An orphan boy escapes from his nasty adoptive parents, with his secret friend, a dragon named Elliot, to live with a kindly lighthouse keeper. But an evil doctor has designs on the magical Elliot.
Another not very charming but harmless fusion of animation and good old real-life, a long way shy of Mary Poppins’ sprightly fantasy. The problem is not in the conceit itself, after so many of its ilk, it becomes fairly easy to buy into some brightly coloured concoction hopping about (well, just about) amongst genuine people, it’s how cartoon the real folk end up being.
The likes of Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy and Jim Dale all act as if talking to senile grandparents, less hammy than downright patronising. The film seems to be pitched at shrieking level, as if that’s the only timbre children can register. Sean Marshall as troubled orphan Pete, is just another of those beaming little clones that populated the Disney school throughout the ‘70s: as sweet as candyfloss, and about as palatable over the long-term.
The effects feel mixed, we after all live in the post Roger Rabbit universe, so as good as Pete tossing real apples into Elliot’s goofy jaw might have been then it’s no big deal now. Yet, the film is dedicated to playing its “miracles” for all they are worth, showing off with ever more complicated slapstick routines working both with the bright green, faintly inebriated looking animated dragon (voiced with goofy hysteria by Charlie Callas) and an invisible version when adults are in view (cue: lumps under blankets and mysteriously upended tables). The songs, however, aren’t worth mentioning.
Another not very charming but harmless fusion of animation and good old real-life.