Pete's Dragon (1977)

Sean Marshall as Pete with Elliott in Pete's Dragon (1977)

Pete's Pink Haired Dragon

On the run form his adopted parents, the nasty Gogan's, young Pete (Sean Marshall) and his invisible dragon Elliott make their way to Passamaquoddy, Maine in the hope they will be accepted. Well it doesn't go well for young Pete as Elliott innocently causes trouble in the town but kindly Nora (Helen Reddy) who helps run the lighthouse with her father Lampie (Mickey Rooney - That's Entertainment!) takes Pete in. But that is not the end of Pete's troubles as the Gogan's are still after him and Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale - Carry on Again Doctor) with his fake medicine shows up in Passamaquoddy and when he hears about Pete's dragon spies a money making opportunity.

In fairness when I sat down to watch "Pete's Dragon" again I couldn't remember anything of the storyline from when I watched it back in the 70s and in all fairness it is quite forgettable. But the simplicity of watching orphan Pete find a new home with Nora and Lampie in Passamaquoddy is just right for the target audience. And so is all the cartoon villainy from Pete's mean adopted parents the Gogan's wanting to get him back through to the devious Dr. Terminus looking at a money making opportunity by getting Elliott. It's classic Disney villainy, bad guys who are over the top and fall victim to various prat falls.

Mickey Rooney and Jim Dale in Pete's Dragon (1977)

But it has to be said that whilst "Pete's Dragon" will still entertain younger audiences you can bet some older audiences would now find various elements of this tale plainly wrong. Put it this way we have a run away, a mean abusive family, a town of mean people, a devious Dr. who wants to chop up Elliott and we must not forget a certain line about a medicine which will bring on puberty 2 years early. Trust me there is plenty in "Pete's Dragon" which some adults these days could complain about whilst forgetting that this is a movie purely made for young audiences who will enjoy the fun of a mischievous dragon and his friendship with the pleasant Pete without even noticing any of this stuff.

Of course by today's high standards the animations in "Pete's Dragon" often look ropey especially when we have Elliott and Pete together. But in a way "Pete's Dragon" was never about wowing audiences with great animation but all about the comical fun of Elliott and the warmth of his friendship with Pete. And on that note you can say the same about the few musical numbers as whilst they are nice, they're not memorable but do the job of delivering fun and warmth.

Hating to sound like a broken record the actual performances in "Pete's Dragon" are not that memorable either. Oh Jim Dale is wonderfully over the top as Dr. Terminus, Red Buttons seems to be imitating Stanley Laurel as his sidekick Hoagy and Mickey Rooney is full off funny faces but none of it stays with you in the same way as other Disney characters. But they are often outshone by young Sean Marshall who not only delivers the expected likeability but also has such great comic timing especially when delivering the comedy of being nudged by Elliott.

What this all boils down to is that "Pete's Dragon" is dated and to be honest feels inferior when comparing to other Disney movies but it is still as charming and as much fun as ever. "Pete's Dragon" is simply an innocent and enjoyable children's movie with an invisible friendly dragon and what can be more fun than a mischievous dragon, especially one with pink hair.