Let’s just get a few things out in the open right off the bat: First, this is a children’s adventure story with some comical elements, which is the complete opposite of Dreamworks’ flagship animation, Shrek. The laughs are far and few between with this one, and when they do come, they’re nothing mind-blowing. If you go into this movie with the expectation of a comedy, you’ll be severely disappointed. Second, you’ll recognize Craig Ferguson’s voice and…well, that’s about it. There’s some talent that may make you go “That was…?”, but again, nothing spectacular. And that’s the general feeling of this entire movie. It won’t be noteworthy to the general viewer. The plot is thin, the animation is just decent enough for the story, and the main characters aren’t deep or sympathetic.
The film does shine, however, with a few scenes. The fact that the main character, Hiccup, uses previously attained observations in his battles without giant neon signs pointing out to the audience that they were retrieved from a particular scene is appreciated. The father of the meek Hiccup is surprisingly well-rounded, where some writers/directors would’ve used a one-track authority figure dealing with a ne’er-do-well member of the tribe. But with such a simple plot that’s obviously aimed toward younger children, this element is bulky, as if the creators knew it should be there but weren’t sure what to do with it.
With the forced love interest sub-plot, extraneous scenes and characters, and contradictory character development (Ever see bees turn on their queen? Then why would comparable creatures do so with only the suggestion of their eons-long enemy?), the story isn’t worth viewing unless you have a very little one who finds dragons adorable. And even then, borrow the DVD and play it on mute.