Opal Dream

  • Review Date: July 18, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Unusual Australian drama has a few moments of violence.
  • Review Date: July 18, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Age(i)

2
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8
9
10
11
12
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As the boy Ash says: "When you believe in something, that's what makes it real." The movie makes a strong case for the power of imagination and faith, as well as the benefit of fantasy in a child's life.

Positive role models

Ash learns to set aside his skepticism regarding his sister Kellyanne's imaginary friends for the greater good of trying to restore her health. He is also unafraid to confront the bullies of his school when they join in the town's chorus that his father is a "ratter," or a poacher of mines owned by others.

Violence

After a father is accused of being a thief, his trailer is set on fire as an effigy hangs. When the father confronts the men who did it at a nearby bar, he is beaten up by six men. A boy finds a rat tied around his bicycle handlebars, the work of bullies who believe the boy's father is a "ratter." While a father trespasses on another man's land, the owner of the land runs out and pulls a rifle.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Infrequent profanity: "Piss off," "bastards." A character is called a "retard."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A father is often shown holding and drinking from cans of beer, but does not appear intoxicated. Inside a bar, characters drink beer and smoke cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Opal Dream is a 2006 Australian film about the nature of faith and belief with some episodes of illness and violence. The main character becomes sick when her imaginary friends go missing and she thinks they're dead. Also the family is ostracized by the locals when they think the father has poached their land, and the father is beaten up. Older brother Ash has no problem standing up to bullies, and there is a scene where he discovers a rat has been tied to the handlebars by bullies. A few scenes take place in bars and there's a bit of rough language. The film does raise profound questions about what it means to believe in something, and and the transformative power of imagination.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

Rex Williamson has moved his family to a small town in the Australian Outback in the hopes of striking it rich in an opal mine. Rex's daughter Kellyanne is a fervent believer in the existence of two imaginary friends -- Pobby and Dingan. The family always leaves two extra plates at the dinner table for them, and can't help but indulge their daughter's rich fantasy life. When Rex "takes" Pobby and Dingan to work and "forgets" to bring them back, Kellyanne insists on going back to the mines to find them. When they do, it is dark, and the owner of the mines confronts Rex and accuses him of being a "ratter," or a poacher of other men's mines. The Williamson family ends up being ostracized by almost everyone in the town. While Rex tries to prove his innocence, Kellyanne becomes sick as she believes that Pobby and Dingan have died. It is up to her skeptical brother Ash to find a way to believe his sister's stories and convince his family and town to believe, too.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In much the way viewers might wonder why teenagers in horror films open the basement doors of haunted houses, it's easy to feel frustrated with the decisions the parents make in OPAL DREAM and the ridiculous lengths they go to indulge their 9-year-old daughter's belief in imaginary friends. They leave extra plates at the dinner table, they buckle the empty backseats of their vehicles, and they incur the wrath of the entire town after being caught at night trespassing on mine land. And yet, in spite of the stretching required to deliver the theme of the film, Opal Dream does deliver an inspiring, if uneven, story of faith beyond what most of us see.

The acting -- Christian Byers as the boy Ashmun in particular -- is well done, and the viewer gets a vivid glimpse of  life in an Australian Outback mining town. While the ending requires a great leap of faith on the part of the viewer, it's obvious that the makers of Opal Dream have their heart in the right place, and have a deeper message they want to share with the world.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in the movie. Did it seem appropriate to the story? Would the movie have been as powerful without it?

  • Was the family's response to Kellyanne's active imagination sensible and appropriate? Why or why not?

  • How does Ash change over the course of the movie? What do you think his character is meant to portray?

Movie details

DVD release date:April 3, 2007
Cast:Christian Byers, Sapphire Boyce, Vince Colosimo
Director:Peter Cattaneo
Studio:Strand Releasing
Genre:Drama
Topics:Brothers and sisters
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild thematic elements, language, and some violence

This review of Opal Dream was written by

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  • 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.

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Quality

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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.

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Parent Written bysalamons December 2, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Violent, scary, sad and disheartening story.

This movie is advertised as "exceptional" and "heartwarming". My 8 year old daughter and I found it sad and disturbing at times. The jacket of the DVD shows perhaps the only three fun scenes in the movie. The rest of the movie was very stressful. The imaginary friends of the girl, Kellyanne, go missing. The children's father goes looking for the friends at an opal mine where he has a claim and where he had lost the friends when they were in his charge. The father is threatened and accused unfairly of a crime when he was looking for the missing imaginary friends. The man who threatens him, is very aggressive and violent and uses a gun, foul language and makes untrue accustions. This man sets the family's property on fire, burning down the special house that Kellyanne and her imaginary friends had used to play in. The dangerous man also burns an effigy of the father, that he has hung by the neck. A dead rat is tied to the brother's handle bars. The entire family is ostracized by the town and the mom loses her job. Kellyanne asks her brother, who is just a little boy, to go the mine in the middle of the night, because she fears her friends are dead and in the mine. He rides his bike to the mine and enters the dangerous mine in the dark, down a long ladder, with only a flashlight. He has a stressful experience of finding evidence of the remains of the imaginary friends under some rocks in the bottom of the mine. He determines the friends are dead, down in this awful place. Kellyanne becomes ill and has to go the hospital. In the end, the father is redeemed in court, the mother gets her job back and the entire town attends a funeral for the imaginary friends. Coffins for the friends are lowered into the ground. Though there is a message of redemption and healing, I feel it is a very stressful story not appropriate for small children. I feel it is a hurtful message to a young viewer that an imaginary friend can become lost and die in a scary way, never to return. Though imaginary friends may "disappear" as childhood evolves for children, this story send the message that it can be very sad, scary and confusing. My daughter asked me why anyone would make a movie where imaginary friends would get lost and then die. After the movie was over, she said, "It is the worst movie I ever saw. Never watch it."
What other families should know
Too much violence

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