Pete's Dragon Reviews
It's overly-long and there are far too many musical numbers, not to mention there's a lot of dark material for kids
But the mixture of live-action and animation is cool to look at
Elliot the dragon is pretty much a way for little Pete to escape his abusive environment and find happyness
So when they both arrive in this town its citizens need help of their own
It's corny but I got some chuckles
The film is about a boy, Pete, who has escaped with his dragon, Elliot, from his abusive foster family. The two of them come to the town of Passamaquoddy, where they meet a lighthouse owner, Nora (Helen Reddy) and her father, played by Mickey Rooney.
As far as the music goes, the songs are some of Disney's best. It's hard to point out highlights, since all of them are so memorable. My favorite might be the film's first song, "The Happiest Home in These Hills," which is as memorable of an opening as could be. They say that in most films, the part you remember the least is the beginning. But in Pete's Dragon, it's one of the best scenes. The choreography and the creepiness of Pete's orphan family chasing him through the swampy forest is still ingrained in my head all these years later and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
But the dark tone shifts a lot throughout and we end up getting more of a campy musical feel the rest of the way out. But at least that's what it wants to be.
Elliot, the dragon, is as adorable as any Disney character. He brightens up the screen whenever he's on it. In fact, the biggest problem is probably the fact that he only gets 22 minutes of total screen time in a movie that's 134 minutes.
It's still better than the original plan, which was to have him absent in the movie altogether. Instead, remaining in Pete's imagination only. What we get is better than nothing.
Most films back then aren't without their issues, and neither is Pete's Dragon. It has its fair share of plot holes. It doesn't make much sense why Pete waits almost the entire movie to show Elliot to Nora. He has no reason to hide him from her. But if you throw in nostalgia, these things don't really matter as much.
It's a fun movie. Kids will enjoy it, and it's completely tolerable for adults.
Twizard Rating: 92
While it is without question that the effects of the Elliott (the dragon) will never feel the same again, due to the effects of today, if you are able to look past that aspect and view this film from the time period it was made, you may just find that aspect charming. As the film begins in the woods with the relationship of Pete and his dragon Elliott, it is clear from the start that many of the scenes to later occur throughout this film, will clearly be for children. With weird facial expressions between Pete and the cartoon dragon, 1977s Pete's Dragon becomes a cartoon of itself. That being said, their relationship is believable when you suspend your disbelief, which is very easy for you children to accomplish. For that reason, their relationship is the biggest positive of the film, because kids are sure to love it.
In a film that is solely directed toward children, there needs to be a few aspects that adults can enjoy, or the film is not an accessible one. To me, whether a film is as auteur as you can get or not, there needs to be at least one relatable aspect or believability. Mickey Rooney was easily the highlight of the film for me, proving that you can both be shocked and terrified about seeing a dragon, while also playing an extremely over-the-top drunk for the adults to enjoy. He is easily the best character in the film, being the father-figure to Pete, being ultimately scared of his dragon, and also being the goofy drunk that he is. He, along with the rest of the townspeople felt very well-utilized, making for a believable story. The family aspect of the film is what makes it soar. Due to the fact that this film is extremely dated, this is where the positives end in my opinion.
While I was able to find quite a few positives with this film, and ultimately enjoyed the film more than I disliked it, Pete's Dragon is not without its insane amount of flaws. With the amount of terror surrounding this town, they do not seem to do much once they believe it is a real dragon. Aside from a few henchmen who are out to buy this dragon from Pete, the film is a very one-note mess. When these villains finally come into play, the magical aspect derailed for me, feeling like just another snatch-and-grab story, involving a boy/girl and their pet. It has been done to death, so a film like this needs a certain amount of heart to win me over. While it does shove some of that down your throat by the end of the film, everyone seems like they are in a cartoon, which I believe this film was trying to be the opposite of. In the end, this film is tonally a complete mess.
Sure, you can dance and sing along to all of the cheesy song, which are all well-intentioned, but ultimately, this film is all cuteness with no brains. This film felt more like stunt to try and create something unique, but was a jarring tonal mess. While I do admire the effort, the relationship between Pete and his dragon, as well as the family aspect of the film, the rest is too jarring to warrant a recommendation nowadays. This film is about to receive its remake, and among all the remakes currently in the works, I believe this one may just deserve it the most. Pete's Dragon is a fine film if you are able to put yourself in the mindset of a kid from the 1970s, but most others will be laughing at how dated it has become.