How to Train Your Dragon

Rated 4.0

In Viking days of yore, a seaside village is ravaged by periodic raids by dragons. One misfit youth (voice by Jay Baruchel) first longs to be a mighty dragon slayer like his father (Gerard Butler), but instead he secretly befriends one of the beasts, leading to unexpected complications. The story (from Cressida Cowell’s book) is essentially a variation on the old tale of Androcles and the lion, with a wiseacre twist well-suited to precocious 21st-century kids. Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (who co-wrote with Adam F. Goldberg and Peter Tolan) supply an enjoyable blend of rousing adventure and endearing if flat-footed comedy. The flying scenes are spectacular in 3-D, and facial movements are supple and expressive (though matching lip movements to dialogue could use some work). Great fun for kids.