Let’s take a little trip back to that golden era known as the late 70’s, where every boy seemed to have a bowl haircut (me included) and everyone in the entertainment industry seemed to be on cocaine. Disney executives were probably flying high atop that white magic mountain when they gave the greenlight to movies such as The Black Hole, Herbie Goes Bananas (“Ocho! Ocho!”), The Shaggy D.A., and Pete’s Dragon, which I am telling you, no shit, is THE BEST MOVIE EVER MADE.
Now at this point you’re probably thinking, “Who in the hell is this ZolarCzakl and why do they let him post on this site? Shouldn’t someone be administering his meds to him on a more regular basis and/or tightening the straps on his straightjacket? Or is he just some hipster wannabe who is telling us something unbelievably insane just for the sake of a complete and pure form of holy irony? Or is he just trying to be funny and not really coming even close to succeeding?” Or maybe, if you’re bitchin’, you agree.
Come on! Just look at the cast. Helen Reddy. Mickey Rooney. Shelly Winters. Red Buttons. Jeff Conaway (later of Taxi fame). Jim Dale. Jim Fuckin’ Backus! And then there’s the irrepressible Sean Marshall as none other than Pete. But wait, there’s the plot: a young boy at the turn of the century is running away from a bunch of nasty, muddy, inbred rednecks who want to use him for slave labor, accompanied by a cartoon dragon who can turn himself invisible at will. They stumble into the town of Passamaquoddy where Pete is adopted by the undeniably sexy Nora (Reddy) and her oh-so-funny-alcoholic father, Lampie (Rooney) and Elliot (the dragon) is hunted by the dastardly duo of snake-oil salesman Dr. Terminus (Dale) and his sidekick Hoagy (Buttons).
Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s a musical?
Written by the team of Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn, the songs veer between a late 70’s version of what guys in California knee deep in coke might think hillbilly music would sound like, typical family-movie sappy balladry, and light twangy pop-rock. Needless to say, I love these songs.
The rednecks start the movie off with a cute serenade to the missing Pete called “In These Hills”, where they talk about smashing him and torturing him in many fairly hideous ways. It’s all in the spirit of good clean fun, though, trust me! This is followed just minutes later by the song that shows the strong bond between Pete and his dragon friend, “Boo Bop Bopbop Bop.” Yeah. Cocaine. Taken out of context it could stand alone as a fairly touching love song, but in the movie is seems a little pervy. But, of course, I’m pretty pervy for dragon anyway.
This is followed by Mickey Rooney’s drunken outburst, “I Saw A Dragon”, where he proceeds to sing to a bar full of dancing drunks about what he has just seen. This contains a rather curious scene where we are introduced to his daughter Nora (did I mention that she’s played by the totally hot Helen Reddy?), who at first disapprovingly kicks beer out of the patrons’ hands but then does a keg dance and gets a look on her face of total ecstasy as the kegs burst forth foamy brew with orgasmic abandon. That scene is so hot.
Other great songs include the heart-tugging “It’s Not Easy”, where Pete describes Elliot to Nora and they share a moment of friendship and love; the wonderfully sappy ballad “Candle on the Water”; and, what I’m thinking right now is the best song ever written, “Every Little Piece”, which I like to call “Money, Money, Money By The Pound.” In this, the genius actors Jim Dale and Red Buttons sing about how they’re going to capture Elliot, slice him up, dice him up, and sell his parts for a quick buck. They ask the timeless question, “Can’t you hear that jingle jangle sound?”
Did I also mention that the movie is two hours and nine minutes long?!?!?!? That’s longer than most movies you truly love!
This film is just great. It’s two-plus hours of good clean fun and great songs that will get stuck in your head. I’m going to buy the DVD soon. And the soundtrack. And the song book. And I’m gonna find a poster. And I’m gonna write a letter to Helen Reddy. And I’m gonna get a green costume and pretend I’m a dragon. When people try to tell me I’m crazy, I’ll just turn invisible and sing “Boo Bop Bopbop Bop.”
Will somebody get me my meds?