It is a running joke in our house with our two adopted boys – that 9 out of 10 films we will go and see at the cinema feature a kid who has been orphaned, separated from birth parents or some how has a very awful relationship with their parents in some way.

So having recently gone to see Cruella at the cinema, we were very excited for it to be our first trip to the movies for over a year, we almost forgot that there could be the possibility of parent abandonment, adoption or other such story lines. I have to admit – we weren’t prepared and hadn’t done our research, and oh boy is this film giving all the feels, on so many levels.

I’d like to preface the following information by saying that we all thought it was a great movie, brilliant costumes, cast etc… it was an 8 out 10 from the four of us… However as a parent I felt really conflicted about the story line and some of the scripting/terminology used and just generally had a bit of a sigh that it was yet another film where a parent dies, kid becomes orphan etc. However there are some twists and I don’t want to completely ruin the plot surprises for people. 

The movie handles issues such as loss, abandonment, and genetic inheritance of personality traits and more, in quite an emotive and full frontal way. I think it could easily be quite triggering for some young people and my youngest (aged 11 and a half) was noticeably squirming in his seat and scooched in for a cuddle and comforting at the point where Cruella was expressing her distress about “not being as bad as her birth mother.” And that she still loved her real (adoptive) mother etc.

The movie is a 12A and this is probably because of some of the action scenes and violence, and some use of stronger language. It also has scenes of murder and baby rejection/abandonment too. I would say that for children like ours I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for children younger than 10 and particularly if your child is struggling with their life-story, identity or thinking about ties and relationships with birth family members too much. 

Let’s add this film to the looooong list of Disney movies (and others as well as Disney) where the writers, directors and producers seem to think that the only way to make a successful film is to plunge a child in to a life of trauma and turmoil, parentless-ness, abandonment, rejection or other strife….

In summary – 8 out of 10 – good film, but definitely could be triggering for many younger children and would likely open the door to deep and meaningful conversations.

Author: Rob Langley-Swain, Director of Membership, Adoption UK