Unruly pets are a frequent element in children's movies, from Marley to Lilo to the Tramp, but those animals don't destroy houses and eat people. That's not the case in How To Train Your Dragon, a cgi movie from DreamWorks Animation.

On a small island a town of Vikings suffer from dragon attacks. On a fairly regular basis, a variety of dragons steal sheep, breathe fire on the houses, and attack people. Led by Stoick (Gerard Butler), the Vikings are a burly, warlike people -- except for Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Stoick's teen son. Hiccup is small, a bit whiny, clumsy, helps blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson), and invents devices he thinks will help battle the dragons. He also has a crush on Astrid (America Ferrera), a skilled young warrior who barely noticed Hiccup.

One of Hiccup's devices works, not just capturing a dragon but capturing the speedy, elusive Night Flyer. Hiccup soon bonds with the wounded dragon, naming it Toothless, creating a makeshift fin for its wounded tail so it can fly again, and making a saddle and rope harness to he can fly it. He also learns much about the habits and traits of dragons, which makes him excel in his training sessions against dragons (with a variety of teens warriors in training -- including Astrid). But while he comes to believe killing dragons is wrong, this goes against everything the other Vikings believe -- especially his father. And there's something far bigger than the dragons out there...

How to Train Your Dragon is a nice little kids' movie. While we've seen this story many times before, the animation of the dragons (from two-headed belchers to fat crashing creatures) is a lot of fun, and the flying sequences are amazing. Baruchel's nerdy voice works far better here than it did in She's Out Of My League, though I wonder why only the adults have Scottish accents in this movie. This is a very pleasant film, a fun way to pass some time.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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