I think we can agree that the world is a pretty tense place. Zika. American politics. Police shootings. Terrorism. Email hacking. It’s been crazy. And so in the midst of all of this, Disney’s latest live-action film, Pete’s Dragon, offers us a little magic . . . . and hope.
Pete is orphaned after a tragic car accident kills his parents. As he wanders through the woods alone, clinging to his book about a dog named Elliot, he encounters a large beast who protects him. The two immediately form a bond. Pete names the beast – a giant, green dragon – Elliot.
The story picks up six years later. Pete and Elliot roam the woods much like a boy and his dog would. There is compassion between the two. They care deeply for one another.
They are a family.
Yet, when Pete spots Grace, the forest ranger, he is curious. He sneaks a compass out of her backpack. When he opens it, he sees a picture inside of young Grace with her mother and father. Pete looks at the picture longingly, as if the memories of his own parents swim to the surface of his mind.
As the logging brothers Jack and Gavin (Jack is in a relationship with Grace) move closer and closer into the woods where the boy and the dragon live, Pete is discovered. This discovery sends all the characters into a whirlwind of an adventure. Gavin and his men aim to capture Elliot and make a profit. Grace is deeply concerned with Pete, and takes him in for a night along with Jack and his daughter, Natalie.
Elliot, alone in the forest, misses Pete. Like a lost puppy, Elliot roams the wilderness and the town to find his missing boy. It is a tearjerker of a scene when Elliot spies Pete sitting the laps of Grace and Jack as they read a book together. Pete has found a family. Elliot has not.
This is a solid family film. It is filled with adventure, laughs (Elliot and the sprinklers is one of my favs), and tearjerkers. There are few, if no, curse words. The film bears no markers of current realities. It is a timeless tale, told in a timeless matter.
Best of all, it reminds us of magic. Grace’s father, Mr. Meacham, tells her, “The magic changed the way I see the world.” He, too, encountered Elliot the dragon many years before Pete. He gave him a renewed sense of innocence.
Or, perhaps, instead of magic, we can think of it has hope. And whether it is Pete and Elliot, Grace and Meacham, Jack and Gavin, or Jack and Natalie, family is where we find our hope. It is in each other. And it is this same hope that allows us to let each other go to discover new worlds and wonders.