Pete's Dragon - Disney remakes their own 1977 live action/animation musical family movie, but without the music and with an entirely different story. After a car crash strands 5-year-old Pete in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, he meets a furry green dragon which he names Elliott. The dragon takes the boy under his wing and helps raise him for the next several years. The older (but still a kid) Pete (Oakes Fegley) finally comes to the attention of the outside world when he helps a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence). Natalie's mom Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a forest ranger, and she takes the boy back home with them to try and find out who is and where his family is. Elliott gets noticed by Grace's lumberjack brother-in-law Gavin (Karl Urban) who becomes determined to capture the dragon. Pete, Natalie, Grace and her father (Robert Redford), who also once saw the dragon many years ago, must try and protect Elliott from the outside world. Also featuring Wes Bentley and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
The original movie was no classic, except to a certain segment that saw it at the right age when it could hit the right note. I wasn't one of those viewers. However, it's really a moot point when the remake bears so little resemblance to the original. This is very much a PG-rated heart-tugger, with a furry, cuddly dragon that more resembles a big goofy dog than a scaly monster. The movie is set in the 1980s for that extra dollop of Gen-X nostalgia, although the film doesn't belabor the point. In fact, the soundtrack is filled with a lot of adult contemporary folksie alternative songs, the kind I like to call "granola rock", as they remind me of young guys with long beards, wearing flannel while they hike in Oregon and fight for environmental causes (which I support, too, btw, in case you were thinking I had a political grudge against the movie). Having the "bad guys" as commercial loggers who spend their days chopping down the forests where Elliott and Pete lives isn't exactly subtle, either, but again, the movie doesn't really make a big issue out of it, although I kept expecting it to. The CGI dragon is life-like and expertly rendered. I wasn't crazy about the lead kid, as he seemed a bit forced at times. There really wasn't a lot to the story, and the plot moves exactly where you think it will. Again, I wouldn't call this awful, just not very imaginative or inspired. This wound up on several critics' best of the year lists, so you may like it more than I did. 6/10