Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Adoption Movie Review

Throughout his life, Jake Portman enjoyed hearing his grandfather’s stories. The elderly Abe would tell Jake of his childhood spent at an orphanage designed to protect children with peculiar abilities, and also told him about monsters. Jake believed these stories as a child, but now as a sixteen-year-old, he has started to doubt them. None of his family believe the stories. However, Jake’s psychiatrist Dr. Golan advises Jake and his father to visit the site where his grandfather said the orphanage was. There, Jake learns that there is more to the stories than he believed – and there is some important work for him to do.


As it turns out, peculiar abilities are recessive genetic traits. Jake and his grandfather share the same trait, while none of the rest of the family have – or understand – peculiarities. They are both able to see hollowgasts, terrifying but invisible monsters who prey on peculiar children by eating their eyes. 

Abe has dedicated his life to fighting off hollowgasts, and was ultimately killed by one. Jake found his grandfather dead in the woods, with his eyes removed. Now, Jake discovers the orphanage where his grandfather spent his childhood, and he must take up his grandfather’s work, keeping the hollowgasts from harming the children in the orphanage’s care.

The Adoption Connection

Miss Peregrine runs a home for children with special but odd characteristics which separate them from other people. She fills a motherly role to her charges.

Jake travels abroad the visit the orphanage in which his grandfather was raised, hoping to find answers to his own questions. In that sense, this story reminds me of David Quint’s documentary Father Unknown.

Strong Points

Jake’s grandfather cares deeply about him, and because of one character’s power over time, Jake is able to reconnect with his grandfather, even though his grandfather had died. Several characters act selflessly and bravely to help others.


Jake’s grandfather told him true things which others said were fanciful stories. Abe asserts that he would never lie to Jake, but Jake challenges hi, saying that he did lie.
Eventually, the orphanage is destroyed and the kids who had been safe there must find a new home.
It seems like Jake may have left his parents behind forever in order to follow his grandfather’s mission.  

Miss Peregrine has to be taken from her children; she bids them well, and charges 16-year-old Jake with trying to keep them safe – then she is taken away by a villain.  

Weak Points

There are some nightmarishly scary elements to the film. The hollowgasts are terrifying, and we see them eat at least one character’s eyes out of his head; in another scene, people are sitting at a table, treating human eyeballs as delicacies. A teenager brings inanimate objects to life, only to watch them brutally fight to the death; he also reanimates the body of a teenager who has been killed by a hollowgast. An adult almost kills Jake with an axe. The themes of running, hiding, and being displaced by violent monsters could be triggering for young children or even teenagers who remember being the victims of violence.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children presents a fantasy world in which adults and teens act selflessly and heroically, and there are some worthwhile scenes, but the film has nightmarish villains, grotesque elements, and threats of displacement and violence. Some teens and adults might enjoy this one, but it will not likely be a good choice for kids and teens who have experienced violence or trauma. This one might be best left to older teens and adults.

Questions for Discussion

When have you seen adults acting heroically to help others?

If you could have a peculiarity, what would it be?

If you couldspeak to a loved one who is no longer in your life, who would it be, and what would you tell them? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Storks Adoption Movie Review

Where do babies come from? Well, they used to be manufactured and delivered by a company of storks. For years, families eagerly watched for and greeted these white-winged carriers. It all changed when, for the first time, a stork did not successfully deliver the baby. A story is told that, eighteen years ago, a stork failed to deliver the baby because her beacon broke. It is said that he fell in love with her and tried to keep her for his own. Each baby has a homing device to guide the stork to their intended parents, but this baby’s device was broken. The stork went into exile, and the baby was raised by the storks. They have named her “Orphan Tulip,” although she corrects one of them and says that she would prefer being called just Tulip; “Orphan hurts my heart.” The storks have switched from delivering babies to delivering packages, and Tulip is one of their least successful employees. In order to secure a promotion, Junior has to fire her. He does not have the heart to do it, though; the storks have been Tulip’s family, and getting fired would also mean getting sent away. Junior secretly sends her to work in the vacated mailroom, believing that she will not be able to cause any damage there. However, a letter finds its way to her, and Tulip inadvertently restarts the baby-manufacturing machine. Now, with a baby born, Junior and Tulip set off to deliver it to its new family. Junior knows that if the big boss finds out that Tulip wasn’t fired, or that a baby was made, Junior will not get his promotion.  

