By Charly SHELTON
This week, we are going to be looking at two films, “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.” First up is “Dragon.”
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a pet dragon? One that flies faster and shoots fire better than any other dragon. This is the story of a boy who does just that – befriends a dragon. The only problem is that the boy, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), is a Viking and his village prides itself on its dragon killing skills. His father (Gerard Butler) is the leader of the village and is time and again disappointed in his son’s abilities in battle. But one night during an attack, Hiccup uses one of his inventions to capture the elusive Night Fury – a dragon so fast and dark no one has ever seen it. Injured, the Night Fury cannot fly away. But instead of Hiccup slaying the dragon like he is supposed to, he keeps him a secret, names him Toothless and helps him to recover from a broken tail wing. He learns much about dragons, discovering that everything he thought he and his village knew about them was wrong. But a far greater evil lurks in the midst, one that will bring everyone together, ending their little battles while they fight together to save themselves.
This is a cute film. Nothing to write home about, but it is enjoyable. Children will like the little dragons (one of them looks and acts like a cat, so they are very cute), but overall the film lacks that something special that made a film like “Shrek” so great. The only real enticement is seeing just how far the Dreamworks Animation team, and technology overall, have come since “Shrek.”
The look to the film was very stylized, as are most films like this, and the fluidity of the motions and the realistic gestures get better with each film released. This summer will see “Shrek Forever After,” previously titled “Shrek Goes Fourth.” With the franchise coming to a close, Dreamworks has one more chance at milking this cash cow, which usually pays off not only for them, but also for the audience. And we eagerly await the announced “Puss in Boots” spinoff film.
But as for “Dragon,” unless you have little kids who are dying to see it, wait for the summer “Shrek” to see a Dreamworks Animated pic. Rated PG, this film is good for anyone who has the desire to sit through it. I give this film 1½ out of 5 stars.
Next is “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
Everyone remembers the one day that they made life-changing decisions, probably in high school, when what was decided would forever determine how your life played out. Maybe you forgot your lines in the school play or the girl you liked moved away and you never told her how you felt. Perhaps you broke up with someone you never should have broken up with. In this movie, three men get a second chance at that day.
Lou (Rob Corddry), Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke) are partying one night in a hot tub at a ski resort where Lou, Adam, and Nick used to party in high school when it was “the” place to be. Now it is a run down old shack barely keeping its doors open. But when they wake up in the morning, they find the resort alive and booming once more and everyone is retro-dressed in 80s garb. They have traveled back 24 years to Winterfest ’86. Mindful of the Butterfly effect, which states that changes in the past could effect future outcomes, the guys take on their teenage personas, except for Jacob, who wasn’t yet born in 1986. So the dilemma is this: change their futures by fixing past mistakes without knowing the outcome, or stay the course and live through a night of mistakes that they wish they never made.
The synopsis above leaves you, the reader, wanting, to be sure. But giving away any more of the plot would reveal key twists.
This is a great film. If you want to know more, just go see it. You will not regret it. For those who lived through the 80s, it is a nostalgic reminder of what was. For those who were too young to remember the 80s, you will recognize the trends that are coming to a high school near you: the leg warmers, neon colored animal print spandex and the lens-less slatted sunglasses worn merely for show. This is the marvel that was 1986. It returns in all its glory, accompanied by jokes galore. Rated R for a reason, this is a drug induced, cheesy, 80s pop fueled, John Hughes-reminiscent tale of three guys and a yet-to-be-born kid living one more night in the 80s. It is the funniest movie since “Tropic Thunder” and possibly the funniest of the year. Do not miss this film. It is worth the $12.50 admission fee in 2010, and definitely worth the $2.69 ticket price that was the average in the 80s.
This is good for everyone 17 and up. Everyone. I cannot say enough good things about this movie. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.