(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Pete's Dragon)
Doug (vo): Ah, Pete's Dragon. This is a movie I so desperately want to like, because there is obviously so much effort put into it, and there are some great songs, and there are some great effects, but...oh, it's just so corny! To me, it's kind of like a more restrained Babes in Toyland. There's some really cool stuff, but, God, it's just all over the place and so cheesy. But isn't that kind of what you would expect from Disney? I...uh...all right, let's look at the story.
Doug (vo): A boy named Pete is running away from home because he lives with a terrible family of rednecks. So he comes across a town called Passamaquoddy, and tries to see if he can fit in and find a new family. The trouble? Pete has a pet dragon, that can turn invisible whenever he wants. Of course, being Disney, the dragon is animated, but that still doesn't stop for some scenes still building a live-action version, like when he's covered in a net. That's actually pretty impressive. He does come across a kind woman and her father, who are looking to take him in, but his pet dragon keeps getting him into more and more trouble, and the more he has to keep invisible, the more the mother is afraid that, well, the dragon doesn't exist. But one person who does think he exists is our villain, and his bumbling sidekick. They want to capture the dragon and chop him up into a million pieces because, apparently, every part of a dragon can be used as some sort of tonic. There's even a song about it.
[That song sequence is shown]
Dr. Terminus and Hoagy: [Singing] Dragon cartilage keeps you thin, dragon fat is for burns. A dragon tear will clear up your skin...
Doug (vo): The #1 problem is that, unlike films like Bedknobs and Broomsticks or Mary Poppins where they never quite wink too much to the camera or never fully let in how cheesy it all is, this kind of does. It's hard to say. Everyone just seems a bit too over-the-top. Even the kid that's supposed to be sort of the normal nice kid is a little too over-the-top normal nice. There's nothing much to him. The only characters that really seem to find that right balance, even though they are still over-the-top, is the mother, who seems to have a fun but tough attitude about her, and the villain, who, of course, is such a cliche with the top hat and the big mustache, but, oh, it just looks like he's having so much fun. It's hard not to kind of laugh with him. I guess you could argue sort of the over-the-top take on it is part of the charm, but I don't know. For me, it's just a little too silly.
[The film's sequences with the animated dragon are shown, as well as some of the song sequences]
Doug (vo): Which is not to say there isn't a lot of stuff to admire. Like I said, the animation on the actual dragon is really good. It does lead to a lot of really good effects when they have to make him invisible. The songs are a lot of fun, again, most of them coming from the villain. And like I said, I do enjoy the villain himself, and the mother character. But I think the story is just a little too all over the place, again, kind of like Babes in Toyland. And the main character is so dull, and you just don't care what happens to him. And even the songs, as good as they are, don't keep that much focus. I mean, there's a scene where the father sees the dragon and he goes in and he starts singing about it, and it just goes on forever. It leads into this gigantic musical number just about how nobody believes him, and it's just like...yeah, it's cool, but why are we singing this about whether or not they saw a dragon? It's like, where did this come from? Why should we be invested in it? In fact, are you even singing about the dragon anymore?
Doug (vo): It's in your face and not the least bit subtle, and I guess I would understand if that did find an audience, and it did. The movie did well, and I still know there's people that watch it even today. I'd be lying if I said I didn't watch it a few times for the elements I listed before, but anything else I watch it for is more just for kind of mockery of it. I mean, that redneck family is so silly, and these song sequences are so goofy. And everything is just so played up and not subtle that, I don't know, I guess there's sort of something fun about that, but I don't think it makes for technically a well put together film, but rather a giant mess that has some good elements to it. As a whole, I think it's just too overblown. Take it for what it's worth and see for yourself.
[The film's final scene, showing the dragon, Elliott, flying away as the main characters wave goodbye, is shown]