Movie Review: Pete's Dragon...What The Hey? Go For It

08/11/2016 03:30 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2017

Ok, it's Disney. Oh please. Another tot film. Not so fast. Pete's Dragon starts predictably but as it opens its deep forest doors of New Zealand, a plot emerges and like a dragon, the plot soars.
• Robert Redford, always a delight to hear and to see narrates much of the beginning after a brief introduction of his talking to children about his recollection of seeing a dragon as a child. "It was magic. " The theme is just because you cannot see something does not mean it is not real. And so it goes. And so slowly, you, too, begin to believe in Pete's Dragon. It is of little importance that it is in CGI. When you meet La Dragon, you will be charmed.
• The film opens with a very soppy beginning. Parents talking during a car ride about their love of adventure. Their saccharin sweetness is so bad that you almost are relieved when they are blindsided by another car and killed. Pete played with brilliance by Oakes Fegley crawls out from under the demolished car and its debris, but his parents do not. A roar and a green, winged dragon appears and offers his furry hand to now orphaned Pete, who accepts and is placed on the charming dragon's back and they fly off to his lair.
• For six years Pete lives in a cave with his dragon that cares for him like a parent. Pete names the dragon Elliot after a book he had been reading in the car. He salvaged this from the crash.
• Oh it's easy to mock Pete's Dragon, but so unfair. Unwarranted. I enjoyed the film and the struggle Pete faces when he discovers lumberjacks pillaging Pete's beloved forest. Lumberjack manager Jack (Wes Bentley) discovers giant paw prints in the forest and begins to hunt Elliot whom he does not know is a dragon. Jack's girlfriend Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) comes upon Pete and takes him to her home to find out how he has survived six years in a forest alone. Well, he wasn't along. Elliot, his caretaker and surrogate father, is devastated to discover Pete missing and flies into town following Jack's truck. Elliot peers through a window at the tranquility of Pete and Grace and Jack's daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence). A downtrodden giant green dragon retreats to his cave in the forest heartbroken but wants the best for Pete who misses Elliot and manages to return to the forest with Grace and her father, Mr. Meacham. (Redford) The rangers get a whiff of a monster or giant loose in the forest. A fight for Elliot's life ensues and his ability to become invisible makes magic happen. Fearful townspeople hunt the dragon much as poachers hunt game today in Africa and Elliot is in danger.
• Gavin's desire to kill Elliot dominates the finale which is riveting
• You do not have to be a tot to enjoy Pete and his dragon. This engrossing fantasy of a film is guaranteed to put a smile on your--whatever. Don't poo poo Pete's Dragon. See it.