**Spoilers Included** I know, I know. The movie has been out for weeks and you probably already know that it has a 98% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. But I can't help myself. I finally got a chance to see it and I have to throw my recommendation out there for this great little film.
How to Train Your Dragon is the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the wry but scrawny son of Stoic the Vast (Gerard Butler) who stands out, and not in a good way, in his Viking village on the island of Berk. The Vikings have been in an ongoing war with dragons that regularly raid the village for food. Hiccup longs to distinguish himself by killing a dragon, and using a contraption he invented, brings down a Night Fury-- the most deadly of the dragons. Of course no one in the village believes Hiccup so he heads out the next day in search of the dragon he's sure he brought down. It turns out Hiccup did successfully bring down a Night Fury, but the dragon isn't dead and when the moment comes to kill the dragon, Hiccup can't do it. Hiccup frees the dragon, only to find that it's too injured to fly.
Unable to leave the dragon stranded and hungry, Hiccup starts to bring it food, and soon finds out that the dragons are not the mindless killers he has been raised to believe they are. Hiccup then designs an ingenious contraption that allows the dragon-- whom he has since named Toothless-- to fly, but only if Hiccup is riding on his back and making the proper adjustments. Bonding with Toothless turns out to be an eye-opener in many ways for Hiccup as he begins to understand the mannerisms of all the dragons and how to tame them.
But the rest of the village isn't ready to hear about tame dragons, and his father is readying the villagers to attack the dragon's nest.
"How to Train Your Dragon" is just too cute for words. It has everything you want in a great family film; The dialog is quick, clever and funny for the adults and the dragons are colorfully cute and just busy enough for the kids. It's well written and paced beautifully so it never gets bogged down or has you looking at your watch.
And the visuals, oh my goodness, are terrific. Some of the animation has the so-realistic-it-looks-real quality to it and it's hard not to be really impressed with how far Dreamworks has come. Most of the reviews you'll see will echo my sentiments-- with good reason-- though a few have tried to put a political spin on the movie (calling it "pacifist" or some such nonsense)-- but don't believe a word of that. It's a kids movie for Pete's sake and kids don't care a whit about war. They want to see a cute movie with a childlike-hero and a happy ending. It just so happens they get all of that wrapped up in a very charming package. I liked it so much I want to go right out and see it again.