Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Lego Ninjago Movie Adoption Movie Review

Ninjago, a city built of and populated by Lego blocks and figures, is constantly under attack by the evil Lord Garmadon. Garmadon’s son, Lloyd Garmadon, is a high school student who is mocked and scorned by his classmates and his community because his absent father poses a constant threat to the city. His peers do not know that Lloyd is a member of the Secret Ninja Force, which regularly defeats Garmadon.

In an attempt to defeat Garmadon, and perhaps fueled by the pain of his father not even remembering his birthday, Lloyd uses a forbidden weapon which endangers the whole of Ninjago by summoning Meowthra. Now, Lloyd, his evil father, and the rest of the Secret Ninja Force, must work together to find an even stronger weapon. Lloyd and the Ninjas intend to use the stronger weapon to restore peace and safety to Ninjago – but can Lord Garmadon be trusted?


The Adoption Connection

There is no mention of adoption, but there are some aspects that could be relevant to people touched by adoption. Lloyd is separated from his father. The whole community views Lloyd’s father as a villain, and they also treat Lloyd unkindly because of who his father is (a popular song has the lyrics, “Boo Lloyd. His dad is bad and so is he.” Lloyd feels continually rejected by his father, who does not remember Lloyd’s birthday. Lloyd’s father hasn’t seen Lloyd since Lloyd was a baby, and does not recognize the teenage Lloyd, cluelessly saying, “my son is bald and has no teeth.” Lloyd’s father initially explains that he left Lloyd because babies aren’t good for anything. Later, the truth comes out; Lloyd’s father explains that he abandoned Lloyd and his mother because he couldn’t change his villainous ways; he offers to have Lloyd work alongside him in villainy, but Lloyd refuses. Lloyd’s father responds in anger by locking him in a collapsing castle. Eventually, Lloyd is able to forgive his father, and his father moves back in with Lloyd and Lloyd’s mother.

Strong Points

Lloyd’s mother continues to encourage him to not be ashamed of his parentage.

Lloyd’s paternal uncle is a positive, encouraging role model to Lloyd.

There is a cute scene when Lord Garmadon teaches Lloyd how to throw.

Lloyd and his father do reconcile. Lloyd expresses, “I forgive you and I’m sorry for when I said I wish you weren’t my father. I didn’t mean it. Instead I wish we didn’t fight all the time.” Lloyd also acknowledges that his mother has always cared or him, and he apologizes for taking his mother for granted.

Lloyd makes an insightful realization, “I connect my family whether we’re together or not.” He also reflects on his father’s villainy, “My dad is bad, but we’re still family.”


The film captures that high school kids can be pretty mean to each other. Lloyd’s shame, pain, anger, and sense of loss towards his father could be hard for kids who have a distant or absent father, but could also be good invitations to conversation. Lloyd ultimately reconciles with and forgives his father; this could mirror the wishes of kids who’ve lost contact with their fathers which could be a painful reminder of what has not come true for some kids, but could be a helpful picture of resolution for others.  

Kids who are grieving a sense of abandonment, or who blame themselves for not being with their birthfamilies, may have a hard time with Lord Garmadon’s initial explanation of why he left his son, which basically blames Lloyd for being a baby. At one point, Garmadon asks, “How could I ruin your life? I wasn’t even there!” Lloyd responds, “I wish you weren’t my father.”

When Lloyd’s angered use of the forbidden weapon endangers the city, the other Ninjas seem to turn against him, saying, “We were the only people who didn’t hate you. Now we hate you.”

At one point, it looks like Lloyd and his father will be thrown into a volcano by an angry mob. Later it briefly seems that Lord Garmadon has died.

Even late in the movie, Lloyd’s father attempts to abandon him. I am grateful that they do reconcile by the end of the film.


The Lego Ninjago Movie is most likely to be appreciated by kids and tweens. There are some scenes that could be difficult for kids with abandonment issues or unresolved feelings towards an absent father. For those kids, some scenes could be sad or perhaps even triggering, and although the issues are later resolved pretty well, the scenes that could cause problems come quite a bit earlier in the film – Lord Garmadon’s last attempt at abandoning Lloyd comes after they’ve bonded to some extent, so it seems particularly sinister and painful. For kids who aren’t bothered by these aspects of the film, it is a fun, mostly light-hearted story of someone who makes peace with his parentage, acts bravely, is supported all along by some friends and family, and who ultimately forgives and reconciles with an estranged father. It should be OK for kids ages 6 and up, as long as the concerns I’ve raised don’t push the film outside of your family’s comfort level.  

Questions for Discussion

Whose fault was it that Lord Garmadon wasn’t involved in Lloyd’s life? (This is a good opportunity to affirm to kids that the losses they’ve experienced aren’t their fault.)

Why did Lloyd forgive Lord Garmadon? How did he forgive him? How do you think that will change their relationship?

Who in Lloyd’s family was supportive all along? Who supports you?

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