Meanwhile, a young boy wishes for a sibling and has to convince his too-busy realtor parents to spend time with him; in catching his excitement for a baby, they also start to appreciate him.


The Adoption Connection

Storks used to deliver babies, but stopped because one stork didn’t deliver his assigned baby to her home. This baby, Tulip, has been raised among storks and now, at age 18, she confides in a friend that she still hopes to find her parents. In fact, she has been working towards finding them for a long time. She’s even built a plane to help her in her quest. When she learns that she can find them, she tells her stork friend, Junior, how happy she is to be able to meet her “real family,” and her choice of words deeply hurts Junior, who expresses that he felt he was part of her real family.

Junior and Tulip must deliver a new baby to its waiting family. The baby was created when a boy wrote to the storks asking for a new sibling, but now the aspiring parents and brother all have gotten excited in the hopes of welcoming their new family member. Junior and Tulip come to love the baby during their journey, suffering through sleepless nights and reveling in her laughter; when they finally arrive at the baby’s home, they hand her over. In a way, they served as foster parents to the baby, keeping her safe until she was able to get to her permanent home.
Tulip eventually meets her biological family. They all look like her, and the family swarms her with a warm group hug. Junior initially stays in the distance, but he is embraced by her family as well.

We also learn that, contrary to the widely-told story, Tulip’s stork has been trying all this time to find a way to get her to her family. He is able to share in her joy as she finally finds her folks.
Tulip seems to love the storks, but also complains that she feels like she does not fit in anywhere. She has bonded with a few other flightless birds in the storks’ headquarters, and together they try to develop a way to fly.

Tulip gives the baby a name, even though Junior initially tells her not to.

Tulip believes that she may have sacrificed her ability to find her parents in order to help the new baby find its parents. She says that if the baby finds its parents, it will have been worth it.

Strong Points

It is easy to name several characters who fell in love with the baby during the course of the movie. It is important for kids to know that they are loved. The film captures the fact that babies are longed for and celebrated, and that kids are worth spending time with.

When Junior understands how important it is to Tulip that she finds her parents, he reassures her that she will find them.


Some kids might be bothered by the thought that a child grew up without her parents simply because she got lost along the way. Later, Junior suggests that he does not need to deliver the baby to her “actual parents” because she’s already found a family that cares about her. He explains that babies “don’t know the difference because they’re dumb.”

The big boss seems uncaring; he speaks of firing Tulip and “liberating” her away from the only family she has ever known.  He also devises a plan to reroute the new baby away from its intended parents, to instead be raised in hiding by some birds; this is to ensure that the storks do not re-enter the baby-delivery business. There is a swerve where, just when it seems that the baby will be delivered to its parents, it is revealed that the abduction plot has been successful. This could be triggering for some kids.

While Junior and Tulip are delivering the new baby, a scary figure lurks in the shadows, repeating “my baby.” It’s intended to be comical, and later we understand that the figure only seemed scary but did not intend harm; but young kids with fears of abduction might find it frightening.  

A pack of wolves briefly intends to eat the baby.
A couple times, comments are made which suggest that babies ruin parents’ lives. The characters are wrong, even within the world of the movie, but kids might catch what the characters say without noticing that the characters are incorrect.


I think Storks is intended to be a light, heartwarming picture about the warmhearted storks who deliver babies to eagerly-waiting parents. The storks lost their vision, but eventually regain it through a serious of mishaps. Most viewers will probably receive it that way. For families that are touched by adoption, though, there are some scenes which could be challenging. A few scenes could trigger fears of abduction, others could brush up against unresolved loss, unanswered questions about families of origin, and confusion about family formation. I do like that Tulip is supported in her desire to find her intended family, and that when she finds them, they embrace her and the stork to whom she is closest. 

Storks is probably a good fit for kids ages 7 and up in most cases, but foster or adoptive parents should watch the movie first, and if you decide to share it with your kids, you might want to talk with your kids about their adoption or foster care story before sharing the film with them. Storks will probably raise some questions that your kids might not know to ask, so parents would also want to take the lead on checking in with their kids post-movie.  

Questions for Discussion

What makes a family, a family?

Do you know the story of how you came to be a part of this family? (How about how each member became a part of the family?)

Have you ever wished for a sibling? What is the best part of having a sibling? What are the hard parts?

