So [How to Train Your Dragon 2](movie:44736) did not meet Dreamworks' extremely high expectations. I'm sure many people are absolutely frustrated and baffled as to how such a hyped film could have disappointed. More so is the fact that it was released with barely any other family-friendly releases to compete with. Some blame the marketing, which spoiled what many saw as a massive plot twist.
Well, Hiccup's mother returning is not the only plot twist that occurs in the film. Apparently, during the events of the movie, Toothless gets put under mind control by one of the villains and inadvertently kills Hiccup's father, Stoick. Stoick sacrificing his life to save his son was seen by many as a heartfelt and tragic demonstration of a father's selfless love for his son. For parents however, this was "unnecessary" in a family friendly movie. The following are quotes from commonsensemedia.com, a website that allows users (mainly parents) to review a movie's content so other parents can read up on it:
There were no fewer than 8 little kids crying at the VERY sad parts (a significant and central character is killed off ... Unnecessarily IMHO). The character doesn't just die but is killed by a beloved central character under mind control. The movie is well written but very poignant and full of sad moments and a few frightening scenes, including a close up of a Viking body about to go up in flames on a funeral boat. I did not enjoy it because of this waste of a fabulous character. I don't take my kids to movies to feel sad and morose. my boys,12 and 9, thought the movie was "okay. The fighting scenes and dragon scenes were cool." Disappointed.
We were disappointed as this movie is very intense and sad. My son cried very hard twice during the movie - once during the fighting scene because he was scared. The scenes aren't graphic, but the music and emotion behind them is very strong. He cried again very hard when a main character dies. ... My son said he never wants to see this movie again because he was too scared and too sad.
I had two 6 year olds and a 7 year old in my lap crying during a key scene. SPOILER ALERT Do not read past this if you don't want to know what happens... I am really disappointed at the trend of either killing off parents or having one missing. Not violent enough? Let's put the dad on a boat and burn his body. Geez, really? I've warned my friends not to take sensitive ones to this movie. Not really sure it should be marketed as a kids movie.
So could all of these distraught parents be the reason why How to Train Your Dragon 2 isn't meeting studio expectations? It does seem likely.
Perhaps it isn't just the fact that a parent died, but the fact that he was killed by a beloved character. Perhaps parents are worried that they can't explain to their children that Toothless was acting against his will.
To be honest, that kind of mentality is the reason why the message was watered down in 2012's The Lorax. Parents didn't want to explain who the Once-ler represented, so the movie portrayed him as a hip hero that went down the wrong path and gave the story a clear-cut villain.
It is quite frustrating to see this movie disappoint at the box office, but in all fairness, here's an open call to parents:
If you have children and are concerned about this film, I urge you to still consider seeing it. Sure, your kids may be upset, but it may help them understand heavy topics like death and parenthood. Sure, kids like to be entertained at the movies, but if parents don't take the responsibility to give them good quality entertainment, then they are doing their kids a disservice. So bottom line: keep the kids away from juvenile, toilet-humor filled escapades and let them see something they may end up loving for the rest of their lives.