This is the third film that I have seen in a row (Anthropoid and Indignation) that I was left crying at the conclusion. Am I really a decent movie reviewer or am I mentally ill?
Pete’s Dragon is one of those Disney films that will rip your heart out, mend it, and then rip it out again. The film is surprisingly poignant, and if you are remotely like me you will be wiping tears from your eyes during the last third of the movie.
Broken down to its basics, young Oakes Fegley is absolutely mesmerizing as he plays Pete, a little boy left in the woods after he survives a car wreck that killed his parents. As he stands alone, crying and confused, a pack of wolves circle him, only to have a dragon suddenly appear that saves him.
Pete and his dragon, called Elliot, befriend each other, and the movie jumps six years into the future when adventure begins. Robert Redford adds strength to the film, here playing Meacham, a crusty old resident of the northwest who delights young kids with stories of dragons. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a park ranger, simply shakes her head and pursues a job she loves. Needless to say, Pete and Grace eventually interact, and she hopes to help him survive in the real world while dealing with her caustic brother-in-law (Karl Urban) who seeks nothing but fame and fortune no matter what the cost.
Don’t be disturbed by the hokey premise of the film, as it centers on family, love and holding out a helping hand for those in need. As noted earlier, the film spins an emotional web that will wrap you tightly in its cinematic cocoon.
The film is helped by a number of very good performances, and you have to begin with Mr. Redford. Nobody has ever exceeded his skill at playing a decent guy. Mr. Urban is quite good at playing a self centered prick as demonstrated in his role as Dr. McCoy in the recent Star Trek films, and he inevitably proves to be a guy you want around in a tough spot despite his flaws.
In addition, Oona Lawrence will hold your attention as Natalie, Grace’s young daughter. She is roughly the same age as Pete, and they lock arms to find a way to save Elliot. Yet it is Ms. Howard who is the anchor to this film, and I want to assure you that she wears tennis shoes chasing after Elliot as opposed to the 4 inch heels she continually wore while running from dinosaurs in the recent Jurassic World.
This is really a movie that you should try to see. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to take a van full of grade school kids from central Indianapolis for a movie outing?