What life do you wish for your kids? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Little Prince Adoption Movie Review

A little girl is spending her summer hunched over school books. Her mother wants her to be successful. They have moved to a new neighborhood in order for the little girl to be able to go to a prestigious school. The Mother has scheduled each hour of the Little Girl’s life to ensure that her daughter’s time won’t be wasted, and that her life will be a success.  While The Mother is at work, the Little Girl labors over her lessons, until one day, their eccentric old neighbor, the Aviator, floats the Little Girl a story in a paper airplane.  The Aviator tells the Little Girl fanciful stories of The Little Prince, who lived on an asteroid and loved the solitary rose that grew there. The Little Prince could not meet the rose’s demands, so he left, but always viewed the sky more beautiful knowing the rose was up there. The Little Prince would later take drastic measures to be reunified with the rose, but The Aviator isn’t sure whether it ultimately succeeded.

 When The Aviator falls ill, the Little Girl tries to find the Little Prince, hoping to save the Aviator. She finds that he has lost his sense of childhood. Before the other adults can make the Little Girl give up her childhood in favor of a no-nonsense adult life, the Little Prince remembers himself. The Little Girl takes him back to his asteroid, and then she and her Mother visit The Aviator in the hospital. The Little Girl will be able to go to the prestigious school while still remaining very much her childlike self.

The Adoption Connection

Adoption is not an element of this story. Kids who have experienced neglect prior to coming into foster care might find some similarities to their own experience. The Little Girl alludes to the fact that her father is absent, and her Mother is gone at work for much of the day. The Little Girl is also being led away from childhood in favor of adult responsibilities; older siblings who have experienced neglect sometimes find themselves taking on adult-level responsibilities for their younger brothers and sisters. One of the tasks for these kids once they’re in a safe and nurturing home is to learn how to be a child again. These kids might connect with the Little Girl as a safe neighbor helps her reclaim some of her childhood.  

A fox says something to the Little Prince that seems to mirror the way a family is formed through adoption. The fox says, more or less, “I can’t play with you because I am not tamed. Being tamed means establishing ties. Right now, you’re like a face in a crowd to me, and I am the same to you, but if you tame me, we shall need each other.” The Little Prince has been tamed by his rose (the Aviator tells him, “it is the time you’ve devoted to her that makes her so important.”) Later the Little Girl expresses that she’s been tamed by the Aviator. She is sad to see him in the hospital, and comments “You run the risk of weeping a little if you let yourself get tamed.” 

The word choice sounds a little weird to use between people, but the concept is great – we go from needing a “general” someone to needing a specific Someone. Kids initially need a nurturing parent, but eventually they need You. You feel the need to parent, but eventually you need Your Specific Kids. It works that way with spouses and friends and pets and places; our general, categorical needs are replaced by felt needs for specific people, and somehow, that’s a good thing. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that’s probably described as someone getting their survival and safety needs met and moving on towards getting their love and belonging needs met. All that, from a fox in an animated movie.   
The Aviator suggests that, if you hold people in your heart, you’ve not lost them and you’ll never be lonely.

Strong Points

The Little Girl is able to regain a sense of her childhood and is still able to attend the prestigious school; in fact, her biggest challenge seems to have been the overexertion imposed on her by her well-intentioned Mother. Her Mother is finally able to join her in stargazing.

The film offers a hopeful distinction: growing up is not a problem; the only problem is forgetting.


The Little Girl spends a lot of time with her neighbor, a strange older man, and her Mother does not know about it. He even takes her in his car to get some pancakes before her Mother even knows that the Little Girl has met him. He is a safe person, but in real life, this could be pretty dangerous.
For a moment, it seems as though the Little Prince agrees to be killed in order to regain an aspect of his childhood, but this does not turn out to be true.

When the Little Girl says she has made a friend, the Mother shows little interest, and only comments that, if the Little Girl studies hard, she can see her friend for a half-hour a week, starting next Summer.


The animation in The Little Prince makes it feel friendly for even very young kids, but it seems like it will be best appreciated by kids ages 8 and up. After watching it, families could talk about how families are formed, the importance of getting to be a kid, and the value of memories. This one is worth checking out, and is available streaming on Netflix.

Questions for Discussion

In what ways should being a kid be like being an adult? In what ways should they be different?

What memories do you like best?

What would it be like to live on your own little asteroid?

What does the fox mean when he talks about being “tamed?” What does the Little Girl mean when she talks about it?

How does a family become a family?

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Never-Ending Story Adoption Movie Review

If you remember The NeverEnding Story, you’ve got a chance to share it with your kids, in theaters, for one day, Wednesday September 7, through Fathom Events. Check here to find your nearest participating theater.

