Australian Council on Children and the Media

Superhero Movie

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Not recommended under 15 due to crude sexual references and situations, violence, drug references, and coarse language

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Superhero Movie
  • a review of Superhero Movie completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 April 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to crude sexual references and situations, violence, drug references and coarse language.
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group, but not recommended due to crude sexual references and situations, violence, drug references, and coarse language.

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: Superhero Movie
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate sexual references, Infrequent moderate coarse language
Length 86 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Rick Riker (Drake Bell), a somewhat nerdy teenager, lives with his Aunt Lucille (Marion Ross) and Uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen) and travels to school every morning on the school bus with his best friend Trey (Kevin Hart). Rick has a severe crush on Jill Johnson, (Sara Paxton), who lives next door and is the most popular girl in school. However, Jill already has a boy friend, the school’s star football player Lance Landers (Ryan Hansen), a not so nice rich kid who bullies Rick on a daily basis. During a school science field trip to a genetics-engineering lab owned by Lance’s Uncle Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald), Rick is bitten on the neck by a genetically modified dragonfly and is bed ridden for several days. When Rick recovers he finds that he has been transformed and now possesses superhuman powers.

It takes time for Rick to adjust to his new powers and he gets into some sticky situations at school as a result. Before long Rick is approached by Professor Xavier (Tracy Morgan) and taken to a Superhero School where he gets some pointers from X-Men and Fantastic Four superhero types including Stretchy Boy, Sneezo, Wolverine and The Human Torch. Rick takes on the superhero identity of Dragonfly and engages in life and death struggles to protect the weak from the city’s villains.   

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.

Superheroes

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.

Superhero Movie contains comedy and slapstick violence and accidental harm. While the violence is mainly free of blood and gore, there are a couple of instances of gruesome horror-like images. Examples include:

