Pete's Dragon (1977) - 5 stars out of 10
I have to begin my review of "Pete's Dragon" by saying how amazed I am at Disney's ability to make a cartoon dragon interact with live characters for the duration of the film. Disney has always been an innovative company and films like this show us why. I highly recommend watching the bonus featurette on the "Pete's Dragon" dvd to understand the complexity of the process to bring this film to life. "Pete's Dragon" is the story of a boy and his friend Elliot (who happens to be a dragon), and the small town that believe him to be an imaginary friend. The idea to portray this "imaginary friend" with animation in a live-action world is the perfect visual concept. The actual animation of the Dragon is very expressive and this is a reminder of why it was a huge loss for Disney when Don Bluth went his own way (and proceeded to create classic flims like Rock-A-Doodle...). At first, I was annoyed that the dragon couldn't talk and instead behaved like a dog, but in the context of the story those were the perfect attributes for Elliot. I wouldn't say that any of the acting is excellent but it is generally above average. I absolutely adored Helen Reddy in this role with perfect maternal instincts. Mickey Rooney made a good comic drunk and Sean Marshall had a beautiful singing voice. The highlight for me was Jim Dale as "Dr. Terminus" (a.k.a. Doc Ter-Menace), not only for his clever name but because his acting was the perfect amount over the top. Even though I was a bit disturbed that he was singing a song detailing how they will kill and chop up a dragon, “Every Little Piece” is incredibly catchy and was my favorite moment of the film. It's definitely not "Mary Poppins", but I was surprised and impressed with how good the music was. This film has a very child-friendly feel to it, but the Oscar-nominated song “Candle on the Water” is obviously intended for adults. This beautiful and moving piece of music gives us a short moment to forget about the dragon and get lost in the themes of loss and love before returning to the main story. "Pete's Dragon" isn't one of my favorite Disney movies and cannot compare to other live-action Disney films like "Mary Poppins," but the impressive animation and catchy music make this a film worth watching once.