The Plot

Bastian is a shy twelve-year-old boy who is bullied each day on his way to school. His home life is sad, too; Bastian recently lost his mother, and in the wake of her death he is daydreaming in class and not participating in extracurricular events. His dad encourages him to move on, saying that although he understands Bastian’s sadness, his mother’s death cannot be an excuse for not getting things done. He encourages Bastian to face the present day rather than immersing himself into his daydreams.

One day, Bastian runs into a bookstore to hide from his bullies. There, he discovers a mysterious book, which the shopkeeper warns him is dangerous. Bastian takes the book and hides in the school attic to read it. In it, Bastian reads the story of Fantasia, a mystical land that is being consumed by a cynical nothingness. We follow along with the young warrior Atreyu as he goes on a quest to find a way to save the young Childlike Empress, so that she can in turn save Fantasia. As Atreyu’s quest goes on, Bastian finds the story to be more than relevant to his own life; it speaks directly to him.

**There are spoilers ahead the rest of the way.**

The Adoption Connection

Bastian has lost his mother. He has not processed this loss, but it seems to be affecting him, as he is not engaging with school or extracurricular activities, and often having dreams about his mother. His father means well, but unhelpfully urges him to put the past away. In reading the mysterious book, Bastian is able to confront his sadness about his mother’s loss; he is encouraged to not give into despair, and he is able to find healing for himself and for Fantasia. Although Bastian’s mom was lost to death, kids in foster care or kids who have been adopted might connect with his sense of loss.

It could be helpful for parents to note that the adults in Bastian’s life – his dad and his teachers – noticed his behaviors: he’s withdrawn and distracted, but they don’t seem to have understood those behaviors as signs of unprocessed grief. Most behaviors make some sense within the context of the person doing the behaviors, and sometimes addressing the context will be more effective than focusing solely on the behaviors.  

Strong Points

Bastian finds healing and bravery in his own imagination, guided by the story contained in the book he finds. Adoption at the Movies is based on the belief that stories can be very helpful for processing heavy real-life themes, and The NeverEnding Story captures that perfectly.

The NeverEnding Story has created a fanciful, memorable and beautiful world.

The film underscores the importance of self-esteem, self-confidence, and not letting sadness turn into despair.

Atreyu finds helpful, safe friends along his journey.  


Bastian’s dad means well but misses the fact that his son is grieving.

Although the film does show the value of self-esteem and the importance of avoiding despair, it is a bit heavy-handed. A man is killed by a Sphinx for not feeling true self-worth, and a beloved character dies when they sink into a sea of sadness.

Weak Points

Some young kids and other sensitive viewers might be troubled by the threat of losing a whole world. 
The responsibility of saving the world appears to fall solely on one young boy, which could be a trigger for kids in foster care who blame themselves for being in the foster care system. Multiple characters lament their own failures with deep sorrow, and we see that this only hurts them.

A terrifying wolf-like creature has been sent to pursue and kill Atreyu.

A horse drowns.

The NeverEnding Story is a special movie, and it was neat to see it on the big screen again. It seems likely to be scary for kids much younger than 7, but could be a special opportunity for you to share a film from your childhood with your kids ages 7-12 or so. The NeverEnding Story can lead to discussions about the fact that people need to process their sadness in order to move on, as well as lighter discussions about movies and stories that have been helpful to you – and even fanciful thoughts about the film’s magical creatures. Best for kids ages 8-12 and their parents.  

Questions for Discussion

What stories have been helpful or very meaningful to you? What stories have you read that reflect your own life in some way? Which stories are your favorites to escape into?

What do you think Bastian needed to do in order to find happiness again? What do you think of the advice his dad tried to give him? Can you just get on with life after something very sad happens, or do you have to process it in one way or another?

When you’re sad, what helps you not sink all the way in?

What was your favorite fanciful character?

If you had a luck dragon, what would you do with it? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings Adoption Movie Review

By Addison Cooper, LCSW

In ancient Japan, young Kubo lives in a hilltop cave with his mother, who is depressed most of the day. While his mother sits in silence, Kubo earns a living by entertaining the villagers with origami and music-aided stories of Hanzo, a brave samurai warrior. In the evenings, Kubo returns home, and his mother – who is much more herself at night – entertains him with stories of Hanzo, who was Kubo’s father. Kubo’s mother cautions him to never be outside after dark, warning him that if he is out after dark, his grandfather and aunts will find him, take his eye, and take him away from his mother. 

