Three and a half stars
Now, here’s a story you would like to read your little boy before he goes to bed. ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is an old fashioned fantasy, in the tradition of an old fashion Disney cartoon. There are no gimmicks, side jokes for the adults or pop culture references which is what makes this film such a delight. The story opens on the narration of a young boy, named Hiccup, who explains that in his village, dragons are considered beasts that are to be killed. The main character, Hiccup is voiced by Jay Barouche, and he sounds like the way kids used to sound in cartoons before they started using child actors to voice kids. He sounds a little too squeaky to be a real kid, but his tone is perfect as a normal kid who is the disappointment of his Viking father. His father sends him off to training, where he meets another group of kids, including a girl who looks like a tween dressed up in emo clothing named Astrid Hoffeson, voiced by America Ferrera. He is trained by Gonner the Belch, voiced by the wonderful Craig Ferguson (those of you who watch late night know why he is wonderful), as he teaches the young Vikings how to battle and kill dragons.
Hiccup, though, is laughed at and is known as a kid without a future as a warrior. While in the woods, he meets a dragon. First he shoots it down, than when he meets the dragon the second time, he names him Night Fury, and sees how scared the dragon is of him as he is of it. The movie becomes a story of a boy and his dog, almost, then. He gives it food, and earns its trust. Then when he starts to battle dragons, he developed a trick where he just trains them, making it look like he is slaying the dragon. Soon enough, he becomes popular and the envy of the whole Viking community. Our young hero is off, as he does his trick with one dragon after another, constantly making everyone think he is the ultimate dragon slayer, when in fact he is actually just teaching him or her to do a trick. He quickly becomes a nerd, as he sits back at a desk, putting together plans and studying everything there is to be known about dragons. There’s nothing wrong with that.
This is yet another film based on a popular series of children books, but this one harkens back to an old fashion family picture, as opposed to Harry Potter or Twilight movie. This really isn’t about a boy who discovers that he has some kind of dynasty or huge secret. It’s simply about a town with dragons and a boy who learns to train them. Can dragons and humans be friends? Why not? The animation is lovely, done by the same people who did Shrek. The characters are charming. Though, most of all, the best thing about this picture is that it’s simply an old fashion fantasy film. Ok, so it doesn’t add anything new to the fantasy genre, but it really doesn’t need to. It’s a well-made and effective family picture that will have you cheering for Hiccup throughout.
I would think this is quite a story to read to a boy before he goes off to sleep, as they go off to dream land and dream of taking off on a dragon of their own. This film has a good lesson for boys. It shows boys that they don’t need to be violent to win. Maybe they just need to learn to understand those they are supposed to be violent against.