Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer Movie Poster Image
Jumbled fantasy story has lots of iffy behavior.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 85 minutes

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Kids say

age 18+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As a mishmash of King Arthur and Harry Potter filtered through the prism of immature middle school kids, puerile humor, and cartoonish adults, there is nothing in the way of positive messages in this one.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Middle schoolers frequently engage in name-calling and bullying. The lead character frequently disobeys his mother's rules and requests, even going so far as to slip a sleeping potion in her coffee so he and his friends can go to a gaming convention. Also, they get to the convention by stealing his mother's car. Earlier, a kid hotwires a van so the kids can make a quick escape from bullies.

Violence

Middle schoolers frequently engage in bullying and name-calling, with no real consequences for the bullying. Bullies throw lit fireworks down an outdoor sewer hole, where the target of their bullying is hiding out. Men dressed in HazMat outfits aim guns at a boy. Some cartoonish violence. A boy hangs by his underwear from a basketball hoop.

Sex

Flirtation and kissing between adult characters.

Language

Name-calling from bullies: "numb nuts," "dweebs," "Queen Arthur," "nerd alert." A boy plays Scrabble with a troll and uses words like "butt," "burp," "wedgie," and "fart," as he explains the concept of farting to the troll. In one scene, a boy says the word "s--t," but it is half-bleeped out.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A boy tells his mother that he and his friends are brewing beer for their science project. A man suggests to a woman a romantic dinner with wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer is a 2010 movie that is a frenetic and confusing mishmash of the legend of King Arthur, Harry Potter, and card game Magic: The Gathering. It's filled with bad behavior from preteens (not "teenage" as the title says) -- bullying, name-calling, vehicle stealing, among other things -- and shows little in the way of consequences for these negative behaviors. With the exception of the main character boy's single mother, adults are cartoonish caricatures. All of this might be forgivable if the movie's story was as fun and lighthearted as the filmmakers seem to want it to be, but the attempted quirkiness of the movie is far outweighed by the negative behaviors of the kids.

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What's the story?

12-year old Arthur is the leader of the "Knights of the Square Table," a collection of middle school outcasts who enjoy pretending they are medieval knights fighting dragons in and around the above-ground sewers outside of their subdivision. This makes them a frequent target of the school bullies, whose leader's mother (Wendie Malick) is the stern authoritarian principal of the school. But one day, while hiding in the sewers from firework-throwing bullies, Arthur meets Bart, a blue-skinned troll with the power to regenerate his body after injury. Bart finds Arthur because he knows Arthur, in spite of his nerdish exterior, is the one boy who can stop Darksmoke the dragon from returning to life, but Arthur must prove to his mother (Lea Thompson) that all of this is real, and, barring that, must find Shane Butler (Eric Lutes) -- the game designer of Elixirquest -- and show him that Bart and the potions they are making are quite real, and that they must stop those who seek to bring Darksmoke back to the earthly realm.

Is it any good?

Part King Arthur, part card game Magic: The Gathering, and part Harry Potter: If ADVENTURES OF A TEENAGE DRAGONSLAYER had picked just one of these to parody, perhaps this would have worked. But, on the other hand, there is so much bullying, disobeying parents, hotwiring vehicles, name-calling, and constant potty humor, even a story that was less of a jumbled mishmash of better-known fantasy stories probably would have worn thin within 15 minutes. The end result is puerile tween behavior and bullying with no consequences for their actions, combined with a confusing mess of a story.

To their credit, Lea Thompson and Wendie Malick make the best of what little they're given -- the former plays a single mom to Arthur, and the latter an over-the-top authoritarian antagonist of a school principal. Nonetheless, their talents fail to overcome the movie's myriad shortcomings. If kids laugh at this one, know that it's for all the wrong reasons.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about the negative behaviors of the kids in this movie. Why are these behaviors negative, and what should have been the consequences for their behavior, had this been "real life?"

  • How does this movie both celebrate and mock fantasy stories and gaming culture?

  • How is bullying treated in this movie?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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