Temple Grandin

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Temple Grandin Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Riveting true story of a young autistic woman's journey.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie sends the message that people with special needs can be highly creative, very bright, and make substantial contributions to the world around them. It also says that having a supportive community of family, friends, and educators is instrumental in developing the strengths of autistic children and adults and that overcoming obstacles and standing up for yourself and your ideals in a positive and consistent way can result in success and significant achievement. Additional themes include compassion, courage, and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Temple Grandin, a young woman with autism, is a powerful role model who's shown to conquer both her own fears and society's ignorance. She succeeds, beyond all expectations, to find her place in the world -- and in doing so makes major changes in the cattle industry's treatment of animals. Teachers and  family members are depicted as sensitive and supportive as they enrich her life and help her reach her full potential.


Some scenes graphically depict cruel treatment of cattle. They're dragged through mud, trapped unwillingly in cages, and forced roughly through narrow spaces on their way to be inoculated and eventually slaughtered. Guts and bull testicles are thrown on the windshield of a car to frighten and discourage Temple. She sometimes has uncontrollable temper tantrums as well as disturbing visions or flashbacks of animals being mistreated and children teasing her relentlessly.


One mention of a possible sexual response to a self-designed "hugging box" that calms Temple when she's upset.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cowboys hold beer bottles in a few scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Temple Grandin is a biopic about a woman with autism. Although it doesn't have much in the way of salty language, sex, drinking, or other strong content, its themes make it more age-appropriate for teens and adults. The film makes an effort to vividly capture the feelings and behavior of its main character -- who is autistic -- as well as the profound effect that her behavior has on her family and community. The movie's most disturbing scenes relate to the treatment of cattle as they're raised and prepared for slaughter: Sequences graphically them being prodded, trapped in tight areas, herded against their will, and dragged squalling through mud. Because some of these incidents are seen from Temple Grandin's heightened perspective, they can appear especially cruel. There are also intermittent flashbacks of kids taunting and laughing at Temple as she grew up and one scene in which mean-spirited cowboys pelt her car with bull innards and testicles.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4, 6, and 8-year-old Written byspoko September 25, 2011

Great movie for kids and up

Not sure why people think this isn't appropriate for kids. My 6 & 8-year-olds loved it. There is one scene where a cow is put down that's prob... Continue reading
Parent Written bykatadams55 August 4, 2011

Awesome! (30 second review)

This title is great for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It's a solid choice. The only real concern is one cuss word. You should definately watch this... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycheese-process March 26, 2011

Great movie for everyone.

Nothing bad in this movie except for some mistreated cattle, but that's all. Don't prevent your kid from seeing this just because it says 14+. If th... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviefan115 April 7, 2012

My mom's new favorite movie

I was born with autism, so watching this movie with my mom was a key moment in our lives. We both connected with Temple Grandin's wonderful life portrayed... Continue reading

What's the story?

TEMPLE GRANDIN (Claire Danes), a young autistic woman, is extraordinarily gifted. She has a remarkable connection to animals and a brilliant mind. This biopic follows Temple from her late teens -- as she struggles with both her own limitations and some narrow-mindedness in the communities around her -- to her startling first accomplishments. With the help of a supportive family (Julia Ormond and Catherine O'Hara in key roles) and one progressive teacher (David Straitharn), Temple tackles misconceptions about her condition, the sexism of mid-20th century America, and the rigid, insensitive methods of the cattle industry.

Is it any good?

This biopic has outstanding performances, a commitment to telling an important and fascinating true story, and fine production values all around.Temple Grandin succeeds on every level and, at the same time, manages to avoid all the cliches, sentimentalism, and often quirky acting associated with many movies about autism and other mental challenges.

Director Mick Jackson and his team use flashbacks, audacious visual effects, and the talents of Danes in the title role to bring the audience into Temple's world as she finds her calling as a game-changing scientist and as she ultimately learns to accept herself as a force of nature.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Temple Grandin teaches us about people with special needs or challenges. Is there anything you learned that might make you more sensitive and helpful when in their company?

  • How does the movie show Temple's special bond with animals?

  • Temple made a big difference in the world. Can you think of others who were able to affect positive change -- in life or in the movies? Do you know anyone in your own world who makes a difference?

  • How do the characters in Temple Grandin demonstrate compassion, courage, and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

Character Strengths

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