While it might be less clever, less involving, and certainly less moving than the previous film from Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, Lilo & Stitch, their latest, How to Train Your Dragon is very, very good. It’s brightly colored, beautifully directed, exciting, entertaining, and charming — with little hint of post-modern smugness. It’s also amusing and boasts a worthy lesson in tolerance. And it is moving — just not as moving as their first film. The film concerns a young Viking with the improbable but apt name of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who lives in an uninviting land lorded over by hulky, bulky Scottish-accented Vikings. Why they have Scottish accents I don’t know anymore than I know why their offspring don’t have them. Hiccup is the very antithesis of these large warriors, being small, thin, and sensitive — and this despite the fact that his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), is the chief Viking and very keen on killing dragons. Actually, Hiccup would be glad to do this — or so he thinks — but he isn’t exactly built for it. Everything changes when Hiccup wounds a dragon and subsequently befriends it. Once the film establishes this, it doesn’t do anything particularly surprising in terms of story. However, it traverses its unsurprising path with great skill, and it delivers its message about the wrong-headedness of hating and fearing something or someone based on ignorance and merely because you’ve been told to hate and fear it. That’s a reasonably significant accomplishment in itself.
Director: Lorna Cook and David Soren
Writer: William Davies and Cressida Cowell
Producer: Bonnie Arnold
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrara, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller