The first film I saw at this year's Cannes Film Festival was also the one that was least like the others, the animated sequel, “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” And while this was the least interview-oriented festival I've had in a while, when asked to sit down with the talent involved with this film, I was happy to do so.
Both Astrid (America Ferrera) and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) have grown five years older between the first film and this one, and considering the age of the characters, those are five big years, marking a major shift in maturity. It's subtle stuff to play, and both Ferrera and Baruchel seem to really love these movies and these characters.
I've interviewed Baruchel enough times at this point to feel comfortable jumping right into it with him, and what I really enjoyed was how his easy chemistry with Ferrera meant she also jumped right into the conversation. In particular, I wanted to talk to them about one scene in the film where the two of them are together, and she starts teasing him about his mannerisms and his voice, and it's really lovely. The film has several scenes in it that struck me as uncommon not only for animated family films, but for American films at all, scenes that are simply about quiet personal behavior between people, where they're not desperate to advance the plot at the expense of all nuance.
There's also a scene at the beginning of the film where the various characters in Berk are playing a new sport they've invented since becoming a village of dragon riders, and it is a reminder that animation is capable of things that live-action simply can't do the same way. No matter how many times the various directors in the “Harry Potter” series went back to Quidditch, they never quite managed to shake that whole pesky “actual real-world physics” problem. The scene in “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is so much more kinetic and thrilling because of the freedom inherent to the process.
Watch Baruchel's face when he realizes what I'm asking.
“How To Train Your Dragon 2” opens June 13th in theaters everywhere.