One night, Kubo participates in a ceremony intended to help him communicate with his deceased father. This ceremony keeps him out past dark, and sure enough, his aunts find him and try to capture him. His mother fights them off at great sacrifice, and uses magic to send Kubo flying to safety. 

Kubo lands in a mysterious blizzard where a talking monkey explains his situation: Kubo will continue to be chased by his grandfather and his aunts; he must go on a quest to find his father’s armor in order to fight them off.  He is not alone, but is accompanied by the monkey and a large, forgetful beetle-shaped man.

LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY: but if you want to avoid spoilers, in a nutshell: a very engaging story of a kid making peace with his story of loss while also running from some terrifying members of his birth family.

The Adoption Connection

Kubo and the Two Strings will have relevance to many adoptive families, and especially to families who adopted from foster care, if the child has recollections of being abused. In this story, Kubo’s mother is the estranged daughter of the godlike Moon King. He rejected her when she fell in love with Hanzo, a mortal samurai.

Kubo believes that his grandfather and aunts killed his father. They also took one of Kubo’s eyes, and they intend to take the other one; the Moon King believes that if Kubo loses both of his eyes, he will not be able to empathize with humans, and that this will make him more like his cold, distant, immortal family. Kubo’s mother tells him that his aunts and grandfather must never find him, or else they would try to take him away. She’s right; when Kubo’s aunts do find him, they attack, and it’s only the apparent sacrifice of her life that lets Kubo’s mother save him. In a way, she sends him away from herself in order to protect him from her family.

After Kubo escapes his aunts’ first attack, he is aided by a monkey and a beetle; they help him fight against his aunts. Kubo learns that the beetle is his father, and the monkey embodies the spirit of his mother. Kubo is able to share a meal with them, although he did not realize that they were his parents at the time. Both of his parents die while fighting his witch-like aunts, but his aunts are also killed. Kubo must then fight his grandfather. Kubo manages to defeat his grandfather by drawing on the power of the memories of his deceased loved ones; his grandfather does not die, but becomes a confused, elderly mortal. Kubo and others convince him that he is a good, kind man.

As a young child, Kubo had never met his father, but learned of him through stories shared by his mother. He later expresses that memories are a strong force.

I can imagine this film being frightening to kids who have been removed from abusive situations; the theme of being chased by abusive relatives who want to take you away could be too believable for some viewers to enjoy.  Other viewers, who grieve lost relationships or unknown parents, might find comfort in a scene where Kubo unknowingly is able to share a meal with his parents. It is also comforting thought that, even though he thinks his parents are gone, they are still caring for him; and even after they die, his memory of them is able to guide and strengthen him.

This is a very good movie, but it might be too scary for some kids with particular histories. For other, older kids, it could be an interesting invitation to think about how absent or deceased relatives are still positively relevant to them.

Strong Points

Kubo and the Two Strings has created a beautiful stop-motion animation world. A highlight is watching Kubo tell the stories of Hanzo, which he animates with Origami and accompanies with his skillful playing of the shamisen.

The film captures the power of story and memory, and could be comforting for kids who could be elped by developing positive memories of family members with whom they’ve lost contact.
Kubo eventually learns the whole story of his family – how his parents met, and why his maternal relatives are pursuing him. Although it is a frightening story, Kubo finds healing and peace through knowing his story. He is able to make sense of his life, function in the world, and even bring some level of healing and reconciliation to his grandfather.

Kubo asserts that memory is a powerful magic; if he holds his parents in his heart, no one can ever take them away.

Kubo works to develop an honest and livable understanding of his experiences, “It’s a happy story, but it could be happier.” He asks his parents to be with him, and as the film ends, their spirits are standing by him.


It is uncomfortable to see Kubo caring for his mother, who initially appears to be rendered catatonic by depression. This isn’t actually the case, but kids might not catch the nuances that suggest otherwise.

The film questions the definition of family; this could be helpful for some viewers but hard for others. The question posed is: if your relatives act towards you with hate, and intend to harm you, must you still call them family? It’s a hard question without an easy answer.

Kubo uses a lamp-lighting ceremony to try to speak to the spirit of his deceased father; his father does not show respond, and Kubo is enraged. Also, it is in attending this ceremony that he is discovered by his wicked aunts. At one point, it appears that everyone else’s relatives’ spirits have come, and only Kubo has been left alone. This could be hard for kids who have unresolved grief connected to feelings of abandonment.

