SO ok. I feel like most of my posts lately have started with an apology. I know this summer, I have been a little lax in posting. Summer has been busy y’all. And hot. And that combination has led to a lot of sitting on the couch with my mouth agape and my forehead sweaty whenever I get free time. This is an especially fun activity when you have a leather couch. And when I say “fun” I mean “skin-ripping.”
But. BUT. I come out of the shadows to lay naked myself and shout to the mountains (once again), “I WAS WRONG.” Yes it doesn’t happen often (once a day at the most) but yes, I was very very wrong. And yes, this appears to be a theme this summer.
I had assumed the new live-action Pete’s Dragon would be terrible. But psst…
Lean your ear this way….
In fact, it was pretty great. And believe me, I wanted to not like it. As you recall from my original Pete’s Dragon post, the 1977 original is a film I quite enjoy. And I wanted to shun this impostor. This movie that claims the title of Pete’s Dragon, but none of what I loved about the original. “Where is the music?” I wanted to shout. “Why isn’t everyone drunk?” I wanted to loudly inquire. “Where is the implied child abuse and slave labor?” I um wanted to whisper quietly to myself. But despite all that, I loved LOVED this movie.
In fact, at the end of the movie, I found a comparison to the original to be a futile exercise. It’s SUCH a different movie that I really do feel like it should be treated as such. My boys asked me when we walked out of the theater if I liked it better than the original. And I told them this was an impossible comparison and I would not do it. Then I punished them for 2 weeks for even asking me. This is in contrast to Disney’s other live-action remake earlier this summer, The Jungle Book, which couldn’t help but be compared to the original. Oh BTW, I wrote a review on that one here.
And in fact, that was the comparison I kept coming back to for this movie seemed to have much more in common with The Jungle Book than the original Pete’s Dragon. Orphaned boy living alone in the forest? Check. Lovable, furry friend? Check. Moving on and growing up? Check. Wayne crying? Check. And if that is the comparison being made, I would have to say I liked Pete’s Dragon better than The Jungle Book.
But I literally loved everything about this movie. The whole cast played their parts well. I thought Oakes Fegley was a great Pete. I thought his performance was realistic and communicated well wrestling with where he belongs. To me, he played his character stuck between two worlds, one offering the comfort, love and protection of childhood, the other an unknown offering growth, belonging and family. And while he wasn’t a lovable old drunk, Robert Redford was also a standout as the one character that’s been around long enough to see what’s really there.
And Elliot. He was totez adorbz. I want one.
But that’s sort of what this movie is. If I had one word to describe it, I would say “cute.” Unfortunately, I think for some this word takes on a negative connotation. Like being cute means it’s devoid of substance or importance. But I disagree. I think we all need a little “cute” now and then. If done the right way, cute can still pack a wallop. And this movie does a really nice job of being cute without causing a toothache. It could have gone a lot more cutesy but it didn’t. Despite it being so fantastical, it still had a sense of “real” to it.
I think this is due in large part to its simplicity. OK yeah I know. It’s a movie about a dragon so simplicity may seem like a weird descriptor to use. Everything surrounding this Pete and Elliot universe, though, is so simple and so real that it all has an air of authenticity to it.
And beyond that is the overall structure of the film. There is no real “moral” here. Nor is there an actual villain beyond a misinformed lumberjack. Hey, that’s a pretty good band name. Misinformed Lumberjack.
And what actually happens in the movie (the plot) you can kind of see from a mile away. But for some reason, all of this worked in the movie’s favor. Because with all of this becoming secondary, the emotions driving the movie take center stage. There is so much love in this movie, so much friendship; I literally felt my heart swelling. Right in the feels.
This movie felt like a big warm hug. When I left this movie, I did it smiling. And my kids left this movie smiling. The whole theater, adults and children alike, applauded when it ended. And I just felt “good” after it. It’s so hard to explain. Sure – I can point to some specifics that I liked. The cast. Elliot. The soundtrack. But the sum of this movie was bigger than all its parts. Because the movie as a whole made me feel something. It made me feel happy. And I am kinda into movies like that.
And like so many Disney movies have done in the past, this one gave me a little bit of magic to believe in.And while I am doubtful I will run into any dragons soon, I don’t mind maybe a little part of me believing it could be possible.
Oh and also….6 Gary Colemans dressed as Mr. T for this one.