Disclaimer: I received complimentary admission to a screening of Pete’s Dragon to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
I wore out my Pete’s Dragon VHS as a kid, two times!! I loved the music, the dancing, the lovable dragon, and the story which I related to so much. My childhood wasn’t perfect and maybe a friendly little something would of made my life better. Disney had to remake/re-imagine my favorite duo and honestly they did a poor job!
In the last few years Disney has had the horrible idea to remake their classic, lovable movies. Cinderella is my favorite Disney princess. The Cinderella remake was ok, but not everything I hoped for. It was beautiful and still paid respect to her character. I can not say the same about Pete’s Dragon. I actually cried a lot in new version of this movie because they changed my Elliot and Pete so much in a negative way.
5 Ways the Live Action Pete’s Dragon Fails to Honor the Original
- Pete was made into a “Wild Child” type character. Pete was an orphan in the original and went through several homes and the last one was pretty abusive. He was raised by people though, just not nice ones. Pete is polite, tries to obey rules, and reaches out to people. In the new movie his story starts out very differently and makes it look like Pete was raised by Elliot. Pete acts like an animal, steals, and shys away from people. That is not the Pete I feel in love with as a child.
- Elliot was made into a monster. I rewatched my copy of the 1977 Pete’s Dragon this week and Elliot is very lovable. He is a mischief maker. Sure he protects Pete, but never scares people other than the ones that want to hurt Pete. Even when he is “scaring” those people it is VERY playful. Elliot swishes his tail to make some people fall into the mud or water. He makes scary, silly faces. When he breathes fire, nothing actually catches on fire. When Elliot “flipped” out in the new version, it crushed my image of the lovable, fun dragon that Elliot IS. I was crying so hard. Below is the “scariest” Elliot gets in the original.
- Elliot remains hunted in the new version. Elliot was deemed a town hero at the end of the original. The townspeople sing a song all about him. In the new version Elliot has to leave because he is not safe where he is and is relocated. Elliot gets visited by Pete and his new family. Elliot leaves in the old version to help another child in trouble.
- They forgot the music in the new version. The live version Jungle Book (which was also just an okay movie) got their well known tunes put into the film. The Original Pete’s Dragon had the best songs! The song Candle on the Water even won an academy award for best original song. My favorite songs are It’s So Easy and It’s a Razzle Dazzle Day!
- It only told Pete and Elliot’s Story. They missed Nora’s beautiful love story. The story that Elliot helped with. The story that added another storyline into the movie. They missed developing the villains story which again added depth to the original. In the original, you had the Grogans and the traveling conman side stories. The new movie has hints of other story lines, but they are never developed.
I know that the original Pete’s Dragon has themes and scenes that would be considered taboo for kids movies now. Drinking, smoking, and child abuse are strong themes in the movie, but as a child that went through some abuse myself I related to it. I understand changing the story some to make it more “PC” for this generation, but to change it so much that only the names are the same is wrong.
Disney, you tell wonderful original stories that make you one of the BEST movie creators! Zootopia, Frozen, and probably Moana are wonderful movies that will last a long time because they are original. My hope is that since Disney is in this remaking kick, that they honor and do justice to Beauty and the Beast coming out February 2017.
If you like the classic Disney movies, check out my review of The Reluctant Dragon!