How to Train Your Dragon is a delightful film that will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Its spectacular presentation of the black dragon "Toothless" is the product of avant garde animation and captures one's attention right away. The main character, Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, is a likable fellow who manages through common sense and pure spirit to tame Toothless. Many adventures follow that make for both a swashbuckling tale and a fire-breathing feast for the eyes.
The film is directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, Mulan). Toothless is the most breathtaking animated character and he was crafted after the "Stitch" character. You can see influences of a hawk and a dog in certain poses. This animal alone is a reason to see this movie.
Hiccup is a bumbling Viking kid trying to please his father in dragon-fighter school. Unfortunately, his attempts never measure up and he ends up being resented by his father. Along the way, he happens across Toothless, a breed of dragon that is deadly beyond all others. Because Toothless is trapped and needs to be set free, Hiccup sets him free and becomes his master. The irony of this is that throughout the second half of the movie, he ends up saving his community with the help of a dragon. Vikings hate dragons.
There is a female interest, Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera. She is tougher than Hiccup but seems drawn to his mysterious nature. Eventually she discovers his miraculous power over Toothless and dragons in general (Toothless teaches him many things which help him have power over dragons).
The story revolves around Toothless and Hiccup but there are some other very funny and round characters, not the least of which is Gobber, voiced by Craig Ferguson. He is like captain Ahab. He has lost a hand and a leg to dragons and lives with the passion of training kids to be dragon hunters. Ferguson's natural accent adds a lot to the movie and Gobber steals the screen when he shows up.
The visuals of Toothless are so brilliant and so breathtaking they hardly need a good script to capture audiences. At the same time, the story is warmhearted and the way the father and son interact through challenges holds some valuable family lessons. I found this movie delightful and my kids (11, 5, and 2) all loved it for the visuals and the endearing story.