There are many reasons to like the work of Steven D. Greydanus, film critic for the National Catholic Register, DecentFilms.com and various other outlets. For me, one of the most enjoyable is his ability to take two contemporaneous movies and set up a dialectic between them, noting the various things they have in common or, alternatively, the radically different approaches they sometimes take to the same basic premises.
I first remember seeing him do this back in 2003, when he compared and contrasted The Fighting Temptations and The School of Rock, noting how the film that was marketed to churches at that time was not the film that espoused the better values, for lack of a better word. More recently, in his review of 2012, he compared and contrasted the filmographies of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich going back to the mid-1990s.And now he’s done it again, with a fascinating piece on “Junior Knows Best” movies such as How to Train Your Dragon and The Secret of Kells, both of which are currently in theatres, at least south of the border. He also finds a way to bring Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, possibly my favorite animated film last year, into the picture as a sort of counterpoint. Check it out.
P.S.: The promo screening for How to Train Your Dragon marked the first time I took one of my kids to a sneak preview. (They have seen several movies at the neighbourhood theatres, but until now, none of them had never seen their dad “at work”, as it were.) And for the record, my four-year-old daughter loved the film and has been drawing pictures of fire-breathing dragons ever since.