Story

The slightly eccentric but charming Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) once broke the land speed record on an Indian Twin Scout motorcycle. Despite his age (late sixties) and racing accomplishments in New Zealand and Australia, he still dreams of breaking the world land speed record again. From his dilapidated garage in Invercargill, New Zealand, and with the help of his young neighbour, Tommy Jackson (Aaron Murphy), Burt modifies his motorbike. He makes some personal sacrifices and ignores his increasing health problems to raise the necessary funds to get to the 1967 Bonneville Salt Flats Speedmeet in Utah, USA.

Burt eventually makes his odyssey to Los Angeles and then cross-country to Utah. He befriends and charms an assortment of characters on his journey, but remains single-minded in his purpose to race. After finally reaching Utah, Burt faces a series of unexpected obstacles. His dream of 25 years to race for the world record seems lost. Burt relies on his determination, charm and the support of new-found friends to overcome these final hurdles.

Themes

None of concern

Violence

There are no significant violent scenes in this movie. But there is one scene in which two angry drivers in Los Angeles honk at each other and then deliberately drive back and forth into each other. No-one is hurt.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • Menacing bikers show up at a fundraiser for Burt. They push and shove some of the guests, laugh at Burt’s motorcycle and challenge him to a race.
  • Burt is shown to be in pain during an episode of angina.
  • When he arrives in Los Angeles, Burt travels with a surly taxi driver, has money taken from him by a girl selling flowers and is approached by a prostitute. He appears vulnerable and lost during these interactions.
  • Burt is attacked (but not hurt) by a rattle snake.
  • During the final race, Burt’s leg gets burnt, his goggles fly off in the wind and his bike crashes. For a few brief moments, he doesn’t move.

From 8-13

Many children in this age group could also be concerned by the scenes described above.

Over 13

Children over the age of 13 will probably be OK with this movie, although the scene of the final race could concern some.

Sexual references

  • Burt’s motel in Los Angeles is in a area where prostitutes live. One character is a transvestite.
  • A prostitute propositions Burt.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There are several scenes in which people are shown to be drinking or smoking. Burt takes a strong stand against smoking. He say many times that smoking is bad for you and that he himself never smokes or drinks.

Nudity and sexual activity

Burt is shown waking up in bed with two different women during the movie. On one occasion, the woman’s bare torso is shown from the back. On the second occasion, Burt has a sore back and exclaims, ‘What have you done to me!’

Product placement

Except for the Indian Twin Scout motorbike, there is no product placement in this movie.

Coarse language

This movie contains frequent mild to medium-level coarse language, particularly in the second half.

Ideas to discuss with your children

This true story of New Zealander Burt Munro is the gentle telling of a man’s attempt to fulfil a dream. Its main theme is racing and fast cars. The races are shown in an exciting way. But the movie moves at a slow pace, and some children could find some parts of the storyline difficult to follow. Adults might enjoy the recreation of the late 60s in New Zealand and the US. Also, the characters Burt meets along the way are engaging.

The movie presents ideas about taking risks, and it explores the notion that age is no barrier to chasing your dreams. It also suggests that determination helps you face obstacles and put-downs. You could discuss these ideas as well as the values presented in the movie:

  • endurance through adversity
  • being yourself and standing up for your beliefs (not smoking, not drinking)
  • believing in yourself
  • accepting people for who they are.

Some of Burt’s unsafe practices while racing (he lacks funds to purchase proper safety gear) could be a prompt for you to discuss road safety with your child. On a deeper issue, you could talk about how selfishness sometimes goes hand in hand with single-mindedness.