How to Train Your Dragon is a fun, roller coaster ride of a movie. This action adventure film from DreamWorks Animation is a tale of a boy named Hiccup, a most un-Viking-like Viking. The boy wants to fit in but he just can't. On the Island of Berk, everyone's dream job is to be a dragon slayer and Hiccup just doesn't look like one. He is bullied by his peers and looked down upon by the community for being different. He is friend-less until he meets Toothless, the Night Fury dragon. With this unlikely friend by his side, the thrilling ride begins.

On the outside, Hiccup does not appear to be the hero-dragon-slayer-type. On the inside, he possesses signs of greatness. Hiccup has empathy. He is able to overcome his prejudice and relate in a caring way to Toothless.

Hiccup has resilience. He perseveres despite being marginalized by his village. In reality, an adolescent might suffer depression and low self esteem in such an environment.

Lastly, he has intelligence. He has the mechanical know-how to fix the broken wing of an animal that has never been studied before. He has the wisdom to understand the difference between violence for self-defense and violence for glory. He's smarter than the adults who don't know much about dragons and who tend to attack first and ask questions later.

There is a war raging between the Vikings and the dragons. When Hiccup's friendship with a dragon is accidentally discovered, his loyalties are tested. He must fight to make things right. The violence in this movie is not appropriate for younger children. It's only cartoon combat, but the kids in this movie are in the war and spend a fair amount of screen time fighting or learning to fight. There is no gore and guts, but they do suffer casualties.

The humor in the film appeals to children of all ages. With character names like Snotlout, Fishlegs, Rufffnut, Tuffnut and Hiccup, you expect laughs and How To Train Your Dragon delivers.

Overall, I loved the fun, the flying and friendship in this animated 3D feature. This movie is appropriately rated PG.

Susie Hou
sshou@mindspring.com