3 ½ Waffles (Out of 4) - I was able to see this in IMAX 3D, which is highly highly highly recommended if you have one near you. Just make sure you bring some sort of sanitizer (I have a travel size one with me at all times) because they re-use all of the glasses from show to show, and I hope they clean them in between, but you never really know.
In this animated tale, Jay Baruchel provides the voice of Hiccup - a young Viking teen who lives in a village constantly under attack from dragons (who think sheep are very tasty, and they are). His father, Stoick ( Gerard Butler), is the village's leader and, as the most ferocious Viking in all of the land, he wants to do anything to find the dragons' lair and destroy them, so his Viking people can live without fear.
While Stoick is big, brawny and brave, Hiccup is scrawny, mocked and wimpy. In this world, killing a dragon makes you a man and helps you score with the ladies (isn't that the motivation for everything us dudes do?), but Hiccup is starting to wonder if killing dragons is the right thing to do as he studies the Night Fury dragon he shot down one night, nurses back to health, and starts to learn more about as he adopts the little fire breather like the family dog.
Will Hiccup convince the other Vikings dragons are not their enemies?
Will Stoick find that dragon hideout?
How To Train Your Dragon has all of the right amounts of sweetness and fun, even if the story is simple. Ultimately, the movie soars because the interaction between our Night Fury dragon and Hiccup is like a fantastic dance as they try to decide whether or not to trust each other, get to know each other and become pals. The animators deserve massive kudos for the amazing way they give all of the dragons a personality, especially the Night Fury, who becomes the coolest, most fun family dog ever.
Refreshingly, director Dean DuBlois and Chris Sanders, along with the writing team, find a way to take the cliché storylines and characters and make them feel classic instead of tired. Sure, we have seen the misfit who doesn't fit in, the story of a boy and his dog, and the burgeoning, unlikely young love story between said misfit and a girl too beautiful for him, but it works in How To Train Your Dragon because this story is told with charm, warmth, heart and soul. howtotrainyourdragonPARAMOUNT.jpgAlso, it's a funny movie without being a dirty movie. You get a couple elementary school level potty jokes, but most of the film is full of goofiness, like Gobber ( Craig Ferguson), who has unconventional methods to teach the young Vikings, and Hiccup's classmates who might not be the brightest students you have ever seen (they make the Sweathogs look like Rhodes Scholars), but they know when to support each other.
Finally, How To Train Your Dragon is full of wonderful vocal performances. After looking silly in The Bounty Hunter, Butler makes a comeback as the gruff, tough Viking with a booming voice to match his massive physique. Ferguson is goofy, silly, sprightly and lovable. Baruchel finds the right balance between whiny and adventurous. Then, Christopher "McLovin" Mintz-Plasse makes his nerdy bookish kid, Fishlegs, cute and cuddly.
The movie has one of the best endings you have seen in a few years, but please beware that some of the action scenes might be too intense for very small kids because the dragons do attempt to devour the village like I attack a chocolate cake.
Still, you are better off taking your kids to this movie instead of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
3 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
How To Train Your Dragon is rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times