Pete's Dragon



Offbeat live-action/animation mix with lots of drinking.
  • Review Date: July 31, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 128 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the heavy drinking does seem to put a weird stagger on the material, most of this is Disney-safe, with the message about holding out hope and maintaining childlike innocence and optimism. Expectedly, most grownups, except the villains, don't believe that Pete actually has a dragon, and adult-authority figures tend to be buffoons.

Positive role models

Pete is a nice, honest orphan kid, though kind of one-note in that he’s mostly either being chased or chastising Elliott to behave. Pete never endorses Elliott using his strength or flaming breath against antagonists, and Elliott saves a bunch of townspeople in the end. On the other hand, a schoolteacher is depicted as a particularly nasty and negative character. Pete’s evil-but-dumb adoptive family, the rustic Gogans, are stereotyped hillbillies.

Violence & scariness

Comical roughhousing, as Elliott (sometimes visible, sometimes not), knocks villains around -- usually into the water -- with his tail, or the bad guys get caught up in their own snares. A few "comical" songs in which the villains sing about either cutting up Elliott for medicinal ingredients or abusing/killing young Pete (roasting the boy "gently" on a BBQ, for instance).

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Was the sequel called Pete’s Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings? Extravagant drinking imagery pervades, with Mickey Rooney’s grandfatherly character as the town drunk. Other characters are repeatedly shown drinking or talking about drinking. Elliott the dragon himself imbibes of a flask. One guy, when he says he’s witnessed a dragon, is accused of being drunk -- and advised to have a drink and get over it (!?). Raucous musical number in a saloon featuring rolling barrels and a final shower of beer suds (predicting the "foam parties" that would be popular with youth decades later).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that several characters in this movie get quite drunk. There are some fight scenes (though they are mild) and a scene of a teacher hitting a student.

What's the story?

This Disney musical about a boy and his dragon centers on Pete, an orphan who has been sold to an abusive backwoods family. Pete is befriended by Elliott, a rotund, friendly, and often mischievous dragon. Together they run away to a small Maine town, where they meet Lampey the lighthouse keeper (Mickey Rooney) and his daughter Nora (Helen Reddy). Of course the bad backwoods family comes looking for Pete, and there is another complex subplot involving a quack doctor (Jim Dale) and his often-drunk sidekick (Red Buttons) who have their own plans for Elliott. There is a disastrous first day of school for Pete (in which his hands are hit with a stick by his teacher), many mishaps involving the mayor, and some wet cement that gets mucked up over and over again.

Is it any good?


The interaction of people and animation in PETE'S DRAGON is surprisingly good, but the movie itself falls rather flat. The biggest problem is the songs, which are utterly forgettable, which is not a great feature for a musical.

The story is a good one and there's a certain sweetness to the proceedings, but also a combination of predictability and noisy chaos that will make this better viewing for kids than for their parents. The message, about finding love and security in a crazy world, is a good one, and children will find this an entertaining and enjoyable viewing experience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they'd do with a dragon of their own.

  • Discuss Pete's situation and how sometimes people have to find their real families.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 3, 1977
DVD release date:August 18, 2009
Cast:Mickey Rooney, Sean Marshall, Shelley Winters
Director:Don Chaffey
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:128 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byDominicboo1 June 9, 2013

High-Flying Fun

Pete's Dragon is a criminally underrated film, and it very very near comes up to the level of Mary Poppins.(Which is my favorite live-action Disney film) The story is a sweet one of an orphan named Pete and his dragon friend Elliot. The two are running away from Pete's abusive guardians to Pasamaquody(pronounce it just like it's spelled)Maine. Pete's taken in by a kindly family Nora and her father the lighthouse keeper Lampy. Unfortuantetly an evil con man Dr. Terminus plans on capturing Elliot, and slicing him up.(Of course he's unsuccesful). Some scenes of drinking, and the teacher is violent. (Beating Pete for "lying" about Elliot") The songs are wonderful(particularly Candle on the Water and Brazzle Dazzle Day) and Elliot is a charming character. This is a winner for children of all ages (if they can handle Dr. Terminus and the other villains that is).
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byBa movie girl January 28, 2011
One of the best Disney movies ever made
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byDisneymovielover77 July 30, 2015

Cute movie that's mixed with animation and live-action

I really enjoyed watching this movie. I rented this movie and Dreamworks Home. I decided to watch Pete's Dragon first because I saw Home when it came out and it's really good, so I decided to watch Pete's Dragon ( because I haven't seen it before). I LOVED this movie from start to finish. Pete's Dragon tells the story of a young boy named Pete anda love able and funny dragon who he calls by the name of Elliott. They ran away from home, his fake family The Grogans who treat him terribly. They went into the town of Passadenaqua ( it's hard to spell) and they meet Nora and her father. ( Mickey Rooney plays Nora's dad). When one of Elliott's pranks lands him in big trouble and a salesmen wants him for his own purposes ( money). Pete has to go and rescue Elliott. You will fall in love with this film, and yes it is a musical but it's a really good one. This movie will make you giggle a few times and there's a suspenseful part. I disagree with the age group for this movie, I think little kids will enjoy it and family members to. Elliott is a dragon who's very playful and the movie is very colorful and unique. There's nothing wrong with this movie unless who count the beer that the adults drink. There's a scene that involves kidnapping but the movie gives us a happy ending. I thought the cast did a superb job with playing there characters and you can't help but fall in love with Pete and his dragon Elliott. There's heartwarming moments in the film and Disney did really well with making this film. Elliott is a dragon that's very playful and you can't blame him for being clumsy and all Pete wants is a family a real one and not one like the Grogans. Nora is a mom figure towards Pete and at first Pete ends up staying the night until she figures out why he ran away and gave him a loving a real home. Pete is very sweet and kind towards Elliott even though Elliott makes mistakes. The movie has a really good ending. The salesmen wanted Elliott all to themselves and they had a plan to kill Elliott and this trade was made with the Grogans. I hope you let your kids see this movie and I think kids of all ages will really like it. There's Unique and Comex characters, beautiful animation and colorful sets, and a great story with wonderful messages. I fell in love with Pete and Elliott throughout the movie and after I saw it I want to watch this movie again. Kids will love the clean humor from Elliott and even the characters as well. This is a movie that I'm positive many families will love, it's a clean movie and I hope you'll like it. This movie is highly recommended!!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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