I had a difficult time writing today’s comic because the joke is kind of crass and I kept trying to censor myself as I was constructing it. That’s a lose-lose situation every time. So I decided to just kind of go for it.

I prefer to think of Theater Hopper is a family friendly comic. But sometimes, you just have to throw caution to the wind.

I don’t know if this joke is particularly funny, but an imaginary sexual euphemism was the first thing that came to mind when I was thinking about How To Train Your Dragon.

I actually got a chance to see the movie on Saturday and I’m surprised how much I liked. Or, rather, I’m surprised how much my enjoyment of the film mirrored critical and fan response leading up to the release.

In the few days before Friday and on Friday itself, I was seeing all kinds of effusive praise for the film and thought it was almost going over the top. I was skeptical that if the film was the first moderately good film of the year that people were going overboard heaping praise on it just so they would have something to talk about.

Well, it turns out the praise is justified. The movie is spectacular. Even if the film lacks some of the wit and heart of your average Pixar film, Dreamworks was finally able to put the cap on the annoying pop culture references they’ve been making since the first Shrek movie.

And while the film’s story of an outsider who finds acceptance (and his reticent Daddy issues) won’t win points for originality, you never really notice the tropes as you’re watching the film. The plot moves briskly, explains it’s rules succinctly and never treats the audience like idiots. Kind of a tall order for what is otherwise a kids film.

At the insistence of others, I watched How To Train Your Dragon in 3D and I strongly recommend you do, too. The flying scenes alone are a wonder to behold. Talking with my friend Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies, he said “It does for flying sequences what Iron Man did. It’s almost becoming its own genre.” He couldn’t be more right.

Bottom line, the movie looks fantastic. And I’m not talking about the computer animated bells and whistles. I’m talking about the cinematography, the lighting.

It should look good. Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders hired Roger Deakins to make sure the film looked top notch in this department. You may not know it, but you’ve seen Deakins work before. He performed the same role for Pixar’s Wall-E.

If I could make one complaint about the film, it would have to be the voice casting. Jay Baruchel can sometimes come off a little too nasal and whiny. Kind of like Woody Allen’s grandson snuck into a Viking village.

Similarly out of place are Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson as tribal leaders. Their thick, Scottish brogue’s on full display in a Scandinavian village. If I were Nordic, I’d be kind of peeved. What? They couldn’t at least cast Stellan Skarsgรฅrd?

I was also very distracted by the inclusion of America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig as Baruchel’s friends in “dragon training.” Every time I heard their characters speak, I was distracted by trying to figure out where I had heard their voices before.

Hill’s character in particular, Snotlout, threw me because he looked like he was modeled after Jack Black. I kept expecting the character to break into song and over-enunciate his consonants at any minute.

But these are minor distractions, really. For the one or two things the movie gets wrong, it gets four or five things really, really right.

The dragon referenced in the title – a “Black Fury” Baruchel names Toothless – is an excellent reflection of the animators skill of showing without telling. Toothless does not speak, but we know exactly what he’s thinking throughout the entire course of the movie. His facial expressions flow effortlessly between snarling distrust to wide-eyed playfulness. His body language is equal parts dog, cat and jet-black gila monster.

How To Train Your Dragon does an excellent job of accessing that part of your childhood that fantasizes about dragons all day. The part that doodles them on a sheet of paper when you get distracted. It is an immensely enjoyable film and if you don’t leave the theater wanting a dragon of your own by the end of it, then you must be one of those people who likes unicorns. If that’s the case, then I don’t know how to save you.

If you saw How To Train Your Dragon this weekend, feel free to leave your comments below. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

↓ Transcript
One for How To Train Your Dragon, please?

Flying solo tonight, Mr. Brazelton?

Yeah. Cami didn't want to come because she thinks the title How To Train Your Dragon is too "suggestive."

What does she mean?

Oh, you know. Like "spanking the monkey" or "waxing the pole?"

I think it's kind of silly, but...


She was totally dropping hints!

I could be at home having sex with my wife!