Although Kubo’s relatives intend him harm, we are given a brief insight into their perspective. His aunts feel that they lost their sister, his mother. His grandfather wants Kubo to be like him, but believes that Kubo must lose part of his human nature to be part of the immortal family. Even though their actions are completely wrong, it is possible to even view them with some level of understanding and compassion. They are frightening, but they are people doing monstrous and evil things rather than purely evil monsters. It may be a slight nuance, but it could be helpful for kids who need to find glimpses of good even in birth family members who have been abusive towards them.
Although Kubo makes peace with it, he does lose his parents when they are killed by his aunts. He intends to kill his grandfather, but ultimately does not have to.

Weak Points

The aunts who pursue Kubo are masked witches, and his grandfather turns into a terrifying monster. 

His aunts and grandfather want to take his eye away from him, and they kill his parents. These elements of the story likely make the film too scary for young kids (and possibly even preteens) with unresolved trauma regarding violence in their families of origin.


Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully animated, deeply emotional story. Kids who have experienced abuse at the hands of birth family members will certainly relate to the story but might find it too intense. Older viewers might find it a helpful tool to explore their mixed feelings towards their families of origin. The film can also be helpful for illustrating the power of memory and the power of stories. Although the film is rated PG, it does seem likely to be pretty scary for kids with certain histories, and I’m more comfortable recommending it for kids ages 11 and up. Parents should research or prescreen the film before sharing it with their kids. However, it is a beautiful film, and certainly worth considering.

Questions for Discussion

What makes someone family? Can anything make somebody “not family?” (It might be helpful to let your child express their thoughts here without leading them to a certain answer.  For kids who have been abused, it might be helpful to suggest that in a way, they themselves get to choose who they define as family. Perhaps it could be helpful even to acknowledge that some people can be (legal or genetic) relatives without feeling like family, and some can feel like family even without being legally or genetically related.)

What are some of your most helpful memories?

If you could share a meal with any two or three people that you do not see often, or that you have never met, who would it be? What do you think it would be like?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Star Trek Beyond Adoption Movie Review

The United Federation of Planets has maintained peace among many species of the galaxy, which has allowed civilization to pursue exploration rather than war. Halfway through their five-year mission to explore space (the final frontier), the crew of the Enterprise is exhausted. Captain Kirk thinks about leaving his ship and applying for a promotion to a desk job; Spock thinks about leaving the ship to pursue other endeavors, and the rest of the crew needs a break. The crew answers a distress call and sets off to rescue a stranded crew, but they are surprised to be attacked by a swarm of small ships led by the mysterious Krall. Krall wants to steal a bioweapon that is aboard the Enterprise, and intends to use it to break up the peace created by the Federation.   **SPOILERS THE REST OF THE WAY**

The Adoption Connection

There is no mention of adoption. There are some aspects of the film that might have tangential relevance to adoption for some families. One alien character seems to take care of another alien character. One character has lost his father and drinks to his memory. The film’s villain became a villain because he believed he had been abandoned. Another character lost her parents when they were killed by the villain.

Strong Points

The films’ heroes are quite brave; they refuse to abandon their crewmates even in the face of great danger. Their actions contrast the villain’s charges against the Federation.

Captain Kirk is frustrated when another person is slow to get behind his plan. Another Enterprise crewmember has the empathy to understand that she has been traumatized by the loss of her parents, and explains this to Captain Kirk.

Kirk is brave, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect the civilians from Krall’s destructive plans.


A woman is disintegrated onscreen by a powerful weapon.

The woman who had lost her parents is threatened by the man who killed them, “You will die here just like your father.”

The villain intends to kill many civilians at a Starfeet base. His motivations are mixed – he wants revenge, and he seems to believe that peace is bad for humanity. Most people in the base he targets will likely interpret his violence as causeless and unprovoked.


There’s quite a bit of action in this movie, and although some characters do talk about their parents that have died and another talks about being abandoned, most young viewers will probably focus on the action. This seems best suited to parents and teens ages 13 and up.

Questions for Discussion

When people are hurt, they sometimes try to hurt other people. What would be other ways for Krall to respond?

Have you ever felt like someone forgot you or left you on your own? When do you feel secure and remembered?

When you become discouraged, how do you decide whether you should continue pursuing your goal or whether you should change your goals?

Which two characters did you think were the bravest?
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