The original Pete’s Dragon is one of those movies that I know I just absolutely loved when I was a little kid, but for the life of me can’t remember. I honestly can’t recall any detail from that movie other than Mickey Rooney is in it and the dragon in question, Elliott, had a sturdy chin. Oh, but I loved it. It was one of those movies that was on cable a lot in the early 1980s. It’s also one of those movies I’ll most likely never watch again in my life because I’m just fine remembering it as “something I liked.”
I really don’t need to watch it with adult eyes, only to realize it’s bad. Do you really want a movie to ruin your childhood? It’s not the reboots that will do that, it’s going back and realizing a movie you loved is actually bad. “Oh, as a little kid I liked bad movies. Great.” No thank you! This is why I’ll never watch something like The Apple Dumpling Gang, or No Deposit, No Return, or a whole host of movies I liked in the early ‘80s. What’s the point? As far as I’m concerned, everything Don Knotts and Tim Conway starred in was a cinematic classic and I’m fine living the rest of my days thinking that.
So, as I headed into David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon, I had the mixed feelings of both, “I think of the title of this movie in a positive way,” and, “I’m not sure why a remake of this movie needs to exist.”
David Lowery is not the first person I’d think of when I hear the words “Pete’s Dragon remake.” This is a filmmaker who worked on Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color and directed the slow-burning Sundance favorite Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
So I guess it’s a little surprising that this new Pete’s Dragon isn’t “weird.” Yes, it features indie music from bands like The Lumineers* and it’s bristling with sincerity and earnestness – but it’s certainly not weird. It feels like a movie from a talented director who decided to make the best Pete’s Dragon remake possible, and he did.
(*Which, yeah, is a bit much sometimes and made me worry this was going to be a Garden State telling of Pete’s Dragon. Thankfully Pete’s Dragon never did wind up turning into Dragon State.)