Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

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“Do I really gotta be the asshole who says we got in this thing and went back in time?”  – Jacob

 

I feel like I sort of have to explain my personal history with this movie just a bit. It’s something my husband and I still joke about to this day. When we saw previews for this movie on tv, it looked BAD. I mean so stupid you’d want to shoot yourself bad. Then a friend of mine came to visit from out of town. We wanted to go see a movie and literally nothing was playing, so we gave this one a go. I have never been so pleasantly surprised in my entire life. This movie is incredibly entertaining. Is it the best comedy ever made? hardly. But, that brings up a good point. My comedy reviews are going to be hard for me. Because for me, comedy is almost like a guilty pleasure. I almost don’t expect it to be good. As long as it has good jokes, enjoyable characters, and the plot isn’t too stupid, I’m good with it. Surprisingly, I like a lot of raunchy comedies. That being said, it is going to be rare that I will rate a comedy as high as other movies. Looking at my comedies, there’s one or two that might crack above a 4… because those are exceptions to my rule: those actually have more weight to them.

This one, however, does not. So for those of you who have never seen nor wanted to see this movie, I encourage you to reserve judgement. I did, and I’m glad for doing so. **brief aside: this was the first blu-ray my husband and I bought. We literally bought the blu ray then went “crap, we need to buy a movie.” so we trotted into Best Buy and found this one for 5 dollars. Just a random fact**

The story introduces us to “friends” Adam, Nick and Lou (played by John Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry), who each have something really crappy going on in their life. Adam just got a divorce, Nick is at a dead end job and just found out his wife cheated on him, and Lou is in the hospital after an attempted suicide. Adam and Nick decide to cheer Lou up and they all (plus Adam’s nephew Jacob, played by Clark Duke) take a trip to an old winter resort that was their college party grounds. After getting there and realizing the place has lost its “charm” (aka: it’s a shit hole), they decide to have one crazy night of drinking and then go home. They get into the hot tub on the deck of their room, spill a drink on the controls, and wake up in 1986.

After coming to terms that their hot tub transported them back in time, Adam, Nick and Lou decide to reenact the events of their trip from 1986 exactly as they remember them so that they can get back and nothing in the future will be messed up. They attempt this, each reliving some good and not so good times, and realize who they really were and what makes them happy (but not without some bumps on the way). Obviously things don’t go completely according to the plan, and only after the hot tub repair man (Chevy Chase) tells them that the same drink they spilled in the controls will reverse the process, they’re off to search for the one drink they have left (that has of course gotten stolen by the ski patrol guys).

This movie seems really stupid. I’ve watched it a few times over the years and honestly I still can’t tell if it’s supposed to be a spoof of time travel movies or if it’s taking itself seriously. If it is a spoof, then it’s a great one that takes itself more seriously than spoofs normally do these days. If it’s a serious time travel movie, it doesn’t forget to laugh at itself and almost realizes just how stupid the premise is.

The thing for me that makes this movie watchable (as opposed to completely and utterly stupid – i will be reiterating this fact a lot during comedies) are the performances. I’m not going to go off on a complete tangent, but I think that comedic actors – GOOD comedic actors – are way undervalued in Hollywood. I think it takes more acting chops to be funny than it does to be serious. It’s all about timing and delivery and just a certain… something. And this movie and these actors have that. The chemistry between them is hilarious. The delivery of the jokes is good. Adam is the more serious of the three, and John Cusack makes it work in the way that only he can. He’s grounded, and if anything, this movie and his journey through it makes him realize that maybe he shouldn’t be quite so “blah.” Craig Robinson is always an enjoyable person to watch (love me some “Office”), and this movie is no exception. He gets to relive his dream of being the lead man in his band, and it helps him deal with the way his life has gone now and what he needs to do to make put it back on track. Lou, played by Rob Corddry, has to relive some pretty bad moments (getting beat up), but in the end he finds out what life is really all about and what is worth living for (It involves some really bizarre stuff…)

Clark Duke as Adam’s nephew Jacob is probably my favorite character. He’s a kid, and he wasn’t even born in 1986, so he’s experiencing everything for the first time, and honestly, he’s easy to relate to because i can’t help but think that I would act like he does if I ever got sent back in time. He hates his mom (adam’s sister) and turns out she’s up there that weekend in 1986 too! Seeing your parents in a whole new light is always hilarious, and this is no different. Not to mention dealing with no technology.

