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'How to Train Your Dragon' Reaches No. 1 at Box Office

March 29, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

DreamWorks’ computer animated 3-D flick, “How to Train Your Dragon,” was the number one movie for the weekend, with a box-office gross of $43.3 million.

It would have brought in even more revenue but had to share screens with the still running high-profile release, “Alice in Wonderland.”

The Viking-era action adventure features a classic teen outcast theme.

Hiccup, the geeky son of a Viking warrior (voiced by Jay Baruchel), is urged by Stoick, his gargantuan father (voiced by Gerard Butler), to become a dragon slayer in the family tradition.

Hiccup encounters the fiercest of all dragons, but he soon discovers that the breed can be tamed in spite of what everyone has come to believe.

He finds a way to teach the dragon to become a kind of flying horse but must keep his discovery from his dad, friends and Viking community.

Through it all, he has to deal with Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), a girl warrior who stumbles across his secret and must be won over.

There are some typical Hollywood peacenik themes in the movie particularly in the discussions between the Viking dad and son about whether dragons are really enemies or just misunderstood creatures. Some critics are hailing the film for instilling in children the concept of understanding our enemies and not demonizing them.

But the truth is, in watching the flick, kids are so enamored with the 3-D imagery, the politically correct subtext isn’t even noticeable. The focus is more on the teen reject who triumphs, the character’s relationship with his father and the never-gets-old tale of a boy and his pet.

The real message of the film is not to judge by appearances, which is a good axiom for story lovers of all ages to live by.

“Dragon” is one of those movies that families can enjoy together. It combines humor, action and heart-warming scenes that charm young and old.

A tiny note of caution: The movie does contain some darker scenes, which may be disturbing to the more sensitive or very young child, especially in 3-D.

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