PETE’S DRAGON (1977)
Article 4479 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Don Chaffey
Featuring Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale
What it is: Disney fantasy
A dragon saves a young boy from an abusive family. Can he find a home for him in a nearby town as well?
This ambitious Disney combination of live-action and animation is sometimes cute, sometimes effective, and is quite colorful. I also have no doubt that it has its fans; any Disney children’s movie is probably going to be some child’s first taste of cinematic magic. But at 128 minutes, I found myself frequently feeling itchy and seeking to take breaks, especially when the folks at hand burst into another song; I would gladly jettison nearly half of the musical numbers in this one. The incessant broadness of the acting is also a sticking point as well; with almost everyone in the cast playing as big as possible, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards Helen Reddy as my favorite performer here, as she’s the only one who seemed to opt to play a recognizable human being and not an overwrought cliche. Maybe I would have loved it if I’d seen it as a kid, but I also suspect that I might have gotten bored with some of the musical numbers as well. At any rate, I don’t consider this Disney at its best.