“Pete’s Dragon” (Disney)

Oakes Fegley stars in a scene from the movie "Pete's Dragon." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Disney)

By Catholic News Service

The classic boy-and-his-dog story assumes outsized proportions in this generally warmhearted fantasy adventure, a “reimagining” of the 1977 Disney musical. This go-round, song and dance have been jettisoned, and hokeyness gives way to thrilling action and tear-jerking moments.

Orphaned by a tragic accident, a toddler (Levi Alexander) wanders into a remote forest in the Pacific Northwest where he’s raised by a friendly green dragon possessing the habits and charm of a basset hound. Six years on, the pair (its human half now played by Oakes Fegley) are discovered by a kindly forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her sympathetic woodcarver father (Robert Redford), who then try to keep a trigger-happy hunter (Wes Urban) from capturing the beast. It’s a very tall tale, but a pleasantly fanciful one, directed at a gentle pace by David Lowery.

The fact that Howard’s character already lives with her logger fiance (Wes Bentley) represents a strangely incongruous situation for a children’s movie, however. Though the precise nature of their relationship is, of course, never specified, the inclusion of this arrangement sadly bars endorsement for impressionable kids.

Apparent premarital cohabitation, potentially frightening action sequences, a handful of mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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