Friday, March 8, 2013

Adoption Movie Guide: Escape From Planet Earth

Gary and Scorch Supernova are brothers. Scorch is muscular, athletic, and wildly popular. His job as a space ranger earns him fans and endorsement deals. Gary is older, smaller, very smart, and somewhat nerdy. Gary works as Scorch’s mission control specialist. Gary’s son, Kip, looks up to Scorch. Unbeknownst to Gary or Scorch, the leader of the space ranger agency has been conspiring with a military leader from The Dark Planet. Scorch is sent on a mission to the Dark Planet, and Gary goes after him to keep him safe.  Along the way, Gary struggles with resentment over years of feeling treated as “less than” Scorch, but also earns Kip's admiration.

How is This Relevant to Adoption / Foster Care? 
Kids could resonate with Kip, Gary, or with the villain.

Children who have been separated from siblings via foster care may resonate powerfully with Gary. His brother is far away and – for all Gary knows – dead or in danger.  In anger, Gary says that he hopes Scorch “gets stranded,” but then sets off to rescue him. Along the way, Gary struggles with many feelings – anger at his brother over insults of the past, fear at the thought of losing him, guilt over hurtful words said in anger, and a desire to prove himself to be “good enough” to earn admiration from other family members – all of these feelings could be particularly familiar to kids from separated sibling sets.

Kids in foster care might resonate with a scene where Kip sets off on his own in an attempt to rescue Scorch. Although Kip’s parents are making phone calls to try to organize a rescue of Scorch, Kip feels that they are not being proactive enough. Kids in foster care may feel like their parents, their social workers and their foster parents are not doing enough to make sure that their case moves forward.

The villain turned evil because he lost his parents. More on that later.

Strong Points

Gary shows courage in setting off to rescue Scorch. Kip was also prepared to show courage, but Gary went in his place. Many kids in foster care are parentified – they have taken the caring/nurturing role over other children and even, sometimes, over adults. Kip was about to do that for Scorch, but Gary stepped up. That could be a positive model for some children who need to see examples of adults taking responsibility for adult-level roles.


The film’s villain Shanker, (played by William Shatner) has set out on a mission to destroy all “alien” forms of life because his father was accidentally killed by an alien spaceship. This might trouble some children who have lost their parents. The villain’s storyline is briefly explained, and it’s a bit problematic: aliens express that they stayed with him and cared for him for awhile because they felt bad for causing his loss, but then they realized that he wasn’t a good person.  There’s truth here: bad things might happen to you, but you still need to avoid letting them fuel your anger and dictate your actions (See: Meet the Robinsons) – but also make sure that your kids know you’ll never give up on them, even when they do some bad things.

Weak Points

Some scenes could be scary to young viewers: Kip’s mother is briefly in peril. Some characters are frozen in a purple liquid.

Parents and kids over 12 might not find the movie too entertaining.


Escape From Planet Earth is geared at younger kids. For being such a silly movie, though, there are quite a few moments which lend themselves to conversation. It seems more applicable to foster care than to adoption, but it could work for either family circumstance. Recommended for kids (especially those in foster care) ages 5-9, especially those who’ve experienced separation from their siblings or those who have exhibited parentified behaviors.

Questions for Discussion after the movie

Why do you think Gary said, “I hope Scorch gets stranded.”? Do you think he really meant it? Have you ever said something you didn’t mean, and then felt bad about it?

How do you think Gary felt about being so far away from Scorch? Why was he worried about Scorch? What would you do if you were Gary?

Kip was going to go rescue Scorch, but then his dad went instead. Who should have gone? Why? When have you seen kids acting like responsible grown-ups? Have you ever seen grown-ups acting like kids?

Why is Shanker (the villain) so angry and mean?

Which character do you think is most like you?

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You might also like these Adoption Movie Guides of kid-friendly movies:

1 comment:

  1. The story is different, if a little predictable. But it's a kids' movie. Really well-done too. If your kids enjoyed Monsters Inc., Ice Age, or Madagascar, this movie will do the trick. It deserves a sequel.

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