review for Pete's Dragon on AllMovie

Pete's Dragon (1977)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

Following in the tradition of hybrid classics like Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete's Dragon is a live-action musical adventure where real people interact with Disney-style animated characters. Namely, a cartoon giant dragon named Elliot that is occasionally invisible. It was a big hit at the box office at the time of release, and even was nominated for two Academy Awards, for the musical score and the song "Candle on the Water." Made during a bit of a rocky time for Disney, this is still just a mediocre effort and mostly just good for nostalgia value. The hammy overacting is almost unbearable, particularly an over-the-top Mickey Rooney as lighthouse keeper Lampie and shrill Helen Reddy as his daughter, Nora. Acting veterans Shelley Winters and Red Buttons also make exaggerated appearances. The animation is subpar, but it marks one of the last projects by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman before they left Disney and went to make classics like An American Tail. This movie is no classic by critical standards, but it has enjoyed a long life on home video with younger viewers. For its 1984 re-release, Pete's Dragon was cut down to 104 minutes, but was restored to its original length for the 2001 DVD release.