Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Australia Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Messy but engrossing epic about race, love, and war.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 165 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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."


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."

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bystacymavros April 16, 2009

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... Continue reading
Adult Written byMEEBParker March 21, 2009

Take a trip to Australia!

What a great family movie! It is not nearly as serious as it is billed to be. And there's a perfectly enchanting child at it's center. Yes, it is ve... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byrebo344 August 29, 2016

Interesting film with stunning cinematography and great performances.

Australia is a good movie. It's not amazing, but I was interested. Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman were excellent in their roles and Brandon Walters was als... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old August 9, 2015



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?

Baz Luhrmann isn't subtle, so it's no surprise that this compelling movie -- the most expensive one 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sweeping dramas

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