Disney’s Pete’s Dragon roars into theaters today, with Robert Redford portraying the wise old soul; a departure from the roles that catapulted him into a Hollywood heartthrob in the 1960s. Embracing his weather-worn features and occasional 5 o’clock shadow, our hero enthusiastically recants the tale of an encounter with a fierce dragon to the young and old of his community in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, even his own daughter sees this story as little more than an exaggerated fairy tale. As the movie progresses, however, he will get his “I told you so” moment, as elders often do!
This soon-to-be 80-year-old actor, director, producer, environmental activist, developer of the non-profit institute established to mentor the small and independent filmmaker (The Sundance Film Festival) plays woodcarver, storyteller, and narrator in this latest remake from Walt Disney Studios. His character, Mr. Meacham, clearly believes in the magic of the Millhaven dragon (though at times we wonder if he himself doesn’t doubt the reality of what he saw) and is disappointed when even his own families members do not. Regardless, it is that magic that has informed his life and changed the way he sees the world. Be open to looking beyond the obvious, the beyond the everyday, he tells his daughter Grace (played by Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard). With age comes wisdom kids!
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that this character “saves the day”. Eighty years of storytelling, in every possible capacity, have served Mr. Redford well. (And that smile and mop of hair are still disarming!!)
Mr. Meacham weaves his tale…
Personally, I view each of Robert Redford’s more recent films as treasures to be cherished. Pete’s Dragon is one of those gems that both the young and old can hold dear.