The worst thing you can say about "Pete's Dragon" is that, although it is filled with a sense of magic, it doesn't have the soaring set pieces or excitement-filled climax to please audiences that aren't in touch with their inner child.
Can you imagine what a "Transformers" or "Smurfs" movie would look like if all the special effects were removed?
(Another credit to Lowery - as we've learned from Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Danny Boyle, exceptional child acting reflects on the director.) But Redford holds the movie together, a sage respected elder, looking over our shoulders to remind us we can do better.
In terms of tone and intentions, Spielberg's "E.T." and Brad Bird's animation masterpiece "The Iron Giant" are two close cousins.
There should be more American family movies like "Pete's Dragon."
Since there aren't, we should get behind this one.