The end is kinda weird, and I honestly don’t know if I like it or not. Part of me feels like it’s a giant cop out. That being said, if this is a total spoof on those time travel movies, I forgive the ending a bit more, because it’s what everyone in those movie want to do but can’t. I won’t give it away. You’ll just have to watch it and see for yourself.

There’s really nothing wrong with this movie. Like i said, it was a pleasant surprise the first time i watched it. In all honesty, a lot of my hatred or problems with comedies is simply that I don’t enjoy the type of humor, or I don’t get the jokes. This one has a few of those… it’s raunchy and has a ton of sex jokes. I’m not a crazy conservative person or super naive. I enjoy raunchy jokes if they’re done right. Some of these are, and some of them aren’t. That’s just what i’m saying.

Watch this movie and decide for yourself. If I need a good “I don’t care” movie, or if I just need a fun movie, this one is a good one to choose. The characters are good, the humor is funny, and the fact that you can travel through time in a hot tub is just so amazing/hilariously horrible you just have to laugh.

I give Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) a 3 out of 5. Solid entertainment if you need a laugh.**

Up Next: The Hangover (2009)

 

** note: I just found out they’re making a second one. I have no idea how they’re going to do this unless they’re going to undo some stuff or not use the same characters, just the same idea. That being said, Gillian Jacobs is in it (Britta from Community). That could be entertaining.

Ponyo (2008)

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“You can’t be busy – you’re five!!”

This, believe it or not, was the first Miyazaki movie I saw in theaters. Previously, I was never in a place to see them, or was never aware of when these movies actually hit US theaters. They tend to come and go quickly, and sometimes they’re not even wide released. This one was, though. Probably because it is one of Miyazaki’s more subdued movies: it’s more like Totoro or Kiki than Howl or Mononoke. It’s a family movie. So how does it rank? let’s take a look!

Ponyo is loosely based off of the story of the little mermaid. Our titular character, Ponyo (although her given name is Boomhilda) is a fish that lives in the ocean in a strange sub-like thing with her father, who is… sort of human? we’ll talk about him later. Anyway, she escapes and ends up getting her head stuck in a jar and is washed ashore, where she’s rescued by a little boy name Sosuke. She licks the cut on his hand he got from rescuing her and it heals quickly. Amazed, he puts her in a pail, names her Ponyo, and takes her to school to show off.

Eventually Ponyo’s father finds she is missing and sends his spirits of the ocean to retrieve her. They do, much to Sosuke’s dismay, but the damage is done. Ponyo wants to be human. Because she tasted human blood, she uses her magic to grow arms and legs. After escaping again and ruining some of her father’s things (she knocks some of his potions in a pot after he just explained that doing so would bring on a new Devonian era), she uses the magic brewing in the ocean to return to land and try to find Sosuke. They reunite, but there’s a problem – because of what she did to her father’s things, the ocean is rising and causing all sorts of problems to the village where Sosuke lives. His mother goes off to help the seniors at the senior center get to higher ground (she’s not worried about where they live because they’re on a cliff), but by morning she’s still not back, so Sosuke and Ponyo decide to go find her and the seniors. Ponyo uses her magic (it’s not as strong now and starting to take its toll) to make a toy boat bigger and they’re off.

Meanwhile, her father appeals to her mother, the Goddess of Mercy, for what to do with Ponyo. They decide that she must go through a test. She cannot be human and magic. They decide to test the boy’s love of her, and if he passes, she can remain human. If not, she will turn into sea foam.

The ending is… weird. well obviously he passes the test and Ponyo remains human, but… it’s weird. I still don’t know if I completely understand one part. But I won’t ruin it.

So that’s Ponyo. This movie has a lot of really great things going for it. The story is familiar to us, but I don’t know if I would have guessed it was based on the little mermaid. So many details are different, and the whole feel to the movie is much different. Instead of an angst-y teenager, we have a little girl no older than 5 years old. Sosuke is the same age. That in itself lends to a very different type of movie, and i think in this case, it really works. In fact, the pure childhood love and the relationship that Sosuke and Ponyo have are one of the major strengths in this movie, and it is worth watching just for that.

