(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Pete's Dragon (2016))
Doug (vo): So I tried watching the remake of Pete's Dragon a long time ago, and I'm not gonna lie, I turned it off after the first five minutes. With the whimsical music and the inspiring stares and people saying lines like...
Mr. Meacham: See, my daughter, she knows a thing or two, but only if it's staring at her in the face. If you go through life only seeing what's right in front of you, you're gonna miss out on a whole lot.
Doug (vo): Oh, my God, stop! Stop! Stupid movie! St-stop! But a lot of my friends were encouraging me to give it a second chance, so I decided to put it on, watch it all the way through, and...yeah, I'm glad they did. Pete's Dragon truly does have some wonderful moments in it, some just OK moments in it, and, yeah, like I said before, some pretty bad moments in it. But the bad moments aren't as much as I thought, and I'm still kind of glad I saw it.
Doug (vo): Pete is a little boy whose parents are just so goldarn happy that they must die in the next few seconds...oh! Right on cue. And he seems to come across an invisible dragon that makes himself visible, and they form a friendship over the years. As time passes, a ranger discovers him, takes him in, and tries to find out where he came from. Pete is, of course, a confused wild child, doesn't really remember the civilization that he came from, and naturally has trouble fitting in. But as time goes on, he does learn to lower his defenses and eventually calm down and accept these people as a family. While that's going on, though, his dragon, named Elliot, is looking through all the forest and the neighborhoods to find him, and wouldn't you know it? The brother-in-law of the ranger saw the dragon, wants to hunt him down, and blah-blah-blah, you know the drill. Pete says his dragon is real, his new family doesn't believe him, and at the very end, he'll be revealed that he is real... (A scene showing Pete introducing his new family to Elliot is shown) ...or rather in the middle. Huh. That's...interesting. Okay, I'll give credit. They usually do this big reveal at the end, but they're doing it in the middle. Where are they gonna go from here...? (A scene showing one of the supporting characters, Gavin, tranquilizing Elliot is shown) Oh, this bullshit!
Doug (vo): So, yeah. It seems like there's almost three competing kids' movies here. One is the really corny, whimsical, wishy-washy stuff, another is a very mature, slow-moving, yet interesting story, and the last third is...I don't know, Follow That Bird? It's just kind of one big chase scene, when we could be using this time dedicated to the kid either connecting more to the family or even connecting more to Elliot.
(Scenes focusing on both Pete and Elliot the dragon are shown)
Doug (vo): It's funny, because as much as Pete and Elliot are actually very enjoyable to watch on their own...the boy is very believable and literally hopping from place to place and looking truly lost, and the dragon, while he looks fake, is still very expressive, and without saying any words, he still gets across a lot of character. Nevertheless, they surprisingly don't have a ton of connection. I guess there's a hint at the beginning and a hint at the end, both, strangely enough, involving looking at the North Star. But aside from that, it's just him flying the dragon around, going, "Yay! Whee! Whoo-hoo!", and that's supposed to be a connection. We've seen that in a million films, and it doesn't really show how their personalities work off each other. Scenes like Pete asking Elliot what he's looking at and Elliot moaning while looking at the star and Pete puts his head on his belly, scenes like that really work, and there's not much dialogue. But oddly enough, most of the movie, they're separated, so we don't really get too much of a connection.
(Footage focusing on Elliot, mainly all his interactions with other humans, is shown)
Doug (vo): I also have to admit, I'm disappointed that it's not left open to interpretation whether or not the dragon is real. I mean, they reveal very early on that the hunters are looking for this dragon, they see him, they shoot at him, and like I said, in the middle of the movie, the family sees the dragon. How much more interesting would this be if nobody else saw the dragon except the boy? Like, there's a scene where the dragon is peeking through the window, and the boy is really liking the family, and the dragon feels really sad. How much more interesting would it be if that was left open to the boy's imagination, like, he feels like he's letting another life down subconsciously? This would be so fascinating! But, nope. He's just real, and people go after him with the guns, and he breathes fire at them, and they just scream, and...oh, who gives a shit?
(Several supporting characters are shown)
Doug (vo): There's other little things that get to me, too, like Robert Redford is way too all-knowing in this. Like, when he sees the dragon, even though he tells everybody he's seen it for years, when he actually sees it with his own eyes, he just goes, "Magic", and I'm thinking, "No! He should be, like, teary-eyed, he should be dropping to his knees like, "My God! There it is! I've been vindicated!"". Characters like the stepdad are completely pointless. You could have cut this character out and not miss a thing. In fact, you didn't have to have it his brother that's going after the dragon, you could've had that be the stepdad, 'cause he's not really a supervillain, he's just kind of a jerky guy who doesn't understand, and at the end, like, yeah, he's okay. He just didn't know. That could've been the father character, it could've connected to bringing their family closer. In fact, all this talk about "It's not about what you see, it's about what you feel, it's about what you perceive" and all this stuff about faith and belief, why didn't they play more into that? Maybe the adults can see the dragon, or maybe adults that still have a little bit of a childish mind or something, and Pete helps show them that childish mind, but some people are too far gone and can't see it, something like Polar Express, I don't know. There's so much more you could do with this.
Doug (vo): But then again, I had to remind myself, I'm saying this about a remake of Pete's Dragon. (Clips from the original are briefly shown) Yeah, this film. Honestly, I'm kind of impressed with the OK movie that I got. It's different enough that it doesn't feel like it's just a rehash of the original, but it's also following in the vein just enough, a boy lost in the woods, finds a dragon, has to get a new family. This is more the vein of remakes I'd like to see Disney attempt, except, you know, less punch-in-the-face whimsical music and dialogue that sounds very Bridge to Terabithia-y. So I don't know. I guess it is the best of the Disney live-action remakes I've seen, but given the Disney live-action remakes, that's not saying a ton. Still, I'm glad I saw it. I'm glad I saw it for the boy, I'm glad I saw it for some of the other actors, I'm glad I saw it for the dragon, I'm glad I saw it for the ideas they were starting to go with, they just never followed all the way through with them. Nothing great, but OK enough for me to say check it out.
(One of the film's final scenes, showing Elliot flying off on his own into the sunset, is shown)