DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon is an entertaining and adorable (don’t worry boys, you will still be manly if you see it) film that is by far one of their best attempts at removing Pixar from the computer animation throne.
In the Viking community a name can say a lot about the person; so with a name like Hiccup people probably aren’t going to expect that much from that individual. Growing into his name, Hiccup is seen as the community screw-up, far from one with the battle prowess of the others in the village. Especially when it comes to killing dragons, the village pest problem. Though everyone has little faith in what Hiccup is capable of, he has not given up on becoming a great warrior against the dragons and actually brings an elusive Night Fury down with one of his inventions during a dragon food raid on the village. With this final straw, the village warriors (AKA the majority of the village) leave to find and eradicate the dragon nest, leaving Hiccup to his own devices. However, when he finds the downed dragon he realizes that maybe he just doesn’t have what it takes to do what is expected with him, starting an unheard of friendship with the enemy.
How to Train Your Dragon sticks with the usual animated route of making this an overly heartwarming tale of friendship and family, but even though it falls into a slightly predictable story, the biggest problem for me was that the dragon was just too adorable. Just take one look into its puppy dog eyes and the moments involving other characters towards the beginning of the film sometimes just become filler between one scene with the dragon and the next as you frustratingly chant, “we want more dragon!” to yourself. Luckily enough this is eventually rectified as Hiccup’s time with the dragon and his Viking training slowly begin to merge into one whole instead of two separate storylines.
But lets get back to the animation. Though the story is enough to win the audience over, the animation is what seals the deal. (I apologize in advance because I am about to start gushing like a little girl) The Night Fury, which Hiccup names Toothless, is one of the cutest creatures put on screen and brings about a ridiculously high number of “AW!” waves through the audience, and I am not ashamed to say that I probably laughed ten times more than the children sitting around me at Toothless’s antics and personality. Basically I refuse to believe that anyone who has ever owned a pet of any kind, even an extremely rambunctious fish, will be capable of leaving the theatre without a smile on their face.
Moving away from the non-talking roles, How to Train Your Dragon is rounded out with a lot of talent for the voice acting. Even in an animated film Gerard Butler plays the strongest fighter of the village, as well as Hiccup’s father and village leader, and the rest of the roles are filled with a group of really strong comedians (not to knock Butler’s laugh getting capabilities). Craig Ferguson plays Hiccup’s appendage-lacking mentor as both the blacksmith and trainer to the younger generations of dragon slayer, who are voiced by Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, America Ferrera as the girl of his dreams, and Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and Kristen Wiig as the rest of the soon-to-be-dragon-slayers (who manage to escape having a Scottish accent. Must be a prize for becoming a full-fledged Viking…). The main roles are written pretty well, but for the most part the dialog is slightly disappointing for the supporting cast because it doesn’t really take advantage of the comedic potential of these actors. Luckily enough the animation makes up for this.
(Little girl mode reinitiated now): How to Train You Dragon is an adorable animated film and by far one of the best DreamWorks animated films I have seen. Gush, gush, gush…
Final Grade: A