Although this movie is called “Ponyo,” I would actually argue that we have two protagonists, and almost that Sosuke is a bit more important. I’ll talk about Ponyo, but I want to talk about our little boy first. Sosuke is, in many ways, a typical little preschool or kindergarden boy. He gets excited about his pets, he makes up things about his fish that he insists is right, and he goes to school. But there are many things that make Sosuke unlike any other little boy i’ve ever met. He lives with his mother and his father is gone a lot because he works on a boat. Sosuke has to be the man of the house, and as such, there is a seriousness to him. He is almost more grown up than he arguably should be. He had to grow up quickly to help his mother while his father is gone. He’s all about following rules. He’s serious to the point where you wonder if he even knows how to have fun anymore. But in this kid’s heart is love; pure love. The things (in this case Ponyo the fish) he gets attached to are cared for with the utmost respect and important. He doesn’t even seem to understand the hatred that exists in people’s hearts. Not even the bitter woman Toki at his mother’s work.

Ponyo, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Sosuke. She’s naive, excited to the point where sometimes she’s almost manic. Everything is new to her and everything is a game. Everything is the most exciting thing she’s ever experienced. She also very quickly bonds to Sosuke as a fish, even showing a bit of jealousy when he tries to show her to another girl in his class. She’s cheeky, but like Sosuke, has a kind heart. She has a strange sense about her with her magic where she almost knows things before they happen. But to her, everything is fun and everything is a game. As the water rises and they head out on the boat, it could be a dire circumstance, but both she and Sosuke take it all in stride (to her its the most exciting adventure ever!).

I’m not going to lie – a big part of why I don’t like this movie is Ponyo. She’a almost TOO excited to the point where it’s annoying. I feel like they could have toned her down a bit and still gotten the point across that she’s the opposite of Sosuke and she’s teaching him things and he’s teaching her, blah blah blah. That being said, Sosuke to me is the movies saving feature. This is a kid I could watch forever. The two of them balance out perfectly. He’s down to earth and she’s off in her own little world. Together, the two of them do learn to be a bit like the other (sosuke more than Ponyo, but yeah…). You get the relationship between the two of them because it’s so pure and so harmless. It’s friendship. But to kids, friendship is pretty much the same as love, right? You’d do anything for the person.

While the movie really is focused on our two main characters, we have some others around that are also extremely important. First I want to talk about Ponyo’s father, Fujimoto. I haven’t really quite figured out what he is: he looks like a human and has to breathe air, but at the same time it always has to be wet where he walks. When he first tries to get Ponyo back, he walks on the grass spraying the water in front of him. I’m just going to settle by saying he’s some type of ocean spirit God. He’s in charge with keeping the balance in the ocean, although he hates humans and wishes he could return the ocean back to the devonian era when fish ruled the world. He’s not a villain at all, but in the eyes of Ponyo, he is. Fujimoto knows his eldest daughter is his strongest and most magical, but wishes to keep her where he can watch her. It’s the typical “doesn’t want his daughter to grow up” thing. But at the same time she’s only five – I can see his point. His character design is crazy and unique. He wears this amazing blue striped suit and his hair is bright red and all over the place. In the English dub he’s voiced by Liam Neeson, which i think was a nice choice to show that he’s NOT a villain at all.

The other important character is Sosuke’s mother, Lisa (voiced by Tina Fey). She’s upset that her husband isn’t coming home, but tries hard to provide for her son. At the same time – she’s kinda crazy. She’s not afraid to yell at people, drive like a crazy person through a tsunami, or completely abandon her 5 year old son. I don’t think she’d win any parenting awards, but at the same time, she doesn’t bat an eye when her son goes “Mom! Ponyo came back and she’s a little girl now.” I think I’d think my son was crazy if he said that. But not her. She totally goes along with all of this like it’s just another day. She’s a bit crazy, but you can tell she loves her son, and in their life, this is just how it is.

There are some other smaller characters, such as some of the seniors at the senior center Lisa works at, and Ponyo’s mother, a giant spirit Goddess of Mercy. She’s seen as a calm, all knowing beautiful woman. She’s smart, as its her idea to give Ponyo a test, and she understands much better the whole idea of love more than Fujimoto seems to.