  • While chasing the school bus, Rick is knocked down when he smashes his head against the door of the bus. He then runs into the bus’s side mirror and the bus’s stop sign.
  • A male student is punched in the face by two other male students.
  • A girl kicks a boy in the crotch.
  • Rick uses the flash on his camera to take a picture of a genetically altered bird. The flash causes the bird to explode into flames. In a bid to put out the flames, Rick stomps on the bird and then kicks it into the air. It hits Lance in the head.
  • Rick makes reference to his parents being violently murdered.
  • School bully Lance Landers pushes Rick chest first into animal excrement.
  • Lou Landers is strapped into an electric chair type apparatus designed to reverse the effects of an incurable disease. When the chair is turned on, Lou face distorts and he appears to be suffering pain. When the procedure is over, Lou grabs hold of another man’s arm sucking out the man’s life energy. The man writhes in pain, aging on the spot until he drops dead on the floor leaving a mummified looking corpse. Lou Landers then proceeds to kill the remaining people in the room. We do not see the deaths but hear men screaming and sucking noises. In another scene, we see Landers as Hourglass suck the life out of a woman and then violently stuff her lifeless body into a cupboard.
  • We see a photo of Rick’s father with a gun to his head.
  • After Lance bullies him, Rick hits Lance in the head with a sink, and rips off a man’s shirt. 
  • A Stephen Hawking lookalike (a disabled man in a wheelchair) talks about killing himself. Later in the film he has several accidents. Boiling hot coffee is accidentally spilt in his lap, he is accidentally thrown headfirst through a window into a hive of genetically engineered bees with the bees and he falls from a rooftop. 
  • While on a science field trip, Rick is bitten on the neck by a dragonfly. Later a large red swollen bite mark is seen on his neck. 
  • We hear a computer ask a man if he needs assistance committing mass murder.
  • Rick pushes an old woman and her dog out of the path of an oncoming truck. As a result, the woman and dog are sucked into a mulching machine. No blood and gore are seen.
  • Rick’s Uncle Albert fires a nail from a nail gun at Rick. Rick catches it in his fingertips. Uncle Albert shoots Trey in the leg with the nail gun with Trey shouting out in pain. Uncle Albert then punches Trey and stabs Rick in the stomach with a carving knife, the knife bending as it is deflected by Rick’s superhero body.
  • During a flashback of Rick as a young boy, we see his parents being mugged by some thugs with guns. A young Rick ends up with a gun and starts shooting with ricocheting bullets causing street light shades to fall on his father and mother. Further ricocheting bullets hit his father in the chest and his mother in the side. Rick also accidentally drops a ring in his father’s throat causing his father to choke. Rick pounds on his father’s chest causing his father to spit out the ring into Rick’s face. 
  • While talking to Jill, Rick grabs hold of an electric fence and receives a shock. There are no adverse effects but, shortly afterwards, two lovebirds sit on the fence and are electrocuted.
  • We hear a gun shot and see Rick’s Uncle Albert lying shot in the street (no blood and gore). When Rick attends his uncle, who is lying on the ground, he accidentally kneels on his uncle’s groin. We later hear that, as a result, Uncle Albert is in a coma in hospital.
  • When Rick goes to superheroes school, we see a superhero, Storm, use her powers to electrocute Professor Xavier. We later see two superheroes, The Invisible Girl and Mrs. Xavier (who is in a wheel chair) fighting, with punches and hair pulling.
  • While Rick is talking to The Human Torch, we see hear the Human Torch say “flame on” and he is engulfed in flames. The Human Torch appears OK for a while, but then starts screaming in pain. Rick tries to put the flames out by stamping on The Human Torch and hitting him over the head with a fire extinguisher. Rick then pours petrol over The Human Torch causing him to explode in flames and leap off the building.
  • While at superhero school, we see a boy sneeze with so much force that it decapitates the a boy sitting next to him.
  • One scene depicts gun wielding SWAT police, and a fistfight between Hourglass and Dragonfly. Dragonfly punches Hourglass in the face knocking him back. Hourglass hurls a ball with protruding blades at Dragonfly, the blades striking Dragonfly on the arm and leg: Later we see a gash on Rick’s arm.    
  • A man gets a piece of broken glass in his eye and moans in pain.
  • Jill is chased through a darkened alleyway by a group of men. Dragonfly appears and a fight erupts. Dragonfly punches one man and kicks two in the head. He repeatedly bashes one man in the head with a rubbish bin lid, bashes another man’s head repeatedly into a brick wall and bashes yet another man’s head repeatedly against a dumpster. Dragonfly twists and breaks a man’s arm and we hear the sound of bones breaking.
  • Aunt Lucille stuffs, amongst other things, a live kitten into a turkey which is to be roasted. We hear the kitten squeal.
  • Aunt Lucille stabs Lou Landers in the hand with a meat fork.
  • A living room window explodes inwards to reveal Hourglass standing on the other side. The Hourglass threatens physical harm against Aunt Lucille if Dragonfly does not keep out of his way. Later we hear a doctor in a hospital tell Rick that his Aunt Lucille has died. During Aunt Lucille’s funeral, her body falls out of the coffin and catches on fire.
  • In one scene a car drives through a children’s playground scattering children. We then see the car driving with a number of children and pieces of play equipment being dragged behind the car. 
  • During a presentation dinner, Dragonfly smashes the Dalai Lama’s head against a podium (he thinks the Dalai Lama is the Hourglass in disguise) and then hits the Dalai Lama over the head with a microphone. A crowd fight brakes out with a man punching a priest in the face and body. A large block of concrete falls on the Dragonfly twice, crushing him beneath. Jill is stabbed in the stomach by the Hourglass, and while Dragonfly is carrying Jill’s body he accidentally hits her head against a doorframe:
  • During the struggle between Dragonfly and Hourglass, Hourglass manages to place a bomb on Dragonfly’s crotch, but Dragonfly manages to detach the bomb before it explodes and attaches it to Hourglass with the bomb exploding and killing Hourglass and sending Dragonfly flying through the air: No visible blood and gore. As a result of the explosion Rick and Jill fall off the building, but are saved when Dragonfly grows wings. They are then struck by a helicopter.

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:

  •  When ‘Stephen Hawking’ falls headfirst through a glass enclosure containing a swarm of bees we see images of a helpless Hawking with his face and head covered in bees.
  • When Hourglass touches people he sucks out their life force. His victims shake and their bodies begin to take on a dehydrated appearance with the victim ending up looking as if mummified. We also hear screaming. One victim a women ends up with a face and hair that resembles a witch or a corpse. 
  •  Lou Landers coughs into a handkerchief and we see the handkerchief covered in splatters of blood.  

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 are also likely to be disturbed by 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

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.

Superhero Movie contains frequent crude sexual references. For example:

  • Reference is made to the “Sexual Predator Society”.
  • Rick’s friend Trey tells Rick to look at something “Nasty” he down loaded from the web, Rick looks at Trey’s computer screen (not depicted) and we hear the sounds of sheep bleating.
  • Uncle Albert talks about Aunt Lucille saying, “Your thighs look like cottage cheese thrown up on a side walk.” Aunt Lucille responds by telling Albert his penis was always small.
  • Uncle Albert gives Rick a sex education talk telling Rick that “Once a month you will bleed from your vagina.” He also tells Rick “Tomorrow we will circumcise you.”  
  • We see written on a computer screen “have you ever had sexual intercourse?”
  • A man refers to “Two girls, one Cup”, an Internet video with sexually explicit content, telling a second man “You know what to do.”
  • Steven Hawking discusses having his “arse wiped” and his inability to have sex, and says that his nurse is a lesbian.  
  • A boy says that he got bruises as a result of “meeting a girl on Craig’s list,” implying a sexual encounter. Another man says he received bruises from “meeting a man on Craig’s list” also implying sexual encounter.
  • Uncle Albert tells Rick “I had sex with you just like your father did.”
  • A doctor tells Rick that they cut off his uncle’s testicle, but not his penis.
  • Reference is made to “Cheap Internet porn.”
  • At an awards dinner, Lou Landers is presented with the “Douche Bag of the Year” award including a douche bag like trophy. A jazz-type orchestra then plays and sings a song entitled “Douche Bag of the Year. 
  • We see a headline advertising “Rosie O’Donnell to pose nude.”
  • A superhero describes fixing prostates and seeing through tube tops as being his superpowers. 
  • Jill makes comment that her father said she will not make a good dancer because her breasts are too big.
  • ‘Steven Hawking’ tells a girl she has an incredible arse.
  • We hear a man make the comment “When you sleep with someone you sleep with everyone that person has slept with. Does that make you gay? Yes it does.”

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

Superhero Movie contains frequent crude sexual references. For example:

  • Reference is made to the “Sexual Predator Society”.
  • Rick’s friend Trey tells Rick to look at something “Nasty” he down loaded from the web, Rick looks at Trey’s computer screen (not depicted) and we hear the sounds of sheep bleating.
  • Uncle Albert talks about Aunt Lucille saying, “Your thighs look like cottage cheese thrown up on a side walk.” Aunt Lucille responds by telling Albert his penis was always small.
  • Uncle Albert gives Rick a sex education talk telling Rick that “Once a month you will bleed from your vagina.” He also tells Rick “Tomorrow we will circumcise you.”  
  • We see written on a computer screen “have you ever had sexual intercourse?”
  • A man refers to “Two girls, one Cup”, an Internet video with sexually explicit content, telling a second man “You know what to do.”
  • Steven Hawking discusses having his “arse wiped” and his inability to have sex, and says that his nurse is a lesbian.  
  • A boy says that he got bruises as a result of “meeting a girl on Craig’s list,” implying a sexual encounter. Another man says he received bruises from “meeting a man on Craig’s list” also implying sexual encounter.
  • Uncle Albert tells Rick “I had sex with you just like your father did.”
  • A doctor tells Rick that they cut off his uncle’s testicle, but not his penis.
  • Reference is made to “Cheap Internet porn.”
  • At an awards dinner, Lou Landers is presented with the “Douche Bag of the Year” award including a douche bag like trophy. A jazz-type orchestra then plays and sings a song entitled “Douche Bag of the Year. 
  • We see a headline advertising “Rosie O’Donnell to pose nude.”
  • A superhero describes fixing prostates and seeing through tube tops as being his superpowers. 
  • Jill makes comment that her father said she will not make a good dancer because her breasts are too big.
  • ‘Steven Hawking’ tells a girl she has an incredible arse.
  • We hear a man make the comment “When you sleep with someone you sleep with everyone that person has slept with. Does that make you gay? Yes it does.”

Nudity and sexual activity

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

  • While at a genetics lab, Rick accidentally spills hormones on himself. We see dozens of animals of all types running towards Rick and then sexually assaulting him, attaching themselves to various parts of Rick’s body. We see Rick lying on the ground covered head to foot with various animals. A snail trying to hurries towards Rick, telling the other animals, “Hold him down I’m on my way.” Later we see the snail humping Rick with the snail saying “Take it all bitch.” 
  • Rick wakes up in bed with his uncle lying next to him
  • We see Rick looking through his bedroom window watching Jill in her bedroom. Jill is standing with her bra on, and she takes off her bra to reveal a second bra underneath. We then see Jill holding up and displaying a variety of panties with her pulling out a G string type pair of panties from what appears to be a tooth flossing container. Rick looks away and when he looks back we see images of a fat man rubbing lotion over his bare hairy chest.     
  • Rick accidentally grabs a woman’s breasts with his hands sticking to the breasts.
  • Rick and his Aunt Lucille, who are applying for a bank loan sit on one side of a desk with a bank manager on the other side of the desk. The bank manager make a comment that Rick’s aunt rubbing his crotch will get them their loan, but then Rick implies that it was him rubbing the man’s crotch.  
  • After killing a woman, Hourglass tries to hide the woman’s body in a cupboard, but another man walk in on the act and see a scene that looks as if Hourglass is having sexual intercourse with the woman.   
  • Jill and other women wear revealing clothes.
  • Dragonfly hangs upside down from a ladder with his face in front of Jill’s face, but then the ladder slips to the point where Dragonfly’s face is level with Jill’s crotch and Jill’s face in front of Dragonfly’s groin. In the same scene, Dragonfly and Jill kiss each other passionately.
  • While attending a funeral, Uncle Albert views the corpse of an attractive woman lying in a coffin. He jumps into the coffin and lying on top of the corpse, grabs the corpse’s breasts, and appears to be attempting to have sex with the corpse.
  • In one scene we see images of several couples kissing in public. We then see the street littered with beds with couples in the beds.
  • As the film’s end credits roll we see images of Jill in a bra and panties doing a pole dance in her bedroom.

Use of substances

Superhero Movie contains some drug reference and use. Examples include:

  • Uncle Albert gives Rick a bottle of beer to drink and drinks one himself.
  • ‘Steven Hawking’ tells a crowd of high school students that he has some hash on him.
  • A doctor deliberately injects himself with a drug.
  • A superhero swallows an entire bottle of steroid pills.
  • Aunt Lucille pours an entire bottle of vodka into a turkey she is preparing for cooking. She also butts out a cigarette that she is smoking in an ash tray and tips the entire contents of the ashtray into the turkey. 
  • Rick makes a reference to his “cack pipe” being broken, and says that he cut his lip on a crack pipe.
  • Rick puts cake frosting into the bowl of a bong and smokes it.
  • Reference is made to “roofies,” an aphrodisiac-type drug.

Coarse language

There are coarse language and put-downs in this movie, including:

“Cutting edge shit; looser; You’re shitting me; I shat my pants; Wipe your arse; Dip shit; shit; Stupid; Bitches; Whore; Shit box; Balls; screwed up; Dumb arse; Non Asian gifted; Bitch whip your arse; Shit head; Oh my god; Are you freeking insane?; Who the hell; Oh shit; Crazy shit machine; Douch bag; Oh fuck. “

Superhero Movie contains other crude humour including:

  • A man cleans his nostrils with a small brush.
  • Rick vomits into a fish tank, we see vomit coming out of his mouth and mixing with the water in the tank.
  • Uncle Albert produces flatulence loudly and numerous times when he get out of bed.
  • Hourglass vomits in a rubbish bin.    
  • Dragonfly arrives home and goes to the toilet to urinate, but is interrupted and is forced to stick to his bedroom ceiling to avoid detection. While he is attached to the ceiling, urine starts to leak through his costume and drip onto the floor. The dripping increases until it becomes a gush, we then see urine spraying out as if coming from a sprinkler.
  • Lou Landers goes to Rick’s house for dinner, but before dinner is over, Lou stands up and announces “I shat my pants”, and walks out.
  • While lying on a couch with her back facing Rick and Jill, Aunt Lucille repeatedly produces louder and louder flatulence. The action causes the bottom of her dress to blow in and out and Rick and Jill’s hair to be blown as if in a strong wind. They complain their eyes are burning. We also see candles flaming up high and exploding and a bird dies. In a bid to avoid the bad smell, Jill inserts a tampon up each of her nostrils.   
  • Images of a man picking his nose.
  • We see a young man standing behind Wolverine we hear the comment, “This is the boy who wipes wolf’s arse. We see boy with paper and the motion of him wiping Wolverine’s bottom, but do not see explicit images.

In a nutshell

Superhero Movie is a crass comedy that parodies a number of superhero films, but is little more than a collection of short jokes and gags. Most of the film’s humour relies on crude sexual references and situations.

Other than good triumphing over evil, Superhero Movie has little to offer in terms of worthwhile messages, but if one was to be extracted from this film it would be that helping others is what makes a real hero.

Parents who allow their children to see the film may wish to discuss the film’s portrayal of sexual relationships and the finding of humour in topics such as paedophilia and disability.

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