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||IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 from 6 votes
||Release: 5 October 1978 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical
||Director: Malcolm Marmorstein,
||Stars: Al Checco, Cal Bartlett, Charles Tyner, Charlie Callas, Gary Morgan, Helen Reddy, Jane Kean, Jeff Conaway, Jim Backus, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Sean Marshall, Shelley Winters, Walter Barnes
||Synopsis: In New England in the early 20th century, Pete is a nine-year-old orphan escaping from his brutal adoptive parents, the Gogans, with his only friend, a cartoon dragon named Elliott. They successfully escape to Passamaquoddy, Maine, and live with Nora, a lighthouse keeper, and her father, Lampie. Elliott is sought for medicinal purposes by the corrupt Dr. Terminus. Written by Matthew Anscher <[email protected]>
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Watch Pete's Dragon - Alternative Versions.
Too many people spend too much time comparing Disney movies to each other,
as if to say that every Disney movie made should unfold in such a way as
easily identify it as a "Disney Movie." That's a shame, as each movie
be judged on it's own contributions to the motion picture lexicon.
Fortunately for Pete's Dragon, it contributes something that is essential
and valuable to a child's world: fun.
There's nothing too serious in Pete's Dragon. Granted, the catalyst
the action in the film is a boy running away from an abusive family, only
encounter an equally abusive society (not to mention a scheming charlatan
who wants to capture - and kill - Pete's Dragon for his own monetary
but all involved in the production are aware that their target audience is
children, and so all of the aforementioned is handled with kid gloves. The
best example of this is the acting.
The cast does their best to have fun with their character and, as
contributes greatly to the light-hearted tone of the film. In particular,
the villains are played with great, over-the-top gusto, which is exactly
what is needed in a kids movie. You want to teach children a lesson, not
scare the crap out of them. As such, Shelley Winters as Ma Gogan and Jim
Dale as Doc Terminus are classic kiddie villains: Winters stomps through
scenes in a bluster of hilarious hillbilly kookiness, while Dale steals
every scene he's in - and nearly the whole show - in a deliciously
role that should have one him an oscar - seriously!
Any actor can bring on the tears and boo-hoo their way through an
"emotionally intense" role; they're a dime a dozen. It takes a real actor
come up with the kind of performance Dale did, in which every line of
dialogue is nailed, and his voice and his body seem to be in completely in
synch with each other and with the character. There is not one word left
untouched by his genius. Especially fun are his interactions with his
sidekick, Hoagy, played by Red Buttons. The two are perfect comic foils.
They are no matches, however, for the straight-shooting
Nora (Helen Reddy), along with her father Lampie (Mickey Rooney) tend
to the local lighthouse. It is in these two characters that children find
their protectors. In any kids movie, there needs to be at least one
character on screen with which children can find comfort and solace. Reddy
plays Nora as a down-to-earth, take no bull lady who becomes a mother
to Pete. Rooney plays Lampie as a drunken old coot who rides the fence
Pete until about halfway through, at which time he, too, joins the side of
good. There's a lesson in this movie for adults, too.
Nora and Lampie both learn a little about life from Pete. Nora had
decided to keep people at arm's length for fear of losing them (as she did
her beau, a seaman who was lost at sea). Through her encounters with Pete,
she learns to open up and allow love back into her life, this time in the
form of motherly love. Lampie, too, becomes attached to the kid, and,
throughout the process of his daughter and Pete bonding, learns that
more to life than the bottle: there's family. These, really, are important
lessons for adults, and ones that are never dated, rather, always
to any time and place. So is the lesson for children.
At the heart of Pete's Dragon is a simple message for children: hold
tight to all that is right, no matter how bad life gets, and good things
will come. Pete escapes a horrid life slaving away for the wretched Gogan
family, only to run into the arms of a civilized society that looks down
him because of he's an outsider. He's anything but welcomed, and when
start going wrong, he's the first one to be blamed. No matter how hard he
tries, society won't believe him, or accept him. He could easily make the
wrong choice: give in and become the ruffian they all think he is or,
do what society did to him, and turn his back on his friend, Elliot, who
partly to blame for Pete's predicament, as he pulls pranks while he's
invisible, leaving Pete to take the rap. In the end, his perseverance pays
off: the town embraces him and he gets a family. This lesson is learned,
is to be expected in a musical, with a song and a dance.
The musical numbers are by far the weakest element in the movie. The
songs are simple, yet they work (believe me, after you watch the movie,
you'll find yourself spontaneously singing the choruses the next day). The
dancing is the most difficult to digest, as it is often stiff and
That's okay, though, as the story and the acting more than make up for it.
When all is said and done, Pete's Dragon is everything a kids movie should
be: educating and entertaining.
Tags for Pete's Dragon Full Movie
, Cal Bartlett
, Charles Tyner
, Charlie Callas
, Gary Morgan
, Helen Reddy
, Jane Kean
, Jeff Conaway
, Jim Backus
, Jim Dale
, Mickey Rooney
, Red Buttons
, Sean Marshall
, Shelley Winters
, Walter Barnes
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