The characters are all pretty good. They’re enjoyable and memorable, and like i said, this movie really focuses on Sosuke and Ponyo, and they are a joy to watch. If there has to be a weakness to this movie, I have to say its in the plot. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t understand what in the world was causing the flood and the crazy fish creatures until the 2nd or 3rd time I saw this. I didn’t catch the small conversation Fujimoto was having with himself when he was talking about the vials and the devonian era and what not. I don’t understand why he can’t just reverse it. Does it have something to do with Ponyo’s test? I would almost assume, because everything seems to get back to normal after that. The test in general is almost hard to pick out. Is it the whole trip in the toy boat? is it just the end part when he reaches the senior center?

Oh and yes, lets talk about that, because I still don’t really understand. I think i’m reading too much into this. So Sosuke and Ponyo take their boat trip and find Lisa’s car abandoned. They follow up the road and find the high park area with a bunch of wheelchairs but no seniors. No. they’re all still at the senior center, which is under the water but suspended. the people can breathe under there and Ponyo’s mother and father are there too. The seniors suddenly have more energy and are able to walk and breathe under water. The first time I saw this, I thought “oh my gosh, everyone is dead!!!” I mean seriously, it looks it. there’s stuff that’s said and stuff that is done (Toki tries not to go but is eventually drug under the water and the others tell her just let it go) that make you think that seriously these people are dead. WHAT? I don’t think they really are, but seriously. I don’t know. I really don’t. It weirds me out.

I really want to talk about some of the other things I love about this movie, and they may not be what you think. One, I LOVE the artwork and animation in this movie. It’s different than his others. The backgrounds are much softer, and look as if they were drawn with colored pencils or something like that. it lends really nicely to the whole “seaside” look. At the same time, the detail on the stuff under the ocean is incredible. the fish are beautiful. The creatures after Ponyo starts the devonian revolution are awesome. This is a really beautiful movie (as all his movies are – this one just strikes me because of the different medium).

Two, I LOVE that this movie is super scientific. It has a bit of fantasy to it with the Gods of the sea, but this movie is about balance and fish and biology. There’s names of prehistoric fish thrown out there by Sosuke. They talk about the devonian era. They talk about Biology. I Love this movie strictly because of this. (I was a biology major – rarely are there movies that incorporate this type of thing, and especially as well as this one does).

It’s Miyazaki, so of course there has to be an environmental message. We see a boat dredging the garbage out of the ocean, and as mentioned Fujimoto is very anti-human, mostly because they ruin the ocean with their trash. He kinda acts as Miyazaki’s vessel for his environmental message, but in this movie it is very subdued. Instead, this movie is all about showing the wonders of the environment as opposed to yelling at us for what we’ve done to it. It again is a much softer approach, and I feel as if there is just enough mention of it in a movie where the focus is on these little kids.

I don’t really have much more to say about this movie. It’s Miyazaki’s most family oriented film since Kiki, and it was a nice change of pace. I don’t believe it to be as good as his older stuff, but there are some things about this movie that are really magical, and I bet kids would love it. It does have many more scary elements than Kiki or Totoro, but I see that as just the evolution of our times. Apparently we can’t have kids movies without scaring the bejeezus out of them anymore (that’s a whole other can of worms I won’t open in this review). It’s definitely worth a watch if you have kids. It’s very enjoyable for adults too!

I give Ponyo a 3.5 out of 5.

Next up: The Secret World of Arriety (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

“Why read words when you can just kill the stuff the words tell you stuff about?”  – Snotlout

When this movie came out, I really had no desire to see it. Considering I literally jumped almost 10 years with Dreamworks, it is safe to say that for me, the animation company was losing it. A lot of people loved the Madagascars and Kung Fu Pandas, and I saw them, but to be honest they never really did anything for me. I don’t own them, although I have been meaning to give them another watch. I had kinda given up hope that Dreamworks would ever produce anything that I actually liked anymore.

