Viking life wasn’t all bronze breastplates (though there was a lot of that, too). Here, it’s grim, hostile and heavy with social pressure—kind of like Gossip Girl, only with dragon heads instead of handbags. Viking social climbing is kill or be uncool, and Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is lord of the geeks. When dragons attack their island, a regular ritual, Hiccup is squirreled away while his peers—even the dumb ones (Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the girls (Kristen Wiig, America Ferrara)—get to defend their village’s honor. Worse, his father Stoick the Vast (Gerald Butler) is their leader and looks upon his son as though he’s a Texas football coach and the boy wants to take up ballet. This latest from DreamWorks is one of the best flicks the studio has ever done. Helmed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, it takes liberties with the Cressida Cowell series of kiddie novels, shaping it into a slightly more-adult saga about xenophobia. Tentatively, Hiccup befriends a wounded dragon named Toothless—the scenes of the pair earning each other’s trust are lyrical and tender. Dragons, you see, are really just fire-breathing cats defending their own families, but if he takes the truth to his classmates at Gobber’s (Craig Ferguson) dragon-slaying academy, he’ll be drummed out of his homeland as a disgrace to Viking-kind. While the cartoon is still quite cartoonish—DreamWorks has yet to steal Pixar’s secret for turning pixels into real people—it’s a charmer with enough sword-clashes and painful blows that it earns its happy ending and the small, embarrassed tear that beads up in your eye.