A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that DreamWorks Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury is a holiday short film that follows How to Train Your Dragon, so knowing the story behind the characters' relationships will help you jump into this one. There's some marginal language (a girl calls her brother an "idiot," and "stupid" is used a couple of times), exploding houses, and mild gross-out humor that's bound to delight kids, but these make less of an impression than do the meaningful themes about family relationships, friendship, and the joy of giving. Because the story centers on a fictional Viking holiday, it welcomes viewers of all beliefs and cultures.
What's the story?
It's the holiday season in the Viking village of Berk, and all of the residents are busy decking the halls for the annual celebration when without warning all of the dragons take to the air and disappear. All except Toothless, that is, whose prosthetic tail keeps him grounded without the help of his human, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel). Seeing this, Hiccup invents one that gives his best friend the freedom to fly unaided, and Toothless takes to flight as well, leaving Hiccup and his friends at a loss for why they've left or if they'll return. But when a straggler inadvertently takes Hiccup along for the migration, he learns that there just might be hope for a joyful holiday reunion after all.
Is it any good?
DREAMWORKS DRAGONS: GIFT OF THE NIGHT FURY will hit the spot this holiday season with fans of the popular feature-length movie. It's short and sweet at just 30 minutes long, but it fills that half-hour with humor, adventure, and plenty of messages about appreciating the non-commercial gifts of the holidays. As in the original, Toothless and Hiccup's sweet relationship takes center stage, with each one acting out of selfless affection for the other in a way that beautifully illustrates this season's often-overlooked joys. Families will also enjoy how the story incorporates familiar holiday traditions with a Viking spin into the plot.
Because this short film moves at such a quick pace to accommodate the short time frame, young kids might have a hard time following the plot. What's more, it assumes viewers know the story behind the characters' relationships, so if you haven't seen the original, you might not grasp all of the nuances among the cast of dragons and humans. But none of this dampens the story's touching sentiments or cancels out the great writing and family friendly humor that marks this fun holiday film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their holiday traditions. What are your favorite ways to celebrate the season? How do family and friends factor into these traditions? How do they reflect your faith or culture? What role does the media play in these traditions?
Kids: What gifts did Toothless and Hiccup give to each other? How did each one show how much the giver cares about his friend? What gifts can you give to others that don't require money?
Families can talk about how the characters have evolved since the original movie. How has Hiccup's relationship with his father changed? In what ways is it better? Do the kids get along well now? How has having the dragons around improved their lives? What do they learn from each other?
- On DVD or streaming: November 15, 2011
- Cast: America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Jay Baruchel
- Director: Tom Owens
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Holidays
- Run time: 22 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 24, 2019
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