‘Pete’s Dragon’ is a fantastic, ‘old school’ Disney family film
Disney continues to find success with remakes and reboots of their classic material, this time with Pete’s Dragon. An all-star cast of Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley join Oakes Fegley as the titular Pete.
Grace discovers that a young boy named Pete (Fegley) has been living in the woods for six years with the fantastical claim that a giant mythical creature has been taking care of him. The orphan’s claim prove to validate the old stories by Grace’s father (Redford) as the local lumber mill is shocked by the discovery. While befriending Natalie (Oona Laurence), Pete sets out to protect his friend, Elliott, as he desires a real family.
While The Jungle Book was visually stunning with a great story, Pete’s Dragon is an even better story without the action and adventure. Director David Lowery explores grief, loss, hope, and family without ever being heavy handed or lecturing. Elliott is an amazing canine-inspired creature sure to capture the hearts of the audience, young and old.
Fegley is never asked to do too much. Howard carries most of the film, but all of the performances are perfect. There are some fun scenes and jokes, but sadly, most were revealed in the promotional trailers and clips.
The message of Elliott needing Pete just as much as Pete needs him will truly reach the kids. Pete’s Dragon is honest and pure storytelling with a political message or agenda. This film truly felt like a Disney picture from their golden years: wholesome, clean, fun and yet, warm with emotional moments.
Lowery stays away from making Elliott too scary or turning the citizens into insensitive monster hunters with their torches and pitchforks. Predictable at times, yes….but still a great ride.
Pete’s Dragon earns 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Some audience members may find the film slow comparing it to the humor and action made popular by the Pixar line of films. It will be great to see audiences embrace Pete’s Dragon, getting their kids to enjoy a different story, packed with family values and emotions.