Odds are you’re not aching to see this one. In fact, if you don’t have kids you might not have even heard of this movie. Those of us “lucky” enough to fall victim to the absolute dribble being marketed to our kids as entertainment these days are forced to take notice. Fortunately for us, the door swings the other way as well. The higher budget computer animated kids movies are being stuffed like a prom queen with jokes aimed to elude the child and make the parents laugh.
How to Train Your Dragon is your typical misfit kid story. Struggling to fit in, he eventually learns that being unique is the greatest prize of all. Jay Baruchel (otherwise known as the “only not famous guy” from Tropic Thunder), voices the lead character named Hiccup. Hiccup is a scrawny, awkward teenager with a smug Joel McHale-type personality. So much so that to prepare for the role all Jay did was watch Christian Slater in Kuffs over and over again. The problem is that Hiccup is a Viking. As we all know, Vikings are burly, mean, and completely obsessed with killing dragons.
You’re all under arrest, now lay on the ground or something
At first Hiccup wants to be just like all the other Vikings, but after failing to kill the most mysterious dragon of all, the “Night Fury”, he ends up befriending it instead. In no time Hiccup and his dragon are as tight as Turner and Hooch. But, Hiccup is leading a double life. When he is not frolicking with his dragon friend, he is being trained along with the other Viking youth, to kill dragons. It eventually all comes to a boil and Hiccup is forced to defy his Viking beliefs and unify the two enemies for a common good.
This film is very well thought out. Although we couldn’t care less about the multiple species of dragons and their special abilities, there was plenty of family friendly action mixed with subtle comedy. Hiccup’s quest to win over his peers and challenge authority led to an E.T.-like climax that kept my interest enough to not turn it off even after my kids fell asleep. Although this movie was not loaded with adult humor like Shrek for example, it did keep the audience engaged throughout the evolving story.
Vikings didn’t have to worry about Craig Hanson
Hiccup’s love interest Astrid (voiced by Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera) has a forced chemistry with Hiccup. There was simply no need for a love story to be mixed into this. This was an obvious studio requirement for just another movie glorifying what in reality was a monstrous culture of men, magically morphed into an enchanting time of existence for our children. (Case in point, my nephew wants to go searching for Captain Jack Sparrow off the coast ofSomalia.) Although, watching a film about Vikings without the constant anxiety of the female lead being raped must be what makes it a family movie.
The real life Viking Captain Smoot on the prowl once again
For those watching with children, there will always be plenty of questions from the peanut gallery. This movie seems to spoon feed them to our children. (And for those not watching with children, stop being weird and watch a real movie.)
“Why does everyone have a Scottish Accent and Hiccup Doesn’t?”
“Why do the dragons eat all the sheep but not the people?”
“Why won’t he just tell them the dragons are good?”
“How does that thing make him fly?”
Just imagine every sip of this beer accompanied by an “I don’t know” because you’ve exhausted every other answer for them.
This movie doesn’t quite reach the level of entertainment we have come to expect from movies like Megamind, but its story is enough to allow us to sit and “bond” with our children, while not having to talk to them. A decent waste of 98 minutes.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever a dragon breaths fire
Take a Drink: whenever Hiccup is referred to as “this”
Take a Drink: every time a Viking connects a punch.