Dear Traumatized Youth:
I open my arms and my heart to you, sweet summer child. You went to a movie with your parents hoping for your eyes to be opened to the infinite possibilities of the universe, and instead your youthful heart was shattered, your eternal soul made aware of the cruelty of the world and those within it, when How to Train Your Dragon 2 had the gall to kill off Hiccup’s father, Scottish Viking Stoick.
I mean, what the hell, amirite? First Hiccup gets his leg lopped off, and now his dad dies?! On Father’s Day weekend?! What’ll happen in the third one? Perhaps there’s fatal disease lurking in the wings for Hiccup to remind you that not only will your parents die, but that you, yourself, will shuffle off this mortal coil… perhaps sooner rather than later.
Young one, I feel your pain. I myself have never quite shaken off the profound emotional impact of the reunion scene in Homeward Bound or the terror of watching Field of Dreams while hiding behind a throw pillow. (Ghost baseball players. That ain’t right. What are the existential implications of that?! I’m still terrified.) Let’s not even talk about Toy Story 3, or the fucking Peter Lorre lamp from The Brave Little Toaster. I understand why you crawled into your father’s lap during Stoick’s funeral scene, why you found yourself unable to face the maw of death on your own. Children’s movies are filled with dead parents—rare is it to find a nuclear family in the classics you no doubt have been raised on—but you tend not to see them die, and nothing, nothing could have prepared you for having to see a crying, emotionally shattered Hiccup eulogizing his fallen father.
Will you ever recover from the blow this sadistic movie has dealt you? No. You may think you will—you may think, ten, twenty, thirty years down the line, when you have children of your own—that the dread specter of How to Train Your Dragon 2 (which is a very good film despite the psyche-altering horror) has left you. You will wake up in the night, shaking and drenched and sweaty as the vision of your father being murdered by the family cat slowly sinks back into your subconscious, and you will know it is not so.
You will live with it. We all have to live with it.
Just don’t watch The Iron Giant.
Rebecca (@RebeccaPahle) sobs at The Little Giants. It’s the scene where the absentee dad shows up the game. She’s getting emotional just thinking about it.