grief, so he shuts them both off from the world. Whilst exploring the sand dunes, Michael makes a friend of sorts in ‘Fingerbone’ Bill (Trevor Jamieson) and when he happens upon a nest of new born pelicans whose parents have both been killed by hunters, he vows to save them. Things look grim for the birds, especially the smallest one, but Michael cares for them and goes to extreme measures to keep them safe. Little by little they grow and thrive and a special bond develops between Michael and Mr Percival, the one whom no one believed would survive. The bird seems to sense that it owes its life to Michael and develops a special attachment to him that his pelican brothers Mr. Proud and Mr. Ponder do not. Michael trains the birds to fly, teaches them to fish, and ultimately sets them free. Despite his freedom, Mr. Percival returns, and he and Michael are inseparable devoted friends. When Mr. Percival suddenly becomes a local hero, a series of events are set in motion and Michael finds himself leaving his father, his home and his heart behind. He returns to the remains of the shack many years later as the well-to-do Mr. Kingsley (Geoffrey Rush) with his granddaughter Madeleine (Morgana Davies) to whom he has been recounting his own life story. He hopes that by sharing his past with her that history will not repeat itself and that his experiences will help her find her own way in a world far more complicated than it should 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 of parents; death of a spouse; death of sibling; death of daughter; cruelty to animals.

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 violent storm rages and a window is shattered in an office building. Mr Kingsley peers into the storm trying to see a Pelican in the distance and it looks as though he might fall out through the window.
  • Pelicans are shot from the sky by hunters as are other birds. Most are killed and others are simply left to die. There is repeated footage of this at different points in the film.
  • Mr. Percival flies at the hunters and tries to attack them after they shoot and kill a bunch of birds.

 

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 scene where the storm suddenly shatters the glass of the office building and a thousand papers swirl and fly around inside and a pelican is seen through the driving rain is sudden and intense and may be frightening to very young viewers.

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:

  • Michael’s grieving father tells the story of how Michael lost his mother and sister in a car accident. We also hear Michael talk of it to Mr. Percival.
  • Maggie’s mother passes away and she and her grandfather mourn the loss.
  • Michael is forced to set his pelicans free and it is heart-wrenching watching him struggle with his desperate longing to keep the birds versus their need to be free.
  • Michael is threatened by hunters when he takes Mr Percival into town.
  • Hideaway Tom is thrown off his boat in a storm. Michael watches from the shore as his father struggles and goes under. It looks as though he is about to lose his father too but then Michael gets Mr. Percival to fly out to sea and drop his father a line. This action saves his life.
  • When hunters attack a group of birds Mr Percival swoops down on them. He is then shot and dies a slow death in Michael’s arms. The scene is realistic and very emotional.

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.

Aside from the above mentioned scenes there is nothing in this film that would frighten children between the ages of eight to thirteen.

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.

There is nothing in this film that would frighten children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

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

  • Mr. Kingsley falls asleep while telling Maggie his story. There is an open wine bottle beside him which Maggie hides from the housekeeper and then offers to pour some into his coffee.
  • Hideaway Tom drinks while living in the shack by the sea. He even has a special shot glass which is referenced on a number of occasions when Michael begins using it to help feed his pelicans.
  • Beer cans are seen floating in the water.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • The terms ‘bloody’ and ‘mongrels’ are both used in the film.

In a nutshell

Storm Boy is an Australian drama based on the book by Colin Thiele. It is a touching tale of love and loss and hope. It will appeal to a wide variety of audiences and has lessons for every age.

The main messages from this movie are to trust your heart, treasure your family, and to stand up for what is right and what you believe no matter what anyone else thinks.

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

  • Love
  • Determination
  • Compassion
  • Justice
  • Ingenuity

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

  • Hunting and the effect that it has on animal populations and ecosystems.
  • Conservation and how, by protecting areas and animals, those things will be preserved for many years to come.
  • Working too much and throwing your life off balance to the point that your family begins to suffer, or that you risk losing them entirely.
  • The consequence of shutting yourself off from the world, or from love, because you are trying to escape pain from the past. Not facing your difficult emotions can lead to even greater suffering.

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