Story

Based on the novel by Michael Noonan, December Boys tells the story of four orphans. They live in a Catholic convent in outback Australia and are sent to the seaside to stay with Bandy McAnsh (Jack Thompson) and his wife (Kris McQuade) for the summer. What is meant to be a simple holiday turns into a time that will define the boys forever. Maps (Daniel Radcliffe) learns some difficult lessons about life and love while exploring a relationship with Lucy (Teresa Palmer), a girl from down the coast. Sparks (Christian Byers), Misty (Lee Cormie) and Spit (James Fraser) spend the majority of their holiday striving to be the ‘most adoptable’ when they learn that a childless couple Fearless (Sullivan Stapleton) and Teresa (Victoria Hill) are planning to adopt one of them. In the process the boys’ friendship is severely tested as they all try to overcome their longstanding issues with rejection. Ultimately their bonds of friendship and their enduring loyalties overcome their rivalry.

Themes

Adoption; living with cancer; abandonment

Violence

  • Sparks roughly shoulders Misty.
  • Maps punches Fearless in the face.
  • The boys chase Misty and pin him down in the sand, while Spit dangles spit over Misty’s face.
  • Maps destroys a picture that Misty had made and framed. Misty then beats Maps with the broken pieces of wood.
  • While trying to catch a legendary fish Sparks kills it.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

  • Maps and Misty believe that Mrs McAnsh is dead and they sneak into her room to make sure it is true. When they stand looking over her, her eyes pop open and she grabs one of the boys’ arms saying, ‘Pray with me!’ in an intense, creepy voice.
  • Misty falls off the rocks into the water and a rip tide gets hold of him. Maps jumps in to try to save him but he can’t swim either. The boys struggle and it looks like they will both drown before they are rescued by Fearless. The intensity and gravity of the scene may frighten some young children.

Over 8

Children over eight are unlikely to be scared by anything in this film.

Sexual references

  •  The boys frequently pore over  playboy-type magazines from the 1960s featuring scantily clad women and comment on what they see.
  • The boys encourage one another to peep at different women when they are getting dressed or are in the shower. They tell one another things such as, ‘You can see everything’, or ‘She’s taking it all off’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

  • Maps steals a bottle of beer.
  • Maps and other characters are often seen smoking throughout the film.
  • Lucy and Maps share a bottle of ‘grog’ together.
  • Many of the adult characters also drink and smoke.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • The four boys ‘moon’ another orphan (expose their bottoms) and his new parents as they leave the orphanage.
  • Lucy comes out of the sea wearing only her knickers, with her breasts completely exposed.
  • Lucy wears very short, tight shorts that expose part of her buttocks.
  • Lucy sits in a rocking chair in skimpy shorts exposing all of her legs, including her upper thighs and part of her buttock.
  • Lucy and Maps share a cigarette together. She sexily blows smoke towards his ear as he breathes heavily.
  • Three of the boys watch Lucy get undressed.
  • Lucy sings a sexy song to Maps while leaning provocatively over him.
  • Misty watches Mrs McAnsh while she showers and gets a full view of her torso, and her deformed chest (presumably a result of her cancer).
  • Lucy takes Maps’ hand, places it on her upper thigh and drags it to her crotch. She then tells him to touch her breasts and the scene cuts out with him feeling her chest and her instructing him to take off his pants. When we next see them they are lying in each other’s arms and Lucy asks him to always remember her as his ‘first’. 

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

December Boys is a coming-of-age drama featuring beautiful scenery. Because of its themes, it is best suited to older children and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that there is more than one way to realise a dream and that its possible to discover that the things we strive for may well be under our very noses. You might like to talk about this as well as the values in this movie such as:

  • loyalty
  • putting the needs of others first
  • courage
  • never losing hope or giving up, no matter how impossible something might seem.

You could also talk about your family values in relation to early sexual experiences, drinking, smoking and stealing.