So when How to Train Your Dragon came out, I didn’t see it in theaters. Then people started talking about it. I had at least three different friends say to me “Kate, you NEED to see this movie. You’d love it.” when lots of different people tell me that, that pretty much means that I have to give in and see the movie. Instead of just watching it, I threw it on my christmas list and let my relatives give it to me. I watched it and…. LOVED it. Absolutely. Like The Prince of Egypt, this movie is on my list of favorite movies. It’s one of the movies I watch when I’m sick, or really need a pick-me-up, and has been since it came out (that’s odd, bc typically i rotate to newer movies…) It’s very different, and it’s not perfect, but the things I love about it, I LOVE.

This movie is loosely (and from what I’ve read, VERY loosely) based on a children’s book by the same name by british author Cressida Cowell published in 2003. The book is the first in a very intense looking group of children’s books (she’s been publishing at least 1 a year for the last ten years). I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit interested in reading these.

Anyway, the movie is based around our protagonist, Hiccup, who is a viking who lives on the island of Berk. As is explained in the first few minutes of the movie, the vikings here have dragons as their pests, and have to do their best to keep them from eating their sheep and destroying their town. This involves fighting them. We’re introduced to a lot of the species of dragons, as well as Hiccup’s ambition to catch one. Because he’s not exactly your typical viking. He’s much less robust, and well… he’s a nerd. He wants to catch a dragon to get noticed and become a hero. He fires a machine at a dragon they call the Night Fury (which no one has ever seen), and it goes down in the woods. Of course no one believes him.

His father, Stoick, is the leader of the vikings and tells Hiccup he is enrolled in dragon fighting school while he and the other vikings head off to try and find the dragons’ “nest,” a place that they can’t find the way too. Meanwhile, Hiccup goes after the dragon he shot down, and finds it, still tied up. He attempts to kill it to be a real viking, but can’t due to the look on its face, so instead he sets it free. It growls and shrieks at him before disappearing.

From here we kinda go back and forth between Hiccup and his interactions with the other kids and dragons in Dragon training, and Hiccup discovering that the Night Fury he caught is stuck in a gorge, the apparatus he used to shoot him down having cut part of his tail so that he can’t balance and turn in the air. Curious, Hiccup soon learns through his interactions with “Toothless” that dragons are not what the vikings had made them out to be: instead of being vicious, they instead are misunderstood and are more like big dogs or cats. Eventually one of the other students, Astrid, finds out what he’s doing, and soon he shows her what’s been going on. While they are flying on toothless, he gets put into almost a trance, and they fly, along with other dragons, to the nest, where the duo figure out that there is an even bigger dragon inside that is using the smaller ones almost as slaves to bring it food (or, like the analogy they use in the book, a bee hive and its queen.)

Stoick and the other vikings return just in time to see Hiccup be the top of his class in dragon training, meaning he gets to kill the dragon he’s fighting. The entire town watching, he takes this as his time to try and show the others that the dragons aren’t as scary and menacing as they all thought they were, when the dragon gets distracted and tries to kill him. Toothless comes in to rescue him, and he gets caught. Hiccup lets it slip that only a dragon knows the way to the nest, and Stoick ends up using Toothless as the way to get to the nest and destroy the dragons once and for all.

The kids left on the island after the others leave with toothless, Hiccup decides not to give up after a talk with Astrid, and them and the other kids end up befriending the dragons in the training ring and riding them to the dragon island, where they fight the big dragon.

I’m not giving away the end.

So that’s How to Train Your Dragon. The story is very unique, and although I’m really not a fan of the whole “dragons being like a beehive” part, the rest of the movie completely makes up for its strange… biology?, in my mind.

This universe is awesome. I really can’t wait for the second movie and to delve more into the world of these vikings and learn more about these dragons and possibly other creatures that live there. The designs of the dragons are unique and very cool; each species of dragon has their own physiological differences, but all dragons share certain aspects (e.g. Noise can make them dizzy). The abilities of some of the species of dragons are very cool. I mean, there’s one dragon that has two heads. One breathes gas while the other sparks it to make fire. That’s incredibly creative and brings about more possibilities other than just the “dragon that breathes fire.” There’s also a book that  the dragon teacher Gobber gives to Hiccup about all the dragons the vikings know about. He flips through it, and we see amazing illustrations along with words of what these species can do. I really want to see more of these dragons, because they just sound so cool. Razor sharp wings? Spitting acid? Yes please!!

But by far the best best best part of this movie for me is Toothless and Hiccup. The relationship that these two develop is seriously one of the best friendships and partnerships in movie-dom. What’s so great about them is that you believe their friendship. You see it from the beginning, see it form, and realize that these two would do anything for each other at the end, and they really do. No matter what happens, they’re in it together.

I’m really going to talk at length about these characters and this relationship and why I feel it’s so special and really at the heart of this movie. To do that, though, I need to first talk about the characters. So we’ll start with Hiccup. First off, he’s voice by Jay Baruchel, which honestly took some getting used to. Now, I can’t picture any other voice. Second, If you’ve never seen the movie, let’s give you an idea of what hiccup looks like versus his father, Stoick…

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Yeah. He’s a geek. It’s not that he’s just lanky. In all honesty, 3/5 of the other kids in dragon training are lanky too. It just adds to his nature. He’s not strong like the other kids. He can’t be trusted to fight dragons. He can’t walk around town during a dragon ambush without being a klutz and getting half the town in trouble. It’s even a running joke that his father or Gobber points to him and goes “You just need to be less of that,” and Hiccup goes, “You just gestured to all of me…” He’s not a well liked or well respected kid. If anything, he’s the black sheep. That’s led him to become sarcastic and self-deprecating. But he still has drive to please his father. That’s why he’s so keen to kill a dragon, bring its head back, and prove to everyone that he can be a viking.

But all that changes when he actually sees the dragon he caught: a dragon that no one has ever seen. In that book I talked about before, there’s no picture, everything is unknown, and the only thing it says is to “run like hell.” This is his moment. He can kill a dragon no one’s ever seen. But something stops him. He tells Astrid later that it was because he looked into his eyes, and he looked just as scared as he was. It’s not that he couldn’t kill the dragon, but he wouldn’t. That’s not who he is. He’s not a barbarian like a lot of the other vikings in town. He’s willing to see past the exterior and make a connection with a “terrifying” monster and see that he is just like him. He discovers through Toothless that it’s ok not being like everyone else. That if you stick to being yourself, you can rise to amazing heights (in this case literally.)

Ok, so that’s Hiccup. Let’s talk about Toothless, because for a dragon that can’t talk, oh goodness is he amazing and hilarious. First off, here’s what the unknown, unspeakable night fury looks like:

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He’s so cute!! It’s like if they took Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, turned him black, gave him wings, then mixed him with a dog, a cat, and a Totoro. This thing totally has Miyazaki written all over it. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, we’ll get to him in our next 12 reviews or so…). I LOVE the design of Toothless. This should show you how much: at the time this movie started getting advertised, I was in the process of designing characters for what is now my 4th unpublished book. In this book, I have a dragon. I literally started designing him, then saw this movie poster and went “crap, now I can’t do that, he looks almost like that dragon! Everyone will think I was ripping off the movie!” so yes, I love the design.

The other thing, other than looks, that makes Toothless even more memorable is the way they have this guy act. He’s plucky and stubborn, and shares a lot of traits with Hiccup. Without talking, Toothless is very expressive. The faces he gives convey his mood, or the way he gets up and walks away, or acts like an overly excited dog, or a stalking cat. The way he grunts his disapproval or uses his ears and frills to slap hiccup when he’s doing something wrong. You don’t need him to talk, and I’m glad they didn’t, because that would distract from what’s so great about him.

Now on to the two of them. I could literally watch the scene where Toothless and Hiccup first connect a million times in a row and not get sick of it. Hiccup already realizes that Toothless didn’t kill him when he had the chance, so he’s starting to question if what the vikings teach about dragons really is true. Since he knows the dragon is hurt, he assumes that he can’t get food, and sets about trying to bring him some fish. After a few tense moments where Hiccup realizes that the dragon’s aggression is brought on by fear of his knife, both seem to relax to the point that Toothless goes and seems to treat Hiccup as a equal, even sharing some of his regurgitated fish.

What I love about this is that Hiccup didn’t have to eat that nasty fish. He could have thrown it away. But he does anyway, because he realizes that this dragon may be something to be respected. This action seems to start our friendship, and the rest of the scene is Hiccup being curious and trying to get closer to the dragon, and Toothless not having any of it. So instead, Hiccup sits by the bank and starts doodling in the sand with a stick, drawing a picture of the dragon. He gets curious and comes over, almost realizes that this kid is drawing him, and goes and uproots a whole tree and starts drawing what, in his mind, Hiccup looks like. Of course it’s just scribbles, but as Hiccup tries to get out, he steps on a line and toothless growls. Again, another respect thing. Hiccup understands and steps in between the lines until he feels the dragon’s breath on his neck. He reaches out his hand, and is able to pet him. A friendship has been made.

That scene is amazing. The music is awesome, not just during this scene but the other seriously memorable ones as well. During the rest of the movie, their friendship only strengthens due to the fact that Toothless actually NEEDS Hiccup, otherwise he can’t fly. Hiccup fashions a new tail on him, and it eventually becomes a saddle and the two must work in unison to be able to fly.  Once Toothless accepts this, they’re unstoppable.

The flying scenes are amazing, beautiful, and surreal. To see this in 3D must have been cool, although seeing it on your home TV is just as awesome. The animation of the characters and scenes are very dreamworks – that means they’re good. I’ve already commented on the design of the dragons being really unique.

The rest of the characters are very memorable, and they add to the fun of the movie while Hiccup and Toothless really carry it. Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is typical viking but also dealing with trying to understand his son. Their relationship is believable, but Stoick is missing for part of the movie, and I know it had to be done, but I almost hope we see more of their relationship in the 2nd movie. Hiccup is the apprentice to Gobber (Craig Ferguson), Stoick’s friend who runs the blacksmith shop, has a missing tooth he’s constantly repounding in and an interchangeable hand. He’s daft and hilarious and in charge of dragon training. He’s the best teacher ever (sarcasm… kinda). It’s hilarious.

The kids in dragon training are really the only other characters we have. They’re all voiced by SNL or other comedic voices, and believe it or not it didn’t detract. Sometimes having voices like that really can. We have Snotlout (Jonah Hill: this character in the book was actually Hiccup’s cousin…), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aka Mclovin’) , Ruffnut and Tuffnut the Twins (voiced by T.J. Miller & Kristen Wiig respectively), and of course our love interest, Astrid (America Ferrera). They’re funny as a whole. I think Jonah Hill does the best job, but the others are memorable and I have to say that they’ve grown on me the more I’ve watched this movie. I think that’s because I’m picking up on lines that I didn’t hear before. They say some pretty clever stuff. They are, at times, though, a bit annoying, and the first time i watched it, they drove me crazy.

Astrid is interesting, because she acts as the love interest, and it’s well known that Hiccup adores her, but it’s not pushed. The relationship between Hiccup and toothless is front and center like it should be. Astrid is all tough and critical and wants to be the victor during dragon training, and actually spends half the movie trying to figure out what Hiccup’s up to and being upset at him when he does better than her. After meeting toothless, she changes and understands like he does. At this point she almost acts like the voice of reason and the sounding board for Hiccup as he watches his best friend being carted away.

I’m not going to say much more about this movie. I’ve explained the really amazing parts, and honestly the only thing I don’t like (although it’s a big thing) is the whole “dragons being like a beehive” thing. It’s not that it’s a bad idea, it’s just… weird. I can’t get over it. There’s nothing wrong with it. I just think that the first half of the movie is much stronger than the second.

I will say though that the way they ended it is amazing. It took guts, and it had me crying. Toothless is always there for Hiccup. Can’t wait for the 2nd one.

I would definitely recommend this movie. If you have really little ones just know that this movie does have a few scary moments, but there’s no inappropriate humor that I can really remember. If you haven’t watched it or if Dreamworks kinda petered out for you, give this one a go. It was a pleasant surprise and I really hope they don’t ruin the sequel.

I give How to Train Your Dragon a 4.75 out of 5. A personal favorite but definitely not perfect.

Up Next: Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind (YAY MIYAZAKI TIME!!!!!)

** Wait wait wait. I’m on imdb and David Tennant is a voice in this?? What character is Spitelout??? Snotlout’s father? Gotta listen for this next time!