Story

Esther Blueburger (Danielle Catanzariti) is a non-conformist 13-year-old, in a very conservative private girls school. She spends most of her free time alone, watching the other girls. On her way home from school one day, she stops to watch a rock band practising in a club and she befriends the drummer, a girl called Sunni (Keisha Castle-Hughes). Sunni is cool and hip and takes a liking to Esther because she sees something different about her. Together they hatch a plot to get Esther to attend Sunni’s public school without telling Esther’s parents.

Esther ‘joins’ Sunni’s group, the ‘Lion-pits’ but finds she has to go to extreme lengths to prove that she fits in. Esther takes warmly to Sunni’s mum, Mary (Toni Collette), who is more of a friend to Sunni than a mother, and works at night as a pole dancer. Esther sees the relationship as quite different from her own relationship with her mother Grace (Essie Davis), who is a career woman with little time for Esther.

As a Jewish girl, Esther has a combined bar/bat-mitzvah with her twin brother Jacob (Christian Byers). None of her private school friends attend, but much to Esther’s mother’s displeasure, Sunni turns up uninvited. At the ceremony, Esther’s Dad gives a speech in which he says he hopes that the twins will always land on the right side. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for Esther, as she manages to complicate her life considerably. But she learns many important life lessons along the road to finding her identity and where she fits in.

Themes

Coming of age; finding your identity

Violence

  • Girls are teased at school.
  • Girls throw things at Esther.
  • Jacob pours a bucket of water over Esther.
  • Esther squirts a girl with juice.
  • Esther attacks a girl and steals her raincoat.
  • Esther has an argument with her mother, who slaps her across the face.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • Esther takes a duckling home from school and it follows her everywhere. Later she’s horrified to find that her duckling has been killed and de-feathered for her biology lesson. This is quite distressing.
  • Esther buries the duckling.
  • Mary is killed in a motorbike accident – not actually shown – but Sunni is naturally very upset.
  • Jacob jokes about killing his mother and father with an axe.

From 8-13

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

Over 13

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

Sexual references

  • Esther is shown with blood running down her leg and goes to buy some tampons from a machine.
  • Mary tells Esther that she ran away from home because she was pregnant with Sunni.
  • Esther and her ‘Lion pit’ friends practise kissing with boys. A boy asks if he can touch her boobs – she says no.
  • Esther asks her mother at what age she lost her virginity.
  • Esther and her friends talk about when they’re going to lose their virginity. One says she doesn’t want to be a 14-year-old virgin.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

  • There are scenes showing drinking at home.
  • Esther and Sunni drink champagne.
  • Sunni tells a lady that her parents deal in drugs.
  • Esther and her friends drink out of a bottle.
  • Sunni smokes.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Esther and her friends decide to experiment with sex with a boy. Nothing is actually shown, but Esther finishes ‘her turn’ and asks ‘who’s next?’
  • Mary is shown pole dancing in bra and knickers.

Product placement

None

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild to medium-level coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Hey Hey it’s Esther Blueburger is a coming-of-age comedy aimed at adolescents. It was filmed in South Australia. Although the film could have benefitted from omitting some unpleasant scenes, it has a strong message. This is that you don’t need to conform to gain acceptance. Another strong message is that it’s not cool to hurt someone else.

You could discuss these values with your child as well as how your family deals with the following attitudes and behaviours:

  • the real-life consequences of doing things that you generally object to but do anyway to impress others
  • dealing with bullying and harassment
  • the value of being honest and talking to your parents rather than doing things behind their back and lying to them
  • the real-life consequences of experimenting with sex.