My Father’s Dragon (2022): A Netflix Film Review

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My Father's Dragon

Release: 2022-11-04Genre: AnimationDuration: 99 minsBudget: $ 0

Struggling to cope after a move to the city with his mother, Elmer runs away in search of Wild Island and a young dragon who waits to be rescued. Elmer’s adventures introduce him to ferocious beasts, a mysterious island and the friendship of a lifetime.

My Father's Dragon

Release: 2022-11-04Genre: AnimationDuration: 99 minsBudget: $ 0

Struggling to cope after a move to the city with his mother, Elmer runs away in search of Wild Island and a young dragon who waits to be rescued. Elmer’s adventures introduce him to ferocious beasts, a mysterious island and the friendship of a lifetime.

Netflix’s My Father’s Dragon: A Captivating Adaptation

Netflix’s My Father’s Dragon takes a beloved children’s tale and breathes new life into it with exciting themes and fantastic elements, appealing to both new and old audiences. Ruth Stiles Gannett’s book “My Father’s Dragon” has been a bedtime favorite for generations. Originally published in 1948, this story of Elmer Elevator’s quest to save a dragon from an island of wild animals quickly became a bestseller and has remained in print ever since. Now, Cartoon Saloon, known for their groundbreaking hand-drawn animation, brings us a long-awaited film adaptation that stays true to their trademark style.

Celtic Influences and Emotional Storytelling

Cartoon Saloon, an Irish-based studio, has gained critical acclaim for their captivating animation style and emotionally driven narratives. Their previous works, such as “Song of the Sea” (2014) and “Wolfwalkers” (2020), have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Drawing on their Celtic influences, they infuse their films with a unique charm and depth of emotion. With My Father’s Dragon, they continue this tradition and deliver a visually stunning and heartfelt adaptation.

An Expanded Story

The original book, with its fast pace and succinct narrative, would have only warranted a short film. However, Cartoon Saloon expands upon the source material, exploring deeper into the characters, setting, and stakes to create a feature-length film that remains equally engaging. The story revolves around Elmer Elevator, brilliantly portrayed by Jacob Tremblay, as he embarks on a daring adventure to rescue Boris the Dragon, brought to life by Gaten Matarazzo.

A Journey Through Troubled Times

Set in a time long ago, the movie emphasizes the hardships faced by Elmer and his single mother, Dela, played by Golshifteh Farahani. The Great Depression serves as the backdrop, lending authenticity and relatability to Elmer’s journey. Dela, portrayed with warmth and care, becomes the driving force behind the early portions of the story. She exemplifies the devotion of a mother who sacrifices everything for her child, even when faced with overwhelming challenges.

An Unexpected Alliance

Elmer’s life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a talking alley cat, skillfully voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. The cat becomes the catalyst for Elmer’s discovery of the dragon and sets him on a path filled with adventure. In no time at all, Elmer finds himself on Wild Island, where he encounters a myriad of wild animals holding Boris captive. The film introduces Saiwa the Gorilla, powerfully portrayed by Ian McShane, as a well-intentioned yet ruthless character who has kept Boris on the island for too long. Elmer must rely on his wit and cunning to free Boris and fulfill the dragon’s ultimate destiny.

Expanding the World of Wild Island

One of the film’s greatest achievements is its worldbuilding. In this adaptation, Wild Island faces a new challenge – it is sinking. The survival of the animals inhabiting the island depends on the dragon’s ability to lift it out of the water once every hundred years. This introduces a fresh conflict and heightens the stakes for both Elmer and the creatures on the island. Boris’ desire to become an “After Dragon,” gaining enhanced powers including the ability to breathe fire, fuels his character development and sparks motivation in both him and Elmer to perform noble deeds. Unlike in the book, not all animals are antagonistic; some become Elmer’s allies, making their plight more sympathetic and strengthening Boris’ resolve to save the island.

The Resonant Theme of Courage

One of Cartoon Saloon’s storytelling strengths lies in the incorporation of resonant themes. My Father’s Dragon explores the theme of courage in a profound way. Both Boris and Elmer face their fears and make difficult choices to navigate through life’s challenges. They showcase resilience and determination, demonstrating that even in the face of adversity, one can find the strength to persevere. This empowering message resonates with audiences of all ages, reminding us that sometimes it is in our darkest moments that we find our true courage.

A Slow-Burning Beginning

If there’s one minor flaw, it is that the film’s opening twenty minutes may feel like a slow burn. Elmer’s destitution and the cat’s presence build suspense, but at times, the story diverts and focuses on other elements, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating when the paths of Elmer and the cat will finally intersect. While this slow buildup may test the patience of some viewers, the pay-off that follows easily compensates for the initial pacing.

A Captivating Adventure for All Audiences

Regardless of whether you have read the original book or not, My Father’s Dragon promises an exciting and emotional adventure. It skillfully updates the story while remaining faithful to its spirit, taking viewers on a journey filled with wonder and heart. Cartoon Saloon’s impressive library of films continues to grow, with My Father’s Dragon adding yet another gem to their collection.

Stream My Father’s Dragon on Netflix

You can now stream My Father’s Dragon globally on Netflix, immersing yourself in the enchanting world created by Cartoon Saloon. Join Elmer and Boris on their mesmerizing quest and discover the power of courage and friendship.


My Father’s Dragon presents a captivating adaptation of a timeless children’s tale. Cartoon Saloon’s meticulous attention to detail, emotionally resonant storytelling, and stunning animation bring this beloved story to life in a fresh and memorable way. Alongside themes of courage and friendship, the expanded world of Wild Island adds depth and complexity to the narrative. While the film’s beginning may feel slow, the overall journey is a worthwhile experience for viewers of all ages. Stream My Father’s Dragon on Netflix and embark on an extraordinary adventure full of magic and heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is My Father’s Dragon suitable for young children?

Yes, My Father’s Dragon is a family-friendly film suitable for young children. It combines elements of adventure, fantasy, and heartwarming storytelling that will captivate kids and adults alike.

2. How does the film differ from the original book?

While staying true to the essence of the original book, Cartoon Saloon expands on the story, adding new characters, setting, and conflicts to create a feature-length film. These additions enhance the narrative and build upon the themes explored in the book.

3. Can I watch My Father’s Dragon without reading the book?

Absolutely! My Father’s Dragon stands on its own as a captivating film, whether or not you have read the book. The film brings the story to life with its stunning animation and compelling storytelling, making it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

4. What makes Cartoon Saloon’s animation style unique?

Cartoon Saloon’s animation style is characterized by its hand-drawn approach and the infusion of Celtic influences. This distinctive style sets their films apart and creates a visually stunning and immersive experience for viewers.

5. Are there other films by Cartoon Saloon that I should watch?

Absolutely! Cartoon Saloon has an impressive library of films, all featuring their unique animation style and compelling storytelling. Some notable titles from Cartoon Saloon include “Song of the Sea,” “The Secret of Kells,” and “Wolfwalkers.” Each film offers a captivating and magical experience that is well worth exploring.