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How to Train Your Dragon Review

By David Kempler

Sweet Dragon Of Mine

It's time for the latest entry into the kiddie-animated wars. And our next contestant, "How to Train Your Dragon", in IMAX 3D, hails from the Dreamworks stable that has previously given us "Shrek", "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda". It's based on the 2003 book of the same title.

In order for me to give kudos to this type of picture it must work at both a child's level and, at the very least, not cause adults to either pass out from boredom or want to scurry for the exits ten minutes in. "How to Train Your Dragon" does far better than the minimum for adults. It manages to make adults feel like a kid, like all the best children's pictures. At different times it conjured up "E.T.", with a dragon as the alien and "King Kong", with a mysterious island that houses the "beast". Yeah, I'm well aware that neither of those is animated but they do share similarities in the composition of their target audience.

The mythical setting is the island of Berk. Vikings live here and dragons periodically raid their livestock. The Vikings fight back and, the next day, the scene repeats. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the teenage son of Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), the leader of the Vikings, is smallish for his age, with a high-pitched voice. He uses an offbeat sense of humor as a means of survival in the macho group. He reminded me of what Conan O'Brien may have been like at a similar age.

As much as Hiccup has no taste for fighting dragons, he has no choice but to begin his training to do just that. However, after fighting a dragon, he befriends it and learns more about them than anyone else in his community. Apparently, they are not the evil-incarnate they are believed to be. Like with E.T., it is the children who are the smart and brave ones, and they shall be the real leaders and teachers.

Of course, there are many exciting battles as well as thrilling (and humorous) escapades along the way.  But, in the end, the film's message is that one should never let fear rule one's life, and that real heroes aren't necessarily the most physically powerful. It's a lesson that cannot be learned too often. Major kudos to all involved.

What did you think?

Movie title How to Train Your Dragon
Release year 2010
MPAA Rating PG
Our rating
Summary A boy and a dragon teach all a wonderful lesson, and more importantly, it's a magical ride for us. The kids will eat it up, and you may, too.
View all articles by David Kempler
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