Pete's Dragon review - Mind the Baby

Can I take my kids to see: Pete’s Dragon

Before I take the small boy to see a PG rated film, I usually do an Internet scour and annoy my friends who’ve seen it already to find out if its going to scare the living daylights out of him, and its usually the opinions of friends I rely on because the Internet often comes up short with specific information on suitability for smallies. 

Since I’m always looking for the information, I’m guessing others are too so I’ve decided to start a regular series of film reviews for those with younger kids like me. Hopefully it’ll help give you the information you need for your family. A warning also that the reviews will be full of spoilers because you need to know about the scary stuff and the stuff that’s going to get you in hot water with some uncomfortable questions! Here’s my first review:

Pete’s Dragon (PG)

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon has just been released in cinemas in Ireland and is rated PG.

What’s the story?

Following a car crash deep in the woods somewhere in the States that kills his parents, 5 year old Pete is rescued by a friendly flying dragon he names Elliott. After 6 years of living happily together undiscovered, Pete and Elliott finally stumble across other humans in the form of Forest Ranger, Bryce Dallas Howard and then the super mild “bad guys”, loggers Karl Urban (Dr McCoy in the new Star Treks) and his crew who are cutting down more trees than they should be. Of course, that’s when things start to go wrong…

Oh also! Robert Redford is in it! He looks old.

Is it any good?

This is a really lovely film. Kids and adults will enjoy it on different levels. My five year old got a bit bored at the more talky bits in the middle, while I sat beside him trying to pretend I wasn’t crying like a baby. He really enjoyed the dragon-y and action bits with all the flying and mucking around the forest. He also announced to the cinema that it was “very enjoyable” at the end, so obviously he wasn’t too bored! There’s a few parts which are likely to be lost on smaller kids while all the adults sniffle in their tissues (or weep openly, whatever your bag is). I counted maybe three laugh out loud moments.

Pete's Dragon review - Mind the Baby

Is it scary?

There is one short, distressing scene when the loggers try to capture Elliott while Pete and his new friends look on helpless to stop them. There’s another very short scene where the Dragon breathes fire on some of the main characters because he thinks they’re trying to hurt him and Pete, which ends well after a bit of “will they/won’t they make it” uncertainty. Pete’s parents die in the first five minutes of the film but its handled sensitively with no graphic images and mostly left to the imagination. But apart from that, it’s actually quite a mild film in terms of violence, scariness or peril. The dragon isn’t even slightly scary. It fact he’s more like a huge green loveable dog with wings. You would really struggle to call Karl Urban a bad guy – more disgruntled.

What questions can I expect?

Expect to be asked where Pete’s parents are (sniffle) and why is the dragon sad when he’s looking in the window at Pete being read a bedtime story with his new friends. And probably the same when Elliott is indicating to Pete that he should go and live with the humans.

In a nutshell:

This is a great family film which might be appreciated more by kids 7+ who will understand the nuance of the tale, although younger children who are used to the cinema will get on just fine. If you’re watching it on a homescreen at some stage, everyone is likely to be grand. There’s no “quick cover their eyes” moments or jumpy and loud scenes that might scare them.

Marks out of 5?

I’ll give it a 4. I really enjoyed it. I’d even watch it again and not want to poke my eyes out.

Note: I paid full ticket price on a normal trip to the cinema at my own expense. I was not asked to review this film and did not receive any compensation from anyone. All views, as always, are my own.

Images courtesy of Disney UK.

What do you think?