Story

In Boychoir, Stet Tate (Garrett Wareing) is an 11-year-old boy living with his troubled single mother, Debbie (Erica Piccininni). Debbie is killed in a car crash, and Stet meets his father, Gerard (Josh Lucas), for the first time. Gerard has another family who know nothing of Stet, and Gerard doesn’t want them to find out. He sends Stet to board at the American Boy Choir School, the top choir school in the country.

Stet has a gift for singing but finds it very hard to conform to boarding school rules. The choirmaster, Mr Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman), recognises both Stet’s talent and conflict and pushes Stet hard to achieve his potential. Meanwhile Stet must contend with bullying from his roommate Raffi (River Alexander) and jealousy from the top boy, Devon (Joe West).

Themes

Single parenting; alcohol abuse; death of a parent; abandonment by a parent; bullying

Violence

Boychoir has some violence. For example:

  • Stet is bullied at school. A boy throws a towel at him in the bathroom, and all of the boys laugh at him.
  • Raffi throws all of Stet’s clothes out of the window.
  • Stet smashes a window in anger and makes Raffi’s stereo explode in his face.
  • Stet attacks Devon and punches him several times before he is stopped.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Boychoir has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged under eight years. For example:

  • Debbie passes out on the sofa. Stet pours a bottle of alcohol down the sink and watches his mother take a bath.
  • One scene shows a car crash scene. The car is lying upside down, and Debbie is sprawled underneath the car.

From 8-13
Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above and also by the following scenes:

  • Stet’s father, Gerard, doesn’t want his family to know about Stet. Gerard pays the choir school lots of money to take Stet.
  • All the boys go home for Christmas except for Stet, who hides in his room and must fend for himself by finding what food he can in the kitchen.
  • Devon hacks into Stet’s personal file and discovers that his mother Debbie had been to prison. He prints out multiple copies of Debbie’s prison photo, displays them around the school and hands them out to all of the boys.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Boychoir shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Debbie is an alcoholic. Her drinking has damaged her life and Stet’s life.
  • Characters drink wine at meals.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Boychoir: Apple computers.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in Boychoir.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Boychoir is a drama about young boys at a choir boarding school. Lovers of classical choir music will enjoy this movie, which features great performances from Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates (the principal). 

Boychoir is likely to lack interest for very young viewers. We don’t recommend it for children aged under 12 years, and we also recommend parental guidance for children aged 12-14 years. 

This is because the movie has some intense scenes and themes that might disturb primary school-age children and young teenagers, particularly those who identify with Stet’s situation. For example, Stet’s father doesn’t want to know about him, and Stet’s mother is an alcoholic. The school bullying scenes might also upset children.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • You can overcome tough times with determination.
  • If you use your talents, you can find out who you really are.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include determination and hard work, willingness to change, and forgiveness.

You could also talk with your children about the following issues:

  • Although Stet has had a tough time, could he try harder to be friendly to the other boys? 
  • How should you handle bullies?
  • Stet breaks into a vending machine, and all of the boys help themselves to food. Nothing happens to the boys as a result, but would this be the case in real life?