How To Train Your Dragon
Plot Summary: A young Viking, while learning to fight dragons, becomes friends with one and must convince his village that dragons are friendly.
Reason for the Rating: Sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I took my kids to see How to Train Your Dragon. Sure, there have been advertisements for it since the Olympics, but, well, truthfully, I didn't watch them. As all good parents, I was more interested in the Olympics. But with Spring Break and all, off we went to the movies.
How to Train Your Dragon is the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young Viking boy who desperately wants to fight dragons with the rest of his village, but isn't really the dragon fighting type. The other Vikings are all quite burly (including the women, who fight dragons right beside the men), but Hiccup isn't so large, much to the dismay of his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), who just happens to be the Viking chief. The truth be told, he's really rather skinny and smallish. Regardless, Hiccup is determined to fight dragons. So when he is instructed to "stay inside" during a dragon fight, he instead grabs a cannon and runs into the fray. Amazingly enough, he hits a dragon on his first try. And not just any dragon, but a Night Fury, the most elusive of all dragons.
Of course, no one believes him, so Hiccup must track the dragon himself. Upon finding his dragon, Hiccup discovers the dragon still alive. Moved to compassion, Hiccup is unable to kill the dragon, and instead befriends it. This is certainly not what a Viking is bred to do, and not a decision that will bring Hiccup closer to his father. It is at this point that Hiccup realizes just how different he is, and attempts to reconcile his Viking upbringing with what he knows about himself. What ensues is an adventure filled with danger and high-flying action. Quite fun for an animated film.
How to Train Your Dragon is a great movie, not because of the plot and the amazing computer animation, but due to it's heart. It will make you and your kids laugh (which is remarkable in itself), and it will also move you to tears. Who hasn't felt like an outsider at some time? Who hasn't struggled with friendships or family relationships? It's a movie that all of us can connect with on some level, and find meaning in it's themes of acceptance and perspective. It's okay to be different...it brings flavor to the world and allows us to see life from diverse points of view. Let's face it, things aren't always as they seem, and doing things as they've always been done isn't always the best. I mean, the Vikings were at war with the dragons, until Hiccup came along.
Take your younger children to this movie, and enjoy the adventure!
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• What was your favorite part of the movie? Why?
• How are you different from your friends? What is it about you that makes you special?
• Hiccup kept a pretty big secret from his father. Was this okay? Why or why not?
Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios.