#151: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

When and how did I watch this?

January 23rd, 2016, on DVD.

Had I seen this film already?

I’ve probably seen this more than any other film besides The Princess Bride and You’ve Got Mail. While my first daughter was still a babe, I spent evenings (often overnight) with this movie on loop waiting for her to finally go to sleep, and then waking up to it, etc.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I could only know more about it if I were involved in making it myself.  The movie is perfect — it’s a beautiful story, addressing growing up and still acknowledging the adults, all packaged neatly into a family feature. The animation and sound are stunning, and the music is a huge deal to me.  So far, the How To Train Your Dragon series is the only one my wife and I have seen in the theater, and we rarely go.  This one is special to me.

What do I know about it now?

I tried to watch this as it stood among the others on this list, and it really does stand.  The attributes mentioned above all factored in, but what really stood out to me is how important relationship is in cinema.  Writing a good story and getting all the effects in there is nice, but if you can’t get the characters to really interact, it’s no more exciting than watching a round of bumper cars; they’re just spinning around and bouncing off each other, and nothing is happening.  HTTYD makes use of these interactions on a highly emotional level.  Who doesn’t love the witty banter between Gobble and Hiccup, the awkward yet poignant stammering in the father and son scenes, Astrid’s disdain evolving into confusion and gradual understanding, and of course, the undying love between a boy and his pet, who are wholly dependent on each other for survival?

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“Cartoons” aren’t supposed to do this, but this one nails it.

What are some themes in the film?

Relationships, growing up, pride, trust, love. The “love” theme in this film extends to several definitions, and draws several parallels to the Bible (probably unintentionally, but it’s nice for me and other Christians).

Did this affect me personally?

This:
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Why is this ranked #151?

It’s a memorable film, it’s fresh, fun, a part of a successful developing franchise, has an all-star cast, and it’s relatively new. It also happens to be a really, really good movie.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She loves it.  It was nice being able to watch one during daylight hours.

Would I watch it again?

Yep.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Again, it’s a lot of fun, but runs deeper than you might expect for a “family film.” Everyone should see this.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  While it might be pretentious to have this ranked above many of the other films on here, it’s easily Dreamworks’ greatest accomplishment, and it deserves a spot alongside the greatest animated features ever made.

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