What do Chicken Little, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and How to Slay your Dragon have in common? Well, you could apply this paragraph which I tweaked very slightly from the Movie Review in the NYTimes.com by A.O. Scott on How to Train Your Dragon and use it for all three movies:
The hero is a misfit adolescent who proves his mettle, pleases his hard-to-please father and saves the world while learning important lessons and rattling off some wisecracks. Supporting characters include a spitfire love interest, a gaggle of goofy friends and a cute nonhuman sidekick.
(Ok, everyone is non-human in Chicken Little, but there is still the sidekick.)
There’s other similarities: there is no mother, the father is big and gruff and has a hard time with emotions and is ashamed of his son, and the son has a secret. The films are so similar I looked them up on imdb.com to see if they came from the same studio or same writers, but they don’t.
I liked all three films, as did my son. But I think there are better ways to show father-son relationships, and I hope they show them in upcoming animated films. At least these fathers aren’t the hopeless inept fathers I see so often on TV shows. Still.