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Pete's Dragon: High-Flying Edition - animated DVD / family and children's DVD / classic Disney DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Jeff Conaway, Shelley Winters
Director: Don Chaffey Distributor: Walt Disney Video
DVD release: 18 August 2009 Feature runtime: 129 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DVD, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.66:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English), Brazzle Dazzle Effects, Deleted storyboard sequence: "Terminus & Hoagy Hunt Elliot," Original song concept: "Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You, Too)," Original demo recordings (audio only), Promotional record (audio only), "Where's Elliot?" The Disappearing Dragon game, Pete's Dragon art galleries, Publicity, Trailers, About Pete's Dragon, Disney Family Album, The Plausible Impossible, Lighthouse Keeping

Nobody thinks that Pete's dragon is anything other than make-believe. His adoptive family, the Gogans, have never seen Elliot (the dragon), and as this family-friendly family adventure begins, they are hunting for Pete. He's got chores to do, and sure-as-shootin' they're not gonna do them. Pete (Sean Marshall) manages to elude them and escapes to the nearby town of Passamaquoddy. Pete asks Elliot (voiced by Charlie Callas) to remain invisible when they go into town, but Elliot is just too big and curious not to make an impression.

Lampie (Mickey Rooney), the lighthouse keeper, sees the huge green dragon while at the pub, but nobody will believe him; he spends a good amount of time in an altered state (recall this was 1977, when drunkards could still be laughed at). After his daughter, Nora (Helen Reddy), takes him home from the pub and puts him to bed, she sees Pete walking along the beach by the lighthouse and decides to meet him. Elliot hides in a cave down on the beach while Pete and Nora get acquainted up at the lighthouse.

Nora falls for the lad - he's pleasant and smart and she accepts Elliot as any adult would accept a child's imaginary friend. The two seem a good match. The only thing that could impede their togetherness is the Gogans' search for Pete. Add to that the opportunistic nature of snake-oil salesman Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale), who has a use for most parts of a dragon, and you have the conflict.

The original songs in Pete's Dragon are amusing but mostly not too memorable. The film itself is pleasant, but what most gets my attention is the appearances of so many stars. Shelley Winters stars as Lena Gogan, and one of her sons is played by Jeff Conaway of Grease and Taxi fame. Mickey Rooney's presence is accentuated by Red Buttons, who plays Dr. Terminus' assistant Hoagy. Jim Dale, who plays Terminus, has done excellent voice work on the Harry Potter audiobooks as well as in Pushing Daisies.

Pete's Dragon is not a bad family film. The merging of an animated character and live-action is a lot easier nowadays. They did admirable work, but don't expect Lord of the Rings. It's less than perfect, but with the tools that existed in 1977, it's also pretty awesome.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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