I used to watch the 1970s version of “Pete’s Dragon,” so I was kind of expecting the story to be similar in this Disney remake with its quirkiness and musical numbers (RIP Mickey Rooney!).
However, there are virtually no similarities between the two films – which isn’t a bad thing, just something I wasn’t expecting.
The 2016 version starts off in typical Disney fashion with Pete’s parents dying. (Why are most children in Disney films orphans??) Alone in a forest, Pete (who is 5 at the time) is taken in by a green dragon. This part all happens really quickly and the deaths of the parents is glossed over (my 6-year-old didn’t really realize what was happening and kept asking when Pete’s mom and dad were going to show up). If you have a sensitive kid, however, this might be upsetting.
Anyway, the movie skips forward six years to show Pete and the dragon, which he names Elliot, frolicking in the forest. You also meet the townsfolk and a logging crew.
We watched the movie in 3D but it didn’t really seem to warrant it, as there were not many special effects. Watching it without 3D wouldn’t take away from the enjoyment any so you can probably skip it (and save the money).
My son and I both really enjoyed the movie. Elliot is a masterful work of art, and you can’t tell he’s CG. It’s amazing, really. The plot is well done and there are a few funny parts, although it is mostly a serious movie.
There aren’t really any objectionable scenes or language, except one small bit where a waitress spills some water and an old lady slaps her. There’s no need for the scene and I hope Disney cuts it out.
The boy who plays Pete (Oakes Fegley) is amazing and so is Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Grace, the park ranger who takes Pete in after her boyfriend’s daughter Natalie (Oona Lawrence) finds him in the forest.
I really think this movie, with its undercurrents of the importance of family, conservation and – most of all – the true wonder and magic of childhood, where you so desperately want to believe in something as mystical as a dragon, will stand the test of time.
It really is a lovely film with a moving story and message. I found myself at the end of the movie really wanting Elliot to be real and nearly shedding tears at the final scene – which I won’t spoil but is magical and heartwarming.
You won’t regret seeing Pete’s Dragon with your children; it just may make you long to be a kid with a heart full of magic all over again.
Korie Wilkins is a multi-tasking work-at-home mom who loves coffee, crocheting and reading really big books. Follow her on Twitter at @koriemw.