Since the day my father took my brother and me to see Star Wars back in 1976, movies have always held a special place in my heart. That fateful day began a love affair with the big screen that I’ve taken with me well into adulthood. Now that I am a father myself, I’ve been attempting to pass on my fondness for film to my 5-year-old daughter.
The first time I took her to the movies was a little over a year ago, when we saw Frozen together. I remember being worried that she would last about 20 minutes, get an acute case of ants in her pants shortly after the popcorn ran out, start running aimlessly up and down the aisles, and force us to leave so everyone else could actually enjoy the movie. Boy, was I wrong! A little over an hour and a half later, she was still glued to her seat as the ending credits were rolling. The words, “Let it Go” would never be spoken again in our house without thinking about Anna and Elsa, or Indina Medelschnogger. Or, whatever John Travolta called her.
In an attempt to match my movie mania with my affinity for adoption, I have compiled a list of the six best adoption-themed movies. Please keep in mind that these movies are in no particular order; I find it all but impossible to really rate movies as being number one, two, three, and so on. My all-time number one favorite movie seems to change from “Shawshank Redemption” to “The Thing” to “The Princess Bride,” depending on whatever mood I’m in. Therefore, I find it futile and nearly impossible to attach numbers to these. So, here they are in no particular order:
Mr. Peabody and Sherman – Solidly entertaining. This movie explores the oft-misunderstood topic of canines becoming adoptive parents of human children… Actually, Mr. Peabody (the dog) merely represents a single adoptive father, who fought in court for the right to adopt Sherman and has vowed to be the best father he can be ever since.
The adoption premise is further strengthened by the fact that Mr. Peabody himself never had a family of his own, and this stands as perhaps the biggest reason he wanted to provide a great home for Sherman in the first place. Lots of touching family moments, funny interactions, and loving dialogue complement a pretty well done overall movie. My daughter still quotes Leonardo da Vinci from the Mona Lisa scene in this movie. Love it!
Elf – This is just one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. Will Ferrell is “laugh-out-loud” funny at times as Buddy, who sets off to find his birth father, played by James Caan, after being raised as an elf in the North Pole his whole life. Buddy first begins to realize he is different than the other elves mainly because he stands somewhere around six feet tall, while the others… not so much. At its core, the movie packs a nice, little adoption-related reunification theme when Buddy finds his birth father and helps him to become a better person by instilling some of his more carefree and fun-loving values on him.
Together, they find family, love, and the Christmas spirit. If you haven’t seen it, get the DVR ready this Christmas because it’s one of those movies that’s usually played in a continuous loop that time of year.
Annie (2014) – Perhaps the most easily identified and widely known adoption-related movie gets a remake with a few little tweaks to update it here and there for the positively changing adoption landscape of today. This movie gets much kudos for presenting Annie as a strong, brave, resourceful, and intelligent character. It is this type of positive portrayal of a foster kid that would be refreshing to see more of in Hollywood. Now, if they could have only done something a little more desirable with Ms. Hannigan.
Despicable Me 2 – What could turn the cold, dark heart of a ruthless super villain into a sweet, nurturing, and loving family man? Why, the adoption of three adorable, smart, and funny little girls who genuinely love and care about him more than anything else in the world. Positive adoption message aside, there is one more hilariously entertaining reason to see this movie of course: MINIONS!!! I just can’t get enough of those crazy, little, yellow guys.
Juno – Parents: This movie is rated R. Do not bring your young child to see it. They will not understand it, nor will they enjoy it. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s continue. This may actually be my favorite adoption-related movie. It’s a very smartly executed work from the perspective of a birth mother’s selfless and somewhat heroic decision to choose adoption. Every character in this movie is flawed in some major way—mostly harmless, but flawed nonetheless. In the same way that they are flawed, however, they are also marvelously human and endearing in many other ways. Funny, intelligent, and spot-on at times, this movie is worth seeing if you’re looking for adoption related content or if you’re just looking for a good movie in general.
Meet The Robinsons – An adoption-related testament to persistence paying off. The main character, Lewis, lives in an orphanage until the age of 13. Having been through 124 failed interviews with prospective parents that did not work out, Lewis begins to lose faith in ever finding a family. With the help of a supportive role model in Mildred, the orphanage director, Lewis holds on to hope and is eventually adopted by a great family. It’s really a fun movie that doesn’t get as much credit as some of Disney’s other blockbusters. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a try on your next family movie night. You won’t be disappointed.
There are some other really great choices out there for movies that have adoption related material in them like Kung Fu Panda, Big Hero 6, and The Blind Side, just to name a few. Good material for a future article I think. In the meantime, let me know if I’m missing any others.