Christmas day, 2007: millions of happy families file out of opening-day screenings for kid-friendly fantasy film The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. As moms and dads dab at the corners of their eyes to clean up the last of their tears, youngsters breathlessly effuse over the film’s combination of treacly sentimentality and off-putting, underdeveloped CGI. “I love the water horse!” they’d cry. “I can’t wait for another movie pairing a precocious, lonely boy with a mythical, weirdly-rendered beast in which they teach one another a valuable lesson about what it means to love!”

I can only assume that the producers of upcoming family film My Pet Dinosaur have subscribed wholesale to this alternate version of recent history. How else to explain the new trailer for this questionable-looking release, and all its Water Horse-esque heartstring-tugging? In the debut directorial effort from longtime dinosaur VFX specialist Matt Drummond (Dinosaur IslandPrehistoric Predators), a sleepy Australian town is rocked by the arrival of a curious newcomer. At first, the pint-size reptile strikes his new owners as kinda cute, but as he rapidly grows to titanic proportions, keeping him safely hidden becomes a problem. Vague military types come on the scene to shatter the domestic idyll and misunderstand this gentle giant, playing out the same beats originally found in King Kong.

The Hollywood Reporter item that announced the trailer describes the film as “E.T. meets Pixar,” a seemingly generous comparison, judging by the level of writing and crudeness of effects displayed in the clip above. Australian audiences will know for certain if we’ve got a new Water Horse on our hands on March 30; Americans await a release date, forced to content themselves by repeatedly watching the Pete’s Dragon remake until then.

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