Pete’s Dragon has always been one of Disney’s more underrated works. While it isn’t the first time that the company has gone the direction of live action/animation, it has never really garnered the acclaim of other Disney works such as Song of The South or Mary Poppins. Why that’s the case is anybody’s guess. But one can’t deny its importance in the overall history of Disney releases. While it has never stood out like other movies that mix live action and animation, the story’s focus on family makes it just as touching as other previous Disney movies. Here audiences are introduced to Pete (Sean Marshall), a young orphan who wants nothing other than a family of his own. Through his big green friend, Elliot, Pete is brought to a small seaside town where he eventually meets what would become his family.
Pete does eventually get his own family. But in the meantime, his big green friend, Elliot the dragon, is Pete’s family. He’s also Pete’s friend. If for nothing else, Pete’s lovability makes the story worth at least one watch. Elliot may be a big magical dragon. But he’s little more than a puppy in his personality. He just wants to make Pete happy. It doesn’t matter how old or young a person is. Audiences of all ages will instantly fall in love with Elliot because of his kind and peaceful nature. He’s peaceful until someone messes with Pete, that is. Then and only then do audiences see Elliot’s bad side. Even then, audiences will root for him because of his devotion to Pete. Again, he shows his devotion both as a friend and caretaker. That devotion alone will keep audiences watching and cheering.
The message of family is an important factor in the success of Pete’s Dragon. But it’s only one part of what made the movie so enjoyable. While it wasn’t the first of its kind to cross animation and live action, it was one more that would pave the way for the modern practice of crossing CG and live action. With the new BD/DVD combo pack presentation of the movie, audiences are treated to an in-depth history lesson of Disney’s history of combining animation and live action. It even pays tribute to animation great Max Fleischer. Fleischer is best known for his work on the famed Superman cartoon series. He is hailed as an originator in the animation style that would give way to what audiences see in Disney’s mix of live action and animation through its history. Anyone who has any interest in movie production and special effects will appreciate the lesson showing how much work really went into making Pete’s Dragon come to life. That is especially the case considering seeing Disney’s beginnings compared to what it had to work with in Pete’s Dragon.
The movie’s story and the bonus making of feature go a long way toward showing how underappreciated Pete’s Dragon is. There is at least one more factor that audiences should take into account in considering the movie’s importance. That factor is the movie’s musical numbers. Given the musical numbers abound throughout the two hour plus story. But that the movie attempts to balance its old school musical style with the musical style of the time makes it just as interesting. Pete’s Dragon came on the hells of the pop TV sitcom fad of the 60’s and 70’s. Shows such as The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Monkees, and Josie and the Pussycats had all gone by the wayside. But it’s obvious that here, there are still hints of the era’s musical style mixed in with the Broadway style musical numbers. That attempt to bridge two cultures makes for plenty of discussions in itself.
Given what has been noted here, audiences will see that while it may never have the acclaim of its predecessors, it is in its own right a movie that every family should see together at least once. From the musical numbers to the message of family to that of friendship, Pete’s Dragon offers audiences more than perhaps they might have otherwise considered. It’s an underrated work that deserves at least one watch, especially now that it’s available on a new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. It’s available in stores and online. It can be ordered online at http://www.disneystore.com/petes-dragon-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack-35th-anniversary-edition/mp/1320010/1000233/.
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