Why does this sound so familiar? Oh, I know. It's because it was first done in 1977. Okay, this time it is directed by David Lowery (he also tweaked the script). The only other thing he has written and directed that I recognize is "Them Ain't Bodies Saints" which I found just as confusing as the title.
We have the classic little lost boy with the imaginary friend. This time it happens to be a dragon. And maybe it isn't imaginary. And we admire new and improved special effects. This is a PG film that maintains the tradition that Walt Disney invented: Children are wise, and adults? ...not so much.
Let's look at the cast:
- * Oakes Fegley ("Boardwalk Empire") is Pete, our lonely little orphan. Early scenes establish how he came to be an orphan and include a fairly scary episode in the deep forest. You will enjoy his first encounters with things like balloons and toothpaste.
- * Bryce Dallas Howard ("The Help") is Grace, the kindhearted Ranger who realizes that Pete's story is similar to the tall tale her father spins for spellbound children in their hometown.
- * Robert Redford ("A Walk in the Woods") Meacham entertains little ones with his exciting story and insists the dragon he encountered as a child was "magical." Yeah... Right...
- * Karl Urban ("Star Trek") Gavin is a hard-working, ambitious logger. He is practical to the core, so I got a big kick out of hearing him yell, "Follow that dragon!"
- * Oona Laurence ("Bad Moms") Natalie has always been her daddy's obedient little girl but she is also kind and VERY observant.
- * Isiah Whitlock Jr ("Law and Order") Sheriff Gene Dentler is trying to make sense of a crazy situation and make sure no one gets hurt.
- * Wes Bentley ("Interstellar") Jack tries to trust Grace's judgement, but he has a business to run.
The best measure of a PG movie is the response of the children. Many people in the screening audience brought their offspring. The enthralled children were beguiled from beginning to end. They had someone to root for, a thoughtless villain, beautiful scenery, a touching scene or two, characters they could relate to, and a white-knuckle scene on a bridge. After a totally unexpected scene at the end, they left the theater with big smiles and so did the adults.
Oh! Bring tissues....