Based on Cressida Cowell's children's book in which a Viking Chief's son must capture a dragon in order to be initiated into his tri be.
A winning mixture of adventure, slapstick comedy, and friendship, How to Train Your Dragon
rivals Kung Fu Panda
as the most engaging and satisfying film DreamWorks Animation has produced. Hiccup (voice by Jay Baruchel) is a failure as a Viking: skinny, inquisitive, and inventive, he asks questions and tries out unsuccessful contraptions when he's supposed to be fighting the dragons that attack his village. His father, chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), has pretty much given up on his teenage son and apprenticed him to blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson). Worse, Hiccup knows the village loser hasn't a chance of impressing Astrid (America Ferrera), the girl of his dreams and a formidable dragon fighter in her own right. When one of Hiccup's inventions actually works, he hasn't the heart to kill the young dragon he's brought down. He names it Toothless and befriends it, although he's been taught to fear and loathe dragons. Co-directors and co-writers Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who made Disney's delightful Lilo and Stitch
, provide plenty of action, including vertiginous flying sequences, but they balance the pyrotechnics with moments of genuine warmth that make the viewer root for Hiccup's success. Many DreamWorks films get laughs from sitcom one-liners and topical pop culture references; as the humour in Dragon
comes from the characters' personalities, it feels less timely and more timeless. Toothless chases the spot of sunlight reflected off Hiccup's hammer like a giant cat with a laser pointer; Hiccup uses his newly found knowledge (and an icky smoked eel) to defeat two small dragons--and impress the other kids. How to Train Your Dragon
will be just as enjoyable 10 or 20 years from now as it is today. --Charles Solomon