This week we have Disney’s latest live action remake coming out. It is a very loosely based retelling of the 1977 film Pete’s Dragon. I’m actually looking forward to this remake. The early buzz is great, and I’m excited to see what indie director David Lowery can do. Evidently the working environment was great because Disney has already hired him to work on their Peter Pan remake. He has a passion for the project and if Disney is going to do remakes (which I wish they wouldn’t) I’d like them to pick auteur directors with unique perspectives and ideas.
Since I have never reviewed the original on my blog I thought I would give some of my thoughts. I know for many it is a special film but for me it isn’t one I grew up with or even recall watching as a child. In fact, when I heard they were doing a remake it made a lot of sense to me. In general I prefer remakes to be done of movies that are decent but could be improved rather than masterpieces like Sleeping Beauty. Pete’s Dragon is cute but it’s pretty hokey and doesn’t really impress me that much.
The story of Pete’s Dragon is pretty simple. It’s about a boy named Pete who has a dragon named Elliot. Elliot is an animated creature and the rest of the movie is in live action. Pete loves Elliot because he is an orphan owned by a horrible family called the Gogans and Elliot is his only friend.
While the Gogans are searching for Pete, they go to a village named Passaamaquoddy and meet a man named Lampie who has a daughter named Nora. Nora’s fiance Paul has been reported lost at sea, so she is naturally very upset.
Pete’s Dragon is perfectly harmless entertainment. The songs are fine but aside from Candle on the Water forgettable. The performances are all nice. The animation of Elliot is first rate. It has its heart in the right place. It’s very sweet enjoyable film. There is a lack of cynicism to the entire enterprise that is very charming.
However, I don’t know if I would say it’s a particularly good movie. The villains, particularly the Gogans, get old very fast. They cross over the hokey line and become out right annoying. Plus, it is strange to have a Disney movie where a character is continually claiming she has the ‘bill of sale’ to a human being. Isn’t that strange?
Dr Terminus and Hoagy are sniveling snarling mustache twirling villains that are fine but don’t do much to inspire me or excite me. Pretty standard rote bad guys.
Like I said, the songs aside from Candle on the Water are nothing special. Let’s put it this way Passamaquoddy isn’t likely to be the next Supercalifragilsticexpialidocious. This music sorely misses the Sherman Brothers. They could do so much with a song like Brazzle Dazzle Day. As it is it’s meh.
The animation is pretty good on Elliot and he and Pete have a sweet relationship. I also appreciate we don’t get any real backstory on Elliot. He just exists and that’s the way it is.
I certainly would put other live action Disney films like Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, Bednobs and Broomsticks, Parent Trap, 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, etc far above this. I even think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (not Disney I know) is much better. They are for the most part more engaging and less syrupy than Pete’s Dragon.
But there is stuff to like here and aside from the Gogans nothing to really offend or annoy me, so it’s not a bad watch. It’s fine.
Overall Grade- B-