Now on Netflix
Elmer Elevator (Jacob Tremblay) is young and optimistic, but his mother Dela (Golshifteh Farahani) is worried about making ends meet in My Father’s Dragon. This animated fantasy is loaded with splendid production design, and Cartoon Saloon never fails to deliver. We are never told what happened to his father. It’s assumed he passed on and was the “breadwinner,” but since he’s gone, the family is struggling. Nora Twomey‘s last film had that title, and its story is very similar to this one.
In part one, he’s forced to move to a new town with his mom, and they’re struggling to pay the bills. The boy wants to help, but he’s going all about it wrong. After an argument, he runs away.
There’s also watching how Elmer develops to become the grandfather that the narrator (Mary Kay Place) says he’ll become. He’s very kind-hearted. Although he’s not a man of the world yet, what he learns in this Narnian-like adventure teaches him how to face reality. They had a candy shop that did very well in true fairytale fashion. But when people decided to continue their life in the city (for better futures), that homestead became a ghost town. While the youngster doesn’t see it, his mother does, and doesn’t want to worry her son.
This schoolboy doesn’t realise they’re on skid row, and after an argument, he flees and a cat (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) he befriended earlier shows sympathy. This feline almost steals the show, and what she introduces the boy to is not altogether too surprising. He’s flummoxed at first, but finds solace in this strange new world. The friends he makes are easy, but as for who’ll be the enemy, I’d say it’s the baboons! Although he tries to be helpful to practically every fantastic beast he meets, not everyone is very taken to him, and his optimism.
When that includes helping Boris, a young dragon, to earn his wings, I can’t help but wonder if this story should’ve been what PIXAR’s The Good Dinosaur (review link) wanted to become. Although the idea of having two unlike species support each other in a harsh reality of life exists, there’s more to this tale to admire even after a third watch. Even though it’s an adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s 1948 children’s novel (Amazon purchase link) of the same name, I’m finding more meaning behind the this cinematic presentation.
It offers comfort to those struggling, and also says how one should never abandon their dreams. Here, we see how Elmer is never willing to give up.
Although My Father’s Dragon is quite self-contained, a glance at what the next books are about suggests more high-flying action adventure to come. I really hope this adaptation of gets a sequel. Book two concerns the boy and dragon exploring other islands. The final tale shows Boris reuniting with his family. If the parallels aren’t enough to get newcomers excited, then I don’t know what will.
5 Stars out of 5