Complaints lead to rating change from G to PG.
The Classification Office received complaints about the G rating of Happy Feet from members of the public. On 15 January 2007, the Chief Censor directed the Secretary for Internal Affairs to obtain and submit a copy of the film to the Office of Film and Literature Classification to be classified.
This children's film tells the story of an unusual penguin.
Happy Feet is an animated film. Its story centres around a young emperor penguin named Mumble who is different from the rest of his community because they all sing to express themselves and to find a mate while he has a poor singing voice and dances instead. He is shunned and blamed for the lack of fish supplies which threatens the community with starvation. He is driven out by the elders and goes in search of humans whom he believes have found the answer to the food shortage.
Happy Feet was very popular and won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Film. The main characters are voiced by well known Hollywood actors. Like many other children's animated films, the characters are anthropomorphised animals and birds meaning their behaviour, speech, emotions and motivations are all those of humans.
Happy Feet's G rating in New Zealand occurred through the process of cross-rating unrestricted films with the rating given by the Australian Classification Board. However, the film was rated PG in its country of origin and the equivalent of PG in Ontario, Singapore, Switzerland and the Netherlands for its scenes of danger and sexual innuendo.
In deciding to call the film in to be examined by the Classification Office, the Chief Censor stated that:
A member of the public has complained about the film's G rating and absence of descriptive note to the Classification Office. I am consequently concerned that the rating assigned to this film may not accurately reflect its content under New Zealand law.
The Classification Office received two complaints from members of the public who had taken children to see Happy Feet and felt that the G rating was not appropriate as their children were very frightened by the film.
'G' rating it may be, suitable for all ages it most definitely is not. I do not consider my grandchildren overly sensitive kids and have heard from other mothers that they have left the same movie also. Warnings often accompany an adult movie about bad language, sex, violence, etc. I would suggest that some-one needs to have a look at the standard for rating kids movies and whether a warning needs to be attached to some of these for a younger audience.Email from complainant
Going to the cinema is a huge treat in my house, and I am careful to only go to something I am sure is going to be suitable for my son. I therefore rely on the rating system, the previews, the advertising and where possible feedback... all the advertising and previews had led me and my son to believe this would be a fun movie. I feel completely misled and betrayed by the advertising and the 'G' rating applied to this film.Email from complainant
Some scenes are very likely to scare young children.
Two scenes in the film where the main character, Mumble, is threatened, are likely to frighten young children. At one point in the film, Mumble is attacked by a leopard seal who chases him through the water snapping at him with huge jaws full of sharp teeth. Later in the film, killer whales threaten Mumble's life. In the New Zealand Classification Office decision, these scenes are described as:
...two particularly frightening sequences which create the same sudden fright, increase of tension and release of tension in the viewer as can be found in countless horror movies.
Happy Feet has content aimed at an adult audience.
There are several low-level verbal references of a sexual nature. However these are not likely to be understood by young children and are most likely included to help make the film interesting for adults.
There are also images that are frightening and disturbing due to their sudden impact and the threat of violence to central and sympathetic characters. The Classification Office determined that these aspects of the film were likely to disturb and upset very young children.
The Classification Office changed the rating from G to PG.
In its decision, the Classification Office determined that the film was intended for a wide audience and was designed to amuse both adults and children alike. Some of the messages in the feature were likely to be confusing for younger children and may require parental guidance.
The Office classified the film as unrestricted with parental guidance recommended for younger viewers (PG), with the descriptive note 'some scenes may scare very young children'.
RP16: graphic content may disturb.
20th Century Fox Film Distribution disagreed with the 'R16 content that may disturb' classification given to the film by the Classification Office and applied to have the decision reviewed. Find out more about 127 Hours
R13: contains violence, offensive language, drug use, and sex scenes.
Initially classified as R16 due to the violent and sexual material, and the depictions of drug use. On appeal by United Pictures this was reviewed and re-classified by the Board of Review. Find out more about 8 Mile
M: contains content that may disturb.
Originally cross-rated PG, we received complaints from parents that their children were frightened by the film. They asked the Chief Censor for permission to have the film assessed using our criteria. Find out more about A Christmas Carol
M: contains offensive language and sexual references.
This film had received its PG rating through the cross-rating process. After complaints from the public, the Chief Censor called the film in to be classified. Find out more about Land of the Lost
RP13: contains violence, drug use and offensive language.
The unusual RP classification is used where a film presents ideas or issues that could challenge younger viewers but might still be valuable to them if they have support while watching. Find out more about Matariki
R13: contains violence and offensive language (film).
RP16: contains graphic violence (video).
Different versions of the film have different classifications as the law changed between the release of the film and the subsequent video. Find out more about Once Were Warriors
R15: contains violence and content that may disturb.
The film is about the massacre of 13 people at Aramoana - a tragic event in New Zealand's history - and this depiction of real life events required special consideration by the Classification Office. Find out more about Out of the Blue
R16: contains horror scenes and offensive language.
Members of the public complained to the Classification Office about the film's unrestricted M rating. They felt that the film was very frightening and contained extremely disturbing themes. Find out more about Paranormal Activity
R13: contains violence, offensive language and sexual references.
The "highly offensive language, much of it sexual in nature" in the film contributed to the R13 classification, as did the film's "crassly homophobic sentiments". Find out more about Paul
R15: depicts graphic and realistic war scenes.
This film generated much debate and became a benchmark for NZ film classification. It contains depictions of serious physical harm which are lengthy, frequent, and of a very graphic nature. Find out more about Saving Private Ryan
R13: contains violence and offensive language (film).
R16: contains violence, offensive language and content that may disturb (Blu-ray).
The Blu-ray edition has a higher rating as it also includes a short film, Manjha, that has the theme of sexual abuse. Find out more about Slumdog Millionaire
R16: contains horror scenes.
Members of the public raised concerns about the M rating on the film as anyone, including young children, could potentially watch it. They felt an age restriction would be more appropriate. The Chief Censor called it in for examination. Find out more about The Grudge
R15: prolonged sequences of brutal violence, torture and cruelty.
The Office was inundated with letters of complaint and support over its R16 classification, which had included public consultation. On appeal, it was re-classified by the Board of Review. Find out more about The Passion of the Christ
...ends up in an Orwellian nightmare involving scientists and a zoo (the tots at the preview screening went silent, either out of confusion or horror).Josh Larsen, Chicago Sun