Making the Grades
All of us likely have a blind spot or two when it comes to seeing others or ourselves. And it is no different for Stoick the Vast (voice of Gerard Butler), the beefy, bearded leader of a small Viking village. His son Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel) is a scrawny boy with more brains than brawn. While his size is disappointing enough, Hiccup also appears to be totally useless when it comes to fighting dragons. And slaying the scaly creatures is an important skill for the inhabitants on the Island of Berk. They are constantly attacked by fire-breathing beasts that swoop down and carry off their sheep and any other edible item they can catch.
Determined to find the dragons’ nest and destroy it, Stoick and the other Viking warriors set sail in their ships. Meanwhile, the peg-legged Gobber (voice of Craig Ferguson) agrees to stay back and start training a new generation of dragon slayers, including Hiccup.
In an enclosed instruction ring, Hiccup and the other teenaged trainees—Fishlegs (voice of Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Snotlout (voice of Jonah Hill), the siblings Tuffnut and Ruffnut (voices of T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig) and Astrid (voice of America Ferrera)—come face to face with a variety of the winged animals that are eager to devour the novice warriors.
But before showing up for his first day of class, Hiccup comes across an injured Night Fury, the most elusive and clever of the flying critters. With a little bit of patience, he attempts to tame the stealthy beast. The encounter allows the boy to see the frightening creatures in an entirely new light and gives him some unusual advantages during the teens’ training sessions. However, Hiccup knows his father will be devastated if he fails to kill one of the captured dragons—especially when the whole town turns out to watch the young combatants flaunt their newly acquired fighting techniques.
Like many other parent-teen relationships portrayed in film, the one between Stoick and the motherless Hiccup suffers from some communication problems. Luckily though, the story, based on a book by Cressida Cowell, allows their interactions to happen without a lot of unnecessary attitude issues.
Although the script contains only a smattering of mild language concerns, some moments of peril may be unsettling to younger viewers, especially when a swarm of dragons descends on the tiny town and starts the homes on fire. Some of the townsfolk are injured during the kafuffle. Others experience scary moments during training exercises, and several scenes of weapon and hand-to-hand violence are shown as well.
Still How To Train Your Dragon is a delightful story about learning to see things from another being’s perspective. Once the characters in this film are willing to remove the scales from their eyes, they can discard their old traditions and enjoy a whole new high-flying approach to life.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about How To Train Your Dragon.
Why do Stoick and Hiccup have such a difficult time communicating? How does that impact their ability to see one another’s point of view?
Does understanding another person’s motivation make it easier to appreciate their choices or decisions?
How To Train Your Dragon is based on a book by Cressida Cowell.