Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

By Christian DiMartino

Once again, sorry for the tardiness. I’m trying to catch up people. But I’m only human.

Pete’s Dragon, to put it simply, is the kind of film they rarely make. And trust me, I mean that in a good way.

Here is a corny and somewhat manipulative film, but yet in that corn and manipulation lies an undeniably sweet movie. One that only comes across as corny because of its good will. It’s rare to find a film this innocent these days. Even when I was rolling my eyes, I was practically hugging myself. It’s very strange. But alas, that is where Pete’s Dragon earns its charm.

The film opens with a car accident, as Disney just loves to depress children these days. Pete, a young lad, is on a road trip with his folks when, in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer, the car crashes, killing the parents and leaving Pete alone in the woods. See? This is why I have run over two deer. Every man for himself.

Anyways, turns out he’s not actually alone. He soon ends up bumping into… a dragon of all creatures. But yet they form an immediate bond. Flash forward six years, and Pete and the Dragon, named Elliot (after a children’s book that his parents gave him) are still living in the woods. In fact, Pete has become something of a Tarzan type, minus the ape-ness.

But soon after the time jump, he is spotted by a park ranger, played genuinely by Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s a good actress, but yet I hardly ever like a character she plays. So this is a welcome surprise. Her father (Robert Redford) often tells people in the town that he’d had an encounter with the dragon before. Just hearing Redford tell such a story makes you feel a little cozy. Soon though, Pete is taken into town, and what follows his welcome back to reality, but also his attempt to keep Pete in the picture.

There isn’t really much new ground covered here. This is a remake of a film that I, admittedly, have never seen. But that aside, its plot developments aren’t anything too mind blowing.

Ah, but to hell with it! I, being the shallow bastard I am, tried to resist the charm of Pete’s Dragon. But to paraphrase Blondie: One way, or another, it’s gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha. It’s simply too kind hearted to avoid. Also, I liked the performances, and the dragon himself is quite the visual effect.

To summarize: Pete’s Dragon is as cozy as a sweater, and how much trash passes as family entertainment these days, I’m thankful to find one that actually works.

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