How to Train Your Dragon: a Recommendation from Steve

This is going to seem like a tepid recommendation, but it is more than that.  I avoided this movie when it was in theaters for a number of reasons.  I’m not a big fan of dragons and obviously this movie would have its fair share of the critters.  I thought that the scenes depicting riding dragons in flight would remind me too much of the banshee scenes in Avatar and I’m not a big fan of that movie, either.  The trailers didn’t generate much interest on my part.  It looked like the plot was one that I’ve seen many times before.  It turns out that all of those things are true, and yet I still give it a hearty recommendation.  It is not a “must see” as the DVD cover claims, but it is definitely worth your time.

I finally decided to see it because it was one of only three animated films nominated for an Oscar, so I figured it must have something going for it, and because my son wanted to see it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, the plot is filled with elements we’ve all seen many times before.  For starters, it is about a boy who doesn’t fit in.  In this case, the misfit is a young teen-aged boy with the strange name of Hiccup.  He is a Viking, in fact the chief’s son, but he is not big and burly like a Viking is supposed to be.  He is clever and creative, but these are not gifts that valued by his father or the other villagers in their relentless fight against the dragons.  Hiccup hopes that he can find a way to kill a dragon to prove his worth to the community, which leads to obvious plot point, number two.  Rather than killing a dragon, Hiccup ends up befriending one.  In so doing, he discovers that dragons are not an evil enemy (despite the fact that they still the village’s food and burn down numerous buildings), but rather that they are misunderstood just like he is.  For obvious plot point three, add a girl to the mix, a girl Hiccup really likes, but who thinks that he is a loser.  Can you guess how that will turn out?  Of course, you can!

Why do writers keep using these same themes?  Because they work!  And this movie worked for me.  I know there are many of us who understand what it feels like to be a misfit.  This movie provides another opportunity for parents to talk with their kids about how all of God’s children (and other critters, too) are unique gifts to the world.  In addition, you can discuss the joy we feel when enemies become friends and when the guy and girl end up together.  Yep, it was an obvious happy ending and I had tears rolling down my cheeks!  In my movie world that is reason enough for a recommendation.