Bottom line: How to Train Your Dragon surprises audiences with an action-packed story and an unexpected twist. Young children may be frightened by frequent perilous situations involving fights with fire-breathing and other types of dragons.MPAA Rating: PG, for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
Guide Age Recommendation: 6+
Runtime: 98 minutes
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig
Release Date: March 26, 2010 (conventional 3D theaters and IMAX 3D)
How to Train Your Dragon - Overview
Hiccup is a young Viking who aspires to be what every young Viking aspires to be: a great dragon killer. Vikings and dragons have been battling for hundreds of years, and Chief Stoick the Vast, Hiccup's father, is determined to be the Viking to find the dragon nest and settle the score for good. But, as hard as our hapless hero Hiccup tries to live up to his father's standards and become the greatest dragon killer ever, he seems absolutely doomed to failure.
Gobber, the Dragon Training teacher, reluctantly agrees to allow the accident prone Hiccup to enter Dragon Training with his peers, but no one is excited to have him in class. Then, when Hiccup actually kills a dragon -- not just any dragon, a mysterious and deadly Night Fury -- he knows his luck is about to change. The trouble is, when he tracks the dreaded dragon down, Hiccup sees that it is still alive, and he is unable to finish the job.
Instead, Hiccup names the dragon Toothless, and they actually become friends. Hiccup soon realizes that everything the Vikings have known about dragons is wrong. If he could only make the others see, they could avoid all of the fighting and bloodshed. But instead, his findings only incite a deadlier battle -- one which the Vikings will not win if they don't stop and listen to Hiccup and the rest of his rising generation.
How to Train Your Dragon - Guide Review for Parents
An action-packed, high flying adventure, How to Train Your Dragon is full of fire-breathing fun for families. For those who have read the book, the movie is completely different, and it had to be. The book just didn't have enough meat for a movie, but directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who also wrote the screenplay, took the original concept to a whole new level with an exciting storyline and supreme animation.
Now, parents should know that, included in the action is a heavy amount of cartoon violence involving large and small-scale battles with fire-breathing and other deadly types of dragons. To Vikings "killing a dragon is everything." Young children may be frightened by the dragons and frequent situations of peril that our Viking friends find themselves in. But, though it's true that some of the battle scenes are intense, they are often injected with a good dose of humor to offset the scary predicaments.
The movie also contains some mild language and a few rude comments. Some characters tease or belittle others, and some characters have injuries that could possibly be disturbing to young kids. One Viking brags about how he lost his hand and leg fighting dragons, for example, and an unexpected injury occurs in the movie that could be confusing or upsetting to young children. For a more detailed look at possibly scary or offensive material in the movie, please see the "content overview" below.
How to Train Your Dragon - Content Overview*May contain spoilers.
- Violence (High): Violence in How to Train Your Dragon is mainly dragon vs. Viking. While there are some very intense scenes involving large fires, dragons bombarding the Vikings, and Vikings running around trying to shoot at and kill any dragon they can, there is also a lot of humor to lighten the mood, and the dragons are animated in a cartoonish way that might be terrifying to very young children, but not as likely to be too scary for school-age kids (see this dragon photo for an example). Vikings talk a lot about killing dragons, and Dragon Training is all about learning to kill dragons, which results in some trainees getting caught in very perilous situations. Some characters have actually lost limbs in dragon fights and have wooden replacement limbs.
Scary Scenes (High): Scenes listed under "Violence" may be frightening to young kids. Perilous scenes involving dragons and Vikings occur throughout the movie and could be scary for kids. Kids may be worried for the lives of the Viking heroes, or for Toothless, the dragon that Hiccup befriends and comes to love, when he is put in danger.
- Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Extreme): Hiccup is sad that his dad has no faith in him and at one point basically disowns him. Toothless is injured and tied up at one point, which may be upsetting to kids. Most notably, Hiccup suffers an injury that is not usually seen in animated movies, and while the characters take it well and there is not a ton of emotion over it, kids may be shocked or unsettled.
- Sex/Nudity (Low): A couple of kisses occur in the movie. A joke is made that Hiccup's helmet is made from half of his late mother's breast plate.
- Drugs and Alcohol (None): Vikings do drink something that could be perceived as alcohol, but it is not pointed out as such.
- Profanity (Low): The word "hell" is used. A few rude words like "butt" and "idiot" are used.
- Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (High): Viking kids taunt and tease each other and use a few colorful phrases. Kids my want to imitate fighting with dragons like the Vikings do. Hiccup and his father argue quite a bit throughout the movie, and Hiccup sneaks away from his teacher and peers to visit Toothless.
How to Train Your Dragon Topics to Discuss
- After seeing How to Train Your Dragon, kids may have questions about: loosing a limb, dragons and the killing of dragons, Vikings, losing a parent, Hiccup's dad disowning him for not conforming to Viking ways.