Movie Mom

Movie Mom


How to Train Your Dragon

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
Profanity:Brief schoolyard language, reference to "breastplates"
Nudity/Sex:Kiss
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Fantasy action and violence, characters in peril, scary monsters with lots of teeth, fire-breathing dragons
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters and a strength of the film is the portrayal of three strong, capable, brave, disabled characters
Movie Release Date:March 26, 2010
DVD Release Date:October 12, 2010

The sheer exhilaration of flying along with our hero on the back of his new best friend, a dragon, is exceeded only by the exhilaration of top-notch film-making with a witty and heartwarming script, endearing characters, dazzling visuals, and a story worth cheering for. The movie is in stunning 3D but it is the 4th dimension — heart — where it truly excels.

Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruschel) is a puny misfit in his Viking village of Burke located “north of freezing to death,” where burly warriors battle dragons. His father, Stoick (voice of Gerard Butler), a mountain of a man and the leader of the village, is confused and embarrassed by his son. Because he thinks Hiccup is not strong and brave enough to battle with fire-breathing dragons, Stoick has asked his closest friend Gobber (voice of Craig Ferguson) to take him as an apprentice. Gobber, who lost a hand and a leg to dragons in battle, is now in charge of forging weapons and training the next generation of dragon-fighters.

Hiccup is something of an inventor and when a catapult he designs hits the fiercest and most terrifying breed of dragon, the Night Fury, he cautiously tracks it down. He discovers that it has been wounded and cannot fly. And he discovers that it is not fierce or violent but as scared of him as he is of it. He names the dragon “Toothless” and creates a prosthetic flap for its tail. As they get to know one another, they learn that Toothless can only fly with Hiccup’s help. Meanwhile, Hiccup is accepted into Gobber’s training program. So his days are spent learning to fight many different dragons and his nights are spent learning to tame — and be tamed — by one.

The screenplay by directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders and others is exceptionally literate and witty (Night Furies are described as “the unholy offspring of lightning and death”) and the visuals are intricate and imaginative. The stirring score by John Powell and first-rate voice work by an outstanding cast bring energy and spirit to the story. DeBlois and Sanders make excellent use of the 3D, not just in the soaring and vertiginous flying scenes and the battles but in the use of space and ability to make us feel included in the quietest moments. Those moments have a delicacy, a tenderness, even a grace that gives this film a power that resonates as only the best movies can.



  • Pat Lawrence

    An utterly engaging film,with exquisite animation, a disarmingly charming dragon and memorable characters throughout. Very intense scenes of peril,though; I cried with relief at the end and I’m well over 50.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Oh, Pat, thank you so much! I am thrilled to hear from someone who loved the movie as much as I did!

  • Dennis

    I saw this movie with my 9 year old son and 6 year old daughter and we all loved it. On a scale of 1-10, my son and I give it a 9 1/2. Some of the battle scenes were too scary for my daughter who had to hide her eyes at times.
    What truly made the movie was the connection between Hiccup and Toothless–how they both needed each other, literally and figuratively, to fly.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Dennis! Yes, I agree that it is a bit much for most 6 year olds, though you can tell your daughter I sometimes have to hide my eyes, too. I’m recommending it for 8 and up. But I loved it, as you can see in my review, and I am so happy to hear that you did, too. And I agree entirely that the best thing in the movie is the way Toothless and Hiccup together can be their best and freest selves. Great comment!

  • http://healthysports.weebly.com/ Abbey

    I have heard that How To Train Your Dragon would be a great movie for kids. My nephews have been bugging me to watch it. I’ll probably take them out this weekend. Thanks for the review. :)

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Abbey! Let me know what you think!

  • Catherine

    So I’m 16, went and saw this movie after school and I loved it. Probably bcause I have always liked dragons and reptiles, even when I was a little kid. But it’s one of my favorite movies, and I don’t have many. Maybe two, not including this one. It was really cute. :)

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thank you so much, Catherine! I loved your comment. It’s become one of my favorite movies, too, and I hope to see it again soon.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/2010/03/how-to-train-your-dragon_comments.html Mary

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! It had that “happily ever after” feeling. That said, my almost 7 year old loved it. My 10 year old thought that it was a little corny in the end. I think he was mad because he didn’t pick this movie choice. Graphics are great and it even manages to keep adults entertained.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Mary! Great to hear. And there’s nothing wrong with corny!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-train-your-dragon-movie Movie Treasures By Brenda

    Great quote, “The movie is in stunning 3D but it is the 4th dimension – heart – where it truly excels.” I have shared it on my page about How To Train Your Dragon with a link back to your review.

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