Disney Pixar’s newest film, THE GOOD DINOSAUR, is a prehistoric tale imagining what the world would be like if dinosaurs had never gone extinct. According to them, roles are reversed as the dinosaurs take on human responsibilities such as farming and herding, and the humans become feral, wild animals. This story follows the life of a young and timid Apatosaurus named Arlo. Arlo struggles to make his mark on his father’s farm by helping out and being brave enough to do whatever it takes. His fear causes more and more problems for his family until he finds himself lost in the wilderness with nothing but the company of a young human child to help him find his way back home.
The Good Dinosaur does what all great Pixar films do, makes us care for and empathize with a non-human creature. I don’t know how they do it, but I felt completely connected with that big green dinosaur. Maybe its because his problems were so relatable or maybe its just because he’s so dang cute, but once again Pixar made me actually care for something that doesn’t even exist. And on top of that, the little boy (adorably named Spot) is essentially a wild dog, yet we desperately want him to accomplish his goals as well. Together, Arlo and Spot embark on a treacherous and epic journey through their mysterious landscape, creating an unlikely friendship and discovering bravery. Along the way, they encounter several different strange creatures; some terrifying some enlightening, but all of them are incredibly interesting. While their journey is certainly fun and entertaining, it also has its issues.
If anything, The Good Dinosaur is formulaic. Pixar knows what they are doing and they do it well, but that doesn’t mean they can tell the same stories over and over again with only slight variations to character, setting, and plot. How many times have we seen two unlikely characters team up for a common goal? How many stories are about someone conquering a fear? Why do these movies always make me cry like a baby??? So, yes. The Good Dinosaur did make me cry. I haven’t cried at the movie theater since… INSIDE OUT. Notice a trend here?
But you can’t fault the guys for doing what they’re good at. It’s a creative and original film that just happens to be not quite as creative and original as some of Pixar’s other brilliant works. I also felt as though the pacing was off a hair. It seemed to take way too long to get into the meat of the story and there were certain segments that I felt added unnecessary drama to the primary conflict. Of course, these are things that your children aren’t going to care about. They’ll surely think it’s cute and fun and maybe even a little scary at parts, but they’ll enjoy it. You’ll enjoy it as well, because Pixar is amazing at creating movies for wide demographics. In fact, my favorite scene in the entire movie (which might have only lasted 30 seconds) was when Arlo and Spot eat some bad fruit that makes them trip into a psychedelic nightmare. It was hilarious, but obviously my little cousin had no idea what was going on.
So, is The Good Dinosaur worth the price of admission? Absolutely… if you have a child to bring along with you. It’s not as great as what we’ve come to expect from the studio, but it’ll probably make you cry and will definitely make you laugh. I might actually have to go see it again, because I missed the Pizza Planet truck that they always hide in their films..
3 / 5 Stars
THE GOOD DINOSAUR – Dir. Peter Sohn
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes