Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Wishmas Tree

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Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 9 (scary scenes, violence and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Wishmas Tree
  • a review of The Wishmas Tree completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 March 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to scary scenes, violence and themes.
Children aged 5–9 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes, violence and themes.
Children over the age of 9 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: The Wishmas Tree
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and animated violence
Length 139 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kerry (voice of Miranda Tapsell) is an adventurous ringtail possum who lives in a safe city, protected from the bloodthirsty beasts living in the wild. Yet the wild is what she really wants to see. When the wish Kerry casts upon the Wishmas Tree does not appear to be fulfilled she decides to ignore the cautions of Yarra (voice of Ross Noble), the tree’s ancient guardian, and pluck the last flower to make another wish in the hope that this time it will be granted. Kerry’s selfishness causes a climate shift and the Wishmas Tree begins to wither and die. Upon witnessing the suffering she has inadvertently caused, Kerry sets out with Yarra and is soon joined by her cautious sister Petra (voice of Kate Murphy). Together they journey into the wild to find the first Wishmas Tree and to wish upon another blossom that might save them all from the evil forces of extinction. Along the way they face their fears, encounter creatures just as frightened as they are, become champions for good and learn to believe in the impossible.

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.

Extinction, segregation, difficult family relationships, possession by an evil force, environmental disasters.

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:

  • Lizards describe bloodthirsty beasts who will devour anyone and who use bones as toothpicks.
  • A bird is electrocuted and drops into the mud.
  • There is repeated hitting and whacking, a little bear is smashed with a bat and menacing wolves appear to attack and kill Yarra.

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 is an evil entity called Extinction that shows up in the form of large, scary, black clouds with a sinister face, glowing eyes and a malicious mouth that looks like it is ready to consume whatever is in its path. Extinction makes a variety of appearances throughout the film and is always accompanied by loud, suspenseful music. The combined effect would likely frighten many young viewers.
  • A number of animals are possessed by Extinction and suddenly become menacing, with evil, glowing eyes. The effect is very creepy.
  • There are a number of skull faces in a swap and some sinister looking characters that share warnings of death and destruction in an effort to terrify Kerry and her sister.
  • Kerry falls from the sky after jumping off a cliff while racing to the Wishmas ceremony. She bashes into a number of things and eventually crashes into a shop and emerges unscathed while the facade of the building crumbles behind her.

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:

  • It looks as though Yarra has sacrificed himself to save Kerry and Petra. The scene of wolves attacking him is shown in the shadows and both girls presume he is dead as they flee and hear sinister, whispery voices all around them. Later, Yarra turns out to be alive but he is possessed by Extinction and tries to attack the girls to stop them from saving the Wishmas Tree.
  • Kerry looks as though she has been killed by Extinction when a swirling black could envelopes her and she falls to the ground, unconscious. She later turns out to be fine but the image of her sister crying over her limp form is likely to upset some children.

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:

  • Aside from some content in the above-mentioned scenes there is nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Some name calling where characters are referred to as “boring,” “annoying,” “slowpoke,” and “stupid.”

In a nutshell

The Wishmas Tree is an animated adventure featuring a number of dark and violent scenes. Due to the nature of some of these scenes the film is most suitable for families with slightly older children.

The main messages from this movie are that we are stronger when we are together; we are never too old to believe in magic; and it is not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.

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

  • Courage
  • Loyalty
  • Responsibility
  • Unity
  • Justice and forgiveness.

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

  • Selfishness and putting your own desires ahead of everything else.
  • Recklessness and taking dangerous risks simply for the sake of adventure.
  • Segregation of communities and allowing fear to stop you from looking after the best interests of everyone.
  • The detrimental impact we can have on natural environments and the importance of trying to reverse the damage we have done.

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