Pete's Dragon (G)
AFI Catalog; Disney Movies; Disney Wiki; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Disney+; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube
This came out in 1977, when I was 2 years old. I must have watched it more than once in the 1980s, but I'm writing this review in 2021, after watching it on DVD for the first time in decades. And I must say, I liked it even more than I remembered, though a big part of that is probably how nostalgic I find it. I'd say all the songs are fairly memorable, most notably "Brazzle Dazzle Day".
A boy named Pete is running away from the Gogans, a family of hillbillies who had "bought" him from an orphanage. So they treat him like a slave. Pete is aided in his escape by his friend Elliott, a dragon who is sometimes animated and sometimes invisible. The two of them make their way to the town of Passamaquoddy, where Elliott causes trouble for which Pete gets blamed, since people usually can't see the dragon. However, a lighthouse keeper called Lampie (Mickey Rooney) does see Elliott at one point, and is terrified of him. Of course, no one believes he actually saw a dragon, at least in part because he's often drunk. Anyway, Pete later meets Lampie's daughter, Nora (Helen Reddy), who takes him in and cares for him. She humors his talk about having a dragon for a friend, but she doesn't believe it.
Meanwhile, a traveling snake oil salesman named Dr. Terminus comes to Passamaquoddy, along with his assistant, Hoagy. The townsfolk remember Terminus as a charlatan, and don't want them in their town, but he soon changes their minds. And when Terminus eventually learns that there's a dragon in town, he hopes to buy it from Pete, so he can dissect it and use its various parts to make medicines to sell. Of course, Pete won't sell Elliott (who doesn't really belong to him, anyway), so Terminus then comes up with a plan to capture Elliott, with help from the Gogans, after he helps them recapture Pete.
There's also a subplot about how Nora's fiancé, Paul, had disappeared at sea a year ago. She still hopes he'll return someday, and Pete sends Elliott out to look for him.
Well, I think I've said enough about the plot. So I'll just say I liked the songs, and found the movie both amusing and moving. And I'm really glad to have seen it again.
There was a remake in 2016, with a CGI dragon. I hope to see that someday.