When I was a kid, The Scarecrow was my imaginary friend. We’d talk late into the night about this or that, and when I went for long car trips, I always made sure to clip the seatbelt next to me so he’d be safe if we got into an accident. He was my best friend, and to me, he was really, really real.
And that’s why, when Estelle told me that she wanted to produce a series on underrated Disney films, I knew that there was only one film I could write about: Pete’s Dragon.
Though it came out six years before I was born, Pete’s Dragon played a huge role in my childhood. My parents recorded it off the television, and I swear, I replayed that bootleg VHS so many times that by the time I left home for college, it was well worn out.
Though my middle-class parents never so much as made me lift a broom, as a kid, I very much identified with the trope of the overworked, underappreciated kid. And, with parents like the Gogans (sorry, Mom!), I connected with Pete’s desire to run away and wished and wished and wished that my own invisible friend was as real, and as awesome, as Elliott.
Pete’s Dragon made me giggle. It made me sing along. It was the ultimate escapist fantasy. A younger me appreciated it as wonderfully transporting and delightfully fun. Who didn’t want to tear up the school house and eat dragon-roasted apples in an orchard?!
But at nearly 30-years-old, I’d still put Pete’s Dragon in my top five favorite films. And my nostalgia only plays the smallest of role in that. As an adult, I recognize that there’s a lot more to Pete’s Dragon than a simple little childhood fantasy. In fact, I can pinpoint five reasons that it remains one of my all-time favorite movies …