The Good Dinosaur review
With a movie like The Good Dinosaur coming from Disney, the first thing that comes to mind is how late in the game they are in the prehistoric creature game. When I think of Disney and dinosaurs, I think in the sequence from Fantasia that tells the story of the creation of the Earth with a part on dinosaurs that is in total silence with the exception of the Rite of Spring symphony from Igor Stravinsky. Or even with animated movies in general, when I think dinosaurs, my mind goes to The Land Before Time movies (the first one being the only good one) that was already Disney-like in tone.
But with The Good Dinosaur coming from the Pixar team, that left me open to the idea and for my expectations to be raised even higher. Especially with the incredibly good Inside Out coming out earlier in the summer, this movie must be really good if the Disney company set this for Thanksgiving weekend, a week that normally is the ground for some of the best. If Pixar can take us under the sea with Finding Nemo and into a world of living cars in Cars, how does Pixar do with imagination in The Good Dinosaur?
The film starts out (as the previews have shown many times) that this is an alternative world where the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs has never hit the Earth. Instead, the dinosaurs get to evolve into more intelligible creatures that can farm, hunt and start families like humans can.
Millions of years later, two Apatosaurus’ farmers Henry (played by Jeffrey Wright) and Ida (played by Francis McDormand) are witnessing the hatching of their eggs. The first two, Libby and Buck are regular sized and seem ready to go to help out on the farm, but little Arlo is the runt of the litter.
Arlo is timid and prone to fear, especially from the chickens that he feeds. His dad tries to make him feel more important by tasking him to trap the one that’s been stealing the food they’ve been planting. When the trap captures a young cave boy, Arlo frees it, feeling he can’t kill it.
Sometime later, the cave boy returns, though Arlo goes after it. When the young dinosaur accidentally falls into the river and gets knocked unconscious, he wakes up in a part of the land he doesn’t recognize. He sees that the cave boy keeps following him like a dog, so Arlo names him “Spot” and the two set off on an adventure to get back home.
The Good Dinosaur had the unfortunate luck of having to come out after the other Pixar movie, Inside Out, which still remains one of my favorites of 2015. When comparing the two, The Good Dinosaur is surprisingly underwhelming. The story feels very reminiscent of Finding Nemo, except that neither Arlo nor Spot are that interesting of characters. They’re pretty much the typical coward and feral child, yet the only dynamic of this “a boy and his pet” story is that position is switched.
The more I thought about the idea of a world where dinosaurs and people live together, the more I thought that there was a lot of possibilities with the idea, but with the people just as non speaking cave people that act like animals, you could easily replace them with monkeys and the story would not change a lot. At least the Flintstones took their environment to their advantage.
As a Pixar movie, the story is still emotional and the animation is some of the most photo realistic I’ve seen, but this is likely to cater to only kids, leaving adults wondering what happened to the family friendly writing that made Toy Story and Finding Nemo so likable.
I’ll give this two and a half Apatosaurus’ out of five. The Good Dinosaur is not a bad movie, just a very weak story when compared to what Pixar has given us and is likely to stay as a serviceable story for the younger ones.