Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
voices of… Jay Baruchel (Hiccup)
Gerard Butler (Stoick)
America Ferrera (Astrid)
Jonah Hill (Snotlout)
Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs)
T.J. Miller (Tuffnut)
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Mad Hatter Entertainment
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Based on the 2004 book by Cressida Cowell, “How To Train Your Dragon” drops us into a Viking community which is and appears to have always been at war with a horde of dragons. Life in this village centers around this war, and fear and hatred for dragons is promoted for survival.
As with most communities, however, there is one unlike the rest, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the peculiar son of the tribe chief, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), is always out of sync, in the way, and a great disappointment and embarrassment to his father and the rest of the village.
After befriending a rare dragon Hiccup names “Toothless,” he starts to realize who he is as he finds his place in the world while discovering that reality is much different from the assumptions of his people. Eventually he must present this truth to others, even though he knows how much it will hurt his father, who doesn’t understand or listen to him to begin with.
I found “How To Train Your Dragon” to be charmingly endearing. While initially frightful, Toothless turns out to be as a beloved pet, much like one of my dogs with the appearance of a cat. And likewise, the first scene is dark and foreboding, but we find that the negative beliefs of the people have shaped an attitude that has caused this darkness in which they live and with positive change light rises over the course of the film.
“… on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matt 4:16)
Other life lessons, including loyalty and teamwork, importance of community and family are poignantly presented (Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.), and I much appreciated that the relationship between father and son was given highest importance and respect. I am reminded that even though our Earthly fathers may fail us, we have God our Father who never will never leave us nor forsake us (Deu. 31:6), who delights in us (Prov. 3:12 and Psa 147:11) and cherishes our oddities, as He made us each unique (Psa. 139:13-14).
There is quite a bit of violence and violent speech which may frighten younger viewers, note that while technically violent, it is not gory. Various types of dragons burning down villages, snatching sheep, fighting, cartoonish pictures of cut off heads, lost limbs (not graphic), regurgitated, half-eaten fish and quite a bit of dialogue about killing, including various ways dragons kill people and people kill dragons, an instance where Hiccup says he is going to cut out a dragon’s heart and take it to his father and Astrid, offended by a boy, hits him over the head with a shield and tells him that it now has blood on it. Skulls adorn some clothing. There are a couple of references to Norse gods, including “the gods hate me,” but the subject is not pursued. The dragon is referred to as “devil” (in a general sense, not as the actual devil).
In one scene Astrid lands on top of Hiccup and a comment is made about “love on the battlefield.” There are two scenes of kissing, one on the cheek and one on the lips. Hiccup is given a helmet which turns out to be half of his late mother’s breastplate, the other half used as a helmet for his father. Hiccup thanks his father for the “breast hat.”
Language is mainly restricted to name calling, such as “son of a half-troll,” one instance of h*ll and b*tt.
Hiccup eventually learns to be true to himself, even knowing he stands alone. He builds confidence as he learns and then applies his knowledge. Despite feeling helpless at times and at times making the wrong decisions, he always tries to do what is right. He and Toothless are loyal friends, displaying not only teamwork, but the necessity of it and our dependence on one another. Commitment to and importance of community is also apparent. His relationship with his father is most important, and it is mainly out of honor and love for his father that his bad decisions, secretive actions stem. Reconciliation and forgiveness wrap up this tale with classic warm and fuzziness.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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