T.S. Spivet (Kyle Catlett) is the title character of The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. He’s a 10-year-old child prodigy with a passion for cartography, scientific observation and invention. T.S. lives on a range in Montana with his entomologist mother, Dr Clair (Helena Bonham Carter), his father (Callum Keith Rennie), who dreams of being a cowboy, and his teenage sister, Gracie (Niamh Wilson), who wants to become Miss America.
T.S.’s twin brother Layton (Jakob Davies) has died in a shooting accident involving T.S. Although the entire family is grieving, nobody talks about the accident and T.S. is very distressed. He blames himself for the accident and has imaginary visits from his dead brother.
One day after attending a lecture on perpetual motion, T.S. decides to invent a perpetual motion machine and submits his blueprints to the Smithsonian. Sometime later, he gets a call from G.H. Jibsen (Judy Davis) from the museum who, believing T.S. to be an adult, informs him that he has won a prestigious award for his machine. Miss Jibsen invites T.S. to Washington to accept the award and give a speech.
Without telling his family, T.S. packs a suitcase and sets off on an eventful journey to Washington D.C.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet has scenes related to the accidental gun death of a young child. It also has action and peril involving young children, and scenes that show injury to animals, including some blood and gore. For example:
- A young boy fires a rifle at a cat with a tin can tied to its tail. The cat runs away with the tin can dragging behind it.
- A flashback scene shows a barn. There is the sound of a gunshot and a bright flash from the barn. Then we hear a monologue about how a young boy died.
- A married couple has a heated argument, shouting at each other.
- A truck driver tells T.S. that he joined the army to ‘meet interesting people and kill them’.
- A woman slaps another woman hard across the face. A man punches a second man in the face and knocks him to the ground.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet has some sexual references. For example:
- A woman talks about the objectification of women in beauty pageants.
- A young boy says, ‘If you make a baby, it means you love each other’.
- After being teased at school, a young boy asks his mother if she has AIDS.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet shows some use of substances. For example:
- Scenes show a man sitting in a lounge chair sipping whisky from a glass. T.S. says his father takes a sip of whisky from his glass every 45 seconds.
- A woman drinks champagne from a glass and is later seen slurring her words and acting abusively.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet shows some US fast food brands.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet contains coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is an adventure drama suited to older adolescent and adult audiences. On the surface it’s about a young boy’s lone journey across the US, but it’s also a story about facing emotional demons and a child’s desire for his parents’ love and respect. The movie is thought-provoking and at times emotionally intense, although with a quirky whimsical feel.
It contains violence, disturbing themes and scenes, and coarse language. This makes it unsuitable for children and tweens, and we strongly recommend parental guidance for younger teenagers.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Parental love and respect is crucial to a child’s health, happiness and wellbeing.
- Self-blame is destructive and debilitating.