Growing up in the country we didn’t see very many movies.
Going to a movie theater meant driving to the big city of Springfield, and we rarely went to the big city — unless Pa needed something from the tractor supply store.
So I naturally remember the time our neighbors, the Landers, took my sister and me to the little city of Bolivar — which was closer than Springfield and had one movie theater — to see “Pete’s Dragon.” I wasn’t a big Disney fan so I can only assume I went because dragons are kind of like dinosaurs.
I don’t remember anything about the movie other than the dragon was animated, which I suppose was the CGI of 1977. So was it nostalgia that caused me to choose the remake of “Pete’s Dragon” this week’s movie of the week?
Or was it the fact that I really, really didn’t want to see “Sausage Party?”
“Pete’s Dragon” 2.0 begins with young Pete and his parents on an adventure — driving through a lonely forest road to an unknown destination.
Since this is a Disney movie, the parents are quickly removed from the equation via a car crash. Pete wanders through the dark woods and is about to be eaten by wolves when he’s saved by a hairy, green dragon.
Six years pass.
Wait. I know I don’t remember the original film, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a remake of “Tarzan” but with the boy being raised by a dragon instead of apes. Although to be fair, I guess a small boy being raised by a dragon doesn’t really require that much more suspension of disbelief than being raised by monkeys.So we’ll go with it.
Pete (Oakes Fegley) and Elliott — as the dragon comes to be known — are enjoying a carefree life in the forest but civilization is beginning to intrude. Bryce Dallas Howard stars as forest ranger Grace Meacham while Robert Redford plays her father, a charming old guy who regales the children in town with stories of how he once encountered a dragon in those very woods.
Karl Urban plays the heavy — running the lumber company that is encroaching on Elliott’s habitat. Once he gets a glimpse of the dragon, he becomes determined to catch it.
“Pete’s Dragon” is every bit as heartwarming and entertaining as you would hope a movie like this would be. This is Disney at its sickeningly sweet best. There’s not a lot of story here and what there is you can predict every step of the way. But the actors are earnest and the dragon is fearsome yet adorable. The scenery is lovely and the special effects do the trick.
Elliott’s a real charmer, even though we know dragons aren’t really green and furry.