Pete's Dragon (2016)

Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Pete's Dragon (2016) Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Wonderful remake of Disney classic has peril, sad moments.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 40 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 39 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Emphasis on the value of working for the park service and preserving nature.

Positive Messages

Never stop believing in magic. Friendship, loyalty, and honesty are all very important. Trust is earned. The wilderness should be preserved. Family is more important than fame, and family isn't just biological.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mostly very positive: Pete is brave, resourceful, and loyal to Elliot. Elliot cares for Pete and puts himself in danger to rescue him. Grace loves the forest and is determined to protect it. Once she meets Pete, she becomes his advocate. Natalie is Pete's friend from the minute she meets him. She teaches him how the world works and is loyal. Mr. Meacham says that meeting the dragon opened him up to the possibility of magic and how he sees the world. On the downside, Gavin just wants to be successful, no matter what that means for the forest or for Elliot.

Violence & Scariness

Frequent peril and danger, with some sad moments. Young Pete's parents are killed in a car accident, and he's left alone in the dark woods. He's surrounded by a pack of wolves and is also discovered and chased. He's grabbed and hits his head. Pete flees the hospital, jumps over moving cars, and runs out into the street. Loggers go hunting for Elliot and point a gun at him. Loggers shoot Elliot with a tranquilizer gun and capture him; it appears he's dead. There's a daring chase scene, and Elliot breathes fire at a bridge, causing it to crack. A car goes off the bridge, and it appears that the occupants are dead.

Sexy Stuff

Adults hug. 

Language

No swearing, but a couple of mildly crude jokes.

Consumerism

Nothing in the movie, but tie-in merchandise includes apparel, toys, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pete's Dragon is a delightful remake of Disney's 1977 live-action/animated classic. It's a throwback to Disney movies of the past: wholesome, sweet, fun, and exciting. That said, the "exciting" part includes plenty of peril and danger, as well as some sad moments. Pete is 5 when he's in a terrible car accident that leaves him orphaned and abandoned in the woods, which could definitely upset younger or more sensitive kids. But sweet, furry dragon Elliot takes care of Pete for several years -- until loggers threaten the wilderness and their home. Expect some tense, chases and disturbing scenes when hunters go after Elliot (a gun is pointed at him in one scene) and it appears he's dead. There are also a couple of mildly crude jokes. Mostly, though, this is a sweet film about love, friendship, finding family in unexpected places, appreciating nature, and opening yourself up to believing in magic. It also has clear themes of courage, empathy, and perseverance.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWendyann4 August 12, 2016

Sweet movie, but too sad for young kids.

A sweet movie that had me in tears quite a few times. The opening scene is a bit much for little ones. Pete and his parents are driving in their car, when they... Continue reading
Parent Written byGlenn C. August 18, 2016

Not scary. Unclear why others think so.

Yes like in all Disney movies, Pete's parents die. This happens early and is never shown. There's just a slow motion car crash that suggests it. No bo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAverageJake August 12, 2016

Great Movie

My family was very impressed with Disney's Pete's Dragon. The animation was fantastic, and some of the messages were strong and sweet. There is lots... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 29, 2017

Awesome Actors!

I think that this is a great family movie although there is one scene in the beginning where Pete is about 3 years old and his family's car got flipped ove... Continue reading

What's the story?

In PETE'S DRAGON, Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has always entertained kids with his story of a dragon that lives in the nearby forest. His forest ranger daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), thinks it's a tall tale -- until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who claims to have been living in the woods for years with a green dragon named Elliot. And now, with loggers threatening the wilderness, Pete must get back to help Elliot, even if that means leaving the people who could be his new family.

Is it any good?

Parents will love this sweet throwback Disney film, and their kids will be enchanted by Pete and his friendly dragon. Disney's original take on the story was mostly live action, with an animated dragon. The update is all live action, and it manages to make Elliot even more lovable and the story rich and engaging. It's set in the Pacific Northwest in the '70s, before cell phones and the Internet, when life was slower and kids had more freedom to go off and have adventures. Pete has been living with Elliot since he was orphaned at age 5, and their relationship is delightful to watch. Of course, it's a Disney movie, so it has to begin with parental loss -- and end with a fiery car chase -- but most everything in the middle is wholesome and entertaining.

Pete's Dragon is a little slower in parts than most films like it in 2016, but the characters are fully developed. Howard is appealing as the park ranger whose job it is to protect the woods and everything in it. Redford is charming as the grandfather who still believes in magic. And Fegley is wonderful as Pete; he makes the boy simultaneously wise, innocent, and very brave. Plus, there's a lovely underlying message that the wilderness and its inhabitants are to be protected and that we should take care of our family, however we find them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Pete is left alone in the wilderness in Pete's Dragon. Did that make you nervous? Why? His mother tells him he's very brave. Do you think you could be brave in that situation?

  • How does Pete demonstrate courage? Why is that an important character strength? What role do empathy and perseverance play in the story as well?

  • What parts of the movie did you find scary? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • What are the movie's messages about friendship and family? Does your family have to be people you're related to? Who do you consider part of your family?

  • How does this version compare to the original? Do you usually like remakes? Why or why not?

Movie details

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