Story

The title of this movie refers to the Melbourne Cup, and the movie tells the story of the Australian jockey Damien Oliver. The movie opens at a presentation dinner, where Damien Oliver (Stephen Curry) gets the Jockey of the Year award. He also tells the surprised audience that he’ll now be riding for the Irish trainer Dermot Weld (Brendan Gleeson). From here, the movie is a series of interwoven stories that show the events and people in Damien Oliver’s turbulent life in the weeks leading up to the 2002 Melbourne Cup.

At first, the movie focuses on Damien’s relationship with his brother Jason (Daniel MacPherson), wife Trish (Jodi Gordon), manager Neil Pinner (Martin Sacks), friend and mentor Lee Freedman (Shaun Micallef), and the handler of the horse Media Puzzle, Dave Phillips (Tom Burlinson). The movie goes on to trace Damien’s progress towards the Melbourne Cup and the family disaster that threatens his career.

Themes

The Melbourne cup; horseracing and riding; death of family members

Violence

The Cup contains no person-to-person violence to concern you. But it does show scenes with injuries and death resulting from horseracing. These scenes might upset children and are described below.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8 

There are several scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • Black and white newsreel footage shows the death of Damien’s father. The footage includes images of a horse tumbling over its jockey and a funeral service with men carrying a coffin.
  • A couple of images show a horse rearing up in a threatening way.
  • Damien shows a scar on his shoulder and describes how he got it, along with several other injuries he got from falling off horses. The injuries include a broken collarbone, wrist and ankle.
  • Several scenes show newsreel images of the 2002 Bali bombings. There’s actual but brief footage of a smoking building in ruins and survivors walking around, including an image of a man with cuts over his face.
  • There are images of a burns victim in hospital with his arms and torso completely wrapped in bandages. His face is covered in burns scars, and he has an oxygen tube in one nostril.
  • Jason Oliver tumbles headfirst over a horse, which then somersaults through the air and lands on top of him (although we don’t actually see this bit). Jason is carried on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. A later scene shows him attached to a respirator. And another scene shows distraught family members standing at his bedside as his life support machine is turned off.
  • In a flashback scene, Damien and Jason’s father lies in a hospital bed attached to a respirator. Damien’s mother cries at his bedside.
  • In several scenes, people get very upset and cry about the news that Jason won’t get better after his accident. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes. 

Over 13

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. 

Sexual references

This movie has some infrequent, low-level sexual references. For example:

  • When Damien talks about getting together with his wife, he refers to himself as ‘batting above my average’.
  • When a man leaves his wife to travel to Australia for work, his wife tells him in a joking way to ‘watch out for those Australian women’.
  • A man watches several women wearing bikini tops and shorts riding horses along a beach. The man says, ‘I think he likes the bikinis’ (‘he’ is one of the horses). 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some occasional alcohol use. For example:

  • Characters drink champagne, wine and beer at social events.
  • A bottle of spirits sits on a table in a man’s office. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some partial nudity and infrequent low-level sexual activity. For example:

  • Jockeys sit in a change room with bare chests.
  • Damien’s wife sits up in bed wearing a nighty with a plunging neckline. Damien has a bare chest. He sits on the bed and then dives under the bed covers. He and his wife briefly move around under the covers.
  • Women wear low-cut bikini tops, evening dresses and brief shorts. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has some infrequent, low-level coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Cup is an emotionally charged drama targeting an adult audience, particularly those with a love for horseracing and an interest in the Melbourne Cup. It lacks interest for children and contains distressing scenes of injury and death.

The main message from this movie is that being a champion isn’t just about winning, but about never giving up, no matter how hard things are.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include friendship and never giving up. For example, with the help of family and friends, a strong will and determination, Damien gets through very hard emotional times.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about what it’s like to be a jockey and the consequences of taking part in the dangerous and demanding sport of horseracing.