Disney has just released the 35th Anniversary Edition of Pete’s Dragon on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. I guess I might be giving away my age a bit, when I say I remember seeing Pete’s Dragon as a child. In my mind, its always been a timeless Disney classic that I looked forward to sharing with my children.
The film opens with Pete (Sean Marshall), a young orphan, being pursued by his abusive adoptive family, the Gogans. As the hillbillies search the woods for Pete, he and his magical dragon Elliott stay hidden and elude discovery. During the Gogans search, they sing a number “Happiest Home in These Hills”, the catchy song grabbed my children’s attention. I was concerned they would find the older feel and combination of animation and live action boring, but I was mistaken.
Pete and Elliott head to the small town of Passamaquoddy, hoping to make new friends and fit in. Unfortunately, the invisible Elliott stirs up some trouble as the large dragon seems to cause chaos everywhere he goes. Pete’s not exactly making a lot of friends dressed in dirty old clothes and telling everyone about his dragon that no one else can see. But when Lampie (Mickey Rooney), the eccentric town drunk sees Elliott and shares his news with the town, no one believes him.
Pete and Elliott, head out of town and find a cave down by the lighthouse to bunk in for the night where Nora discovers Pete. Helen Reddy plays Nora, the down-to-earth, lighthouse caretaker who becomes a mother figure to Pete. She takes him in, buys him new clothes and listens to him describe his best friend Elliott, without dismissing him. I love the song they sing together about Elliott “It’s not Easy”. The lyrics are great, “ Life is lollipops and raindrops with the one you love. Someone you can always be with, argue and agree with.”
The zany Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) and his sidekick Hoagy (Red Buttons) sail into town with their sideshow, promising the town residents miracles from his convoluted medicines. When the crazy doc realizes there’s an actual dragon in town, he smells a future of fame and fortune if he can just get his hands on the animal.
While the film was originally made in 1977, it feels more like its a 1950s production. The charm of Pete’s Dragon is its dated, vintage feel. Its a Disney classic full of wonderful songs, heartwarming moments and an important lesson.
Pete’s Dragon will always hold a special place in my heart, filled with childhood memories. The 35th Anniversary edition is a wonderfully restored version of this timeless classic. It was wonderful to watch Mickey Rooney, Jim Dale, Red Buttons and Helen Reddy.
Overall, the kids enjoyed the movie but I felt it was a bit too long and had some slow points that struggled to keep their attention. Of course, everyone needs to remember this film was made before all of Disney’s recent groundbreaking progress in animation. For children or adults unfamiliar with this classic, they may be disappointed if comparing it to a more recent Disney production or Pixar film.
Thank you to Disney for providing a copy of the fim for review purposes. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.