Australia

  • Review Date: November 27, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 165 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Messy but engrossing epic about race, love, and war.
  • Review Date: November 27, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 165 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's historically accurate storyline -- in which half-aboriginal, half-white children are taken away from their homes and taught how to be domestic servants in white society -- is meant to teach an historical lesson about racism toward native cultures. Other messages include love triumphing against the odds and people finding family in unexpected places.

Positive role models

A woman is underestimated as not being brave or bold enough to run her
own cattle farm in a dangerous territory, but she shows the men around
her that she can hold her own. A couple from different social classes falls in love and further goes against the norms of the time by socializing with aboriginal people. Some characters are outright villains with no redeeming qualities.

Violence

Several scenes of disturbing violence, including two men being speared to death, one man getting thrown into crocodile-infested waters, a woman drowning, a man being trampled to death by a stampede of cows, a young boy being struck by an adult, World War II bombings/explosions, burned characters, and the death of a well-liked character. A few instances of violence are episodes of men sacrificing themselves to save other characters. A kangaroo is hunted, but the scene is played for laughs.

Sex

The film's stars have an electric chemistry that's accompanied by a lot of sexual tension. Jackman's character in particular is depicted as incredibly sexually attractive; there are several scenes of him shirtless. A scene in which a white man knocks on an aboriginal woman's door for sex (he's later shown buckling his belt, etc.) is somewhat disturbing. A couple passionately kisses several times and makes love on a bed, but there's no nudity. A woman takes a bath in front of a man (no camera shots below the shoulders). A boy is aware of sexual behavior and calls it "wrong-headed business."

Language

Lots of "crikey"; other language includes infrequent uses of words like "damn," "bloody," and "bastard." One use of "f--king." Several characters use disparaging terms to refer to aboriginal and half-aboriginal people, including "creamy."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Australians are portrayed as hard drinking. Various adults drink hard liquor in and out of a pub. One man is known as a drunk and sneaks alcohol on most occasions.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this historical melodrama stars popular Aussies Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, but even with that level of celebrity wattage, it's unlikely to attract tweens and younger teens. But older teens, especially mature girls, may be drawn to the romance that's played up in the advertising. The film deals with mature themes like racism, greed, war, class consciousness, and sexual politics. The violence is realistic and occasionally bloody -- characters are speared, shot, burned, drowned, and beaten. The characters' sexual chemistry and tension turns into several passionate kisses and a love-making scene in which bare shoulders, a man's chest, and a woman's underwear, back, and legs are all visible. The Northern Territory is portrayed as full of hard-drinking, aboriginal-hating men and demure, high-society couples. Mature teens who see the film are likely to learn about about Australia's role in World War II and how the country historically treated its indigenous people.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Set in Australia's Northern Territory before World War II, AUSTRALIA follows Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), an English aristocrat who travels Down Under to convince her husband to sell their unprofitable cattle farm. From the moment she arrives, she's completely out of her element, and then a mysterious tragedy leaves her a widow with a property she doesn't know how to manage -- and a greedy, villainous competitor to outsmart. Enter grizzled drifter Drover (Hugh Jackman), the only person Sarah can trust to help save her cattle farm. As the two battle harsh elements and unforgiving odds, they (predictably) fall in love and take guardianship of Nullah (Brandon Walters), an orphaned biracial aboriginal boy they must protect from the authorities who seek to strip him of his culture and teach him to become a servant in white society.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Baz Luhrmann isn't a subtle filmmaker, so it's no surprise that Australia -- the most expensive movie ever made Down Under -- has been criticized as a self-indulgent, grandiose, and bumpy ride. It is all of those things, not to mention overlong and campy. But despite its flaws (multiple endings, an uneven tone, and overall hamminess), it's also an utterly riveting, lushly photographed epic with all the high-stakes melodrama of the 1939 films it's an homage to: The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind (Jackman, like George Clooney, is one of a handful of modern leading men who can channel the dashing Clark Gable).

The film's pre-World War II acts work best, when Sarah and Drover -- along with the adorable Nullah and their other aboriginal associates -- band together to drove their cattle across barren no man's land to challenge the Australian beef industry's oligarch King Carney and his henchman Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) for a lucrative Army contract. The perilous adventure culminates in a boring society ball where Jackman makes a grand entrance and sweeps Sarah away in the rain. Kisses in the rain are as formulaic as film scenes come, but it doesn't matter when the leading couple is so appealing. So, as choppy and manipulative as the two-and-a-half-hour tale can get, the Man Behind the Curtain's gift for theatricality makes Australia hard to resist.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's big issues. What do your kids think about the way the film addresses race, and how do they think things have changed since the film's era?

  • How were World War II-era racial tensions in Australia similar to and

  • different from those in America?

  • How accurate do you think the movie is

  • in portraying Australia's history? What did you learn about the country

  • that you didn't know before seeing the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 26, 2008
DVD release date:March 3, 2009
Cast:David Wenham, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
Director:Baz Luhrmann
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Run time:165 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some violence, a scene of sensuality, and brief strong language

This review of Australia was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bystacymavros April 16, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Really beautiful in scenery and story.

Due to some disturbing images/content this movie is for the 17+ crowd but I ABSOLUTELY loved it! Beautifully shot and smartly written, a wonderful surprise of a journey.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written bymollyrookwood May 28, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

fabulous movie, but not for younger kids

I loved australia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was one of the best movies i've seen in a long time. there is a sex scene, but you don't actually see anything too graphic. this movie had me crying and laughing and holding my breath... i loved it!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byMBHancock November 27, 2008
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Historic fiction worth seeing

I thought there were too many story lines taking place in the movie though I guess you could say they did all finally come together in the end. Just when you thought the movie was over and everyone lives happily ever after something else happens... Even so, I enjoyed the movie and especially Hugh Jackman who I thought was very credible in his role. I thought the movie did a good job depicting the outback of WWII era Australia and did not tread lightly around the race issues. In regards to violence in the movie, it wasn't over the top and fit the storyline. The couples scenes are less than what you would see on t.v. at 9 pm. I would take a mature 12 year old to see this movie if they showed an interest.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide