Going into Good Dinosaur all I heard about was too things- 1. It won’t be as great as Inside Out and 2. It was a nightmare to make. Going out of the film I didn’t care how hard it was to make and having had a totally different experience than Inside Out. Different but still good. I know it’s gotten some mixed reviews but for me I loved The Good Dinosaur!! It’s unlike anything Pixar has done before but I found it magical in the way old school Disney films used to be. This is a film like Bambi or Dumbo that are about the growth of a character and are artistically ambitious at the same time.
I have seen it now twice, once alone and once with my nieces and both times I was dazzled by the Good Dinosaur. I worry that it may suffer the same fate as Rescuers Down Under. That film was about a journey of a child who is taken by a man and must find his way home with the help of Bianca and Bernard. It was technologically groundbreaking and something different from Disney but it had the misfortune of being couched between Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast so it is largely forgotten.
Let’s not let that happen with Good Dinosaur folks! Go and see it. You are in for a real treat if you do!
The Good Dinosaur is about a dinosaur named Arlo who is separated from his family after a tragedy occurs. He is a fearful creature who is even scared of a coop of chickens at the beginning of the film.
In this world the asteroid misses Earth and so the dinosaurs evolve into subsistence farmers with corn crops and even a silo. Being fronteirsman it is essential Arlo learn to conquer his fears and his father tries to teach him this.
But as I said a tragedy occurs and he ends up getting lost and having to find his way home. This is not a particularly new storytelling device but who cares? I certainly didn’t. The journey home is a favorite plotline of mine in movies or literature and as long as the characters are great and they do interesting things with it I’m on board.
Arlo meets a little human boy named Spot who I really loved. He may be my new Baymax of favorite side characters. He is brave, but sweet and simple. His bond with Arlo grows bit-by-bit and felt like a believable friendship to me.
On their journey home they face a lot of peril from both Mother Nature and predators. There are pterodactyls that are pretty scary (and a little funny)
Arlo and Spot also meet a family of T-rex longhorn ranchers stolen from a western film that I loved! I didn’t know if I liked their animation going into it but I did. They swap stories about their scars and the Pa Butch, voiced by Sam Elliottm teaches Arlo an important lesson about fear and how being afraid is part of knowing you’re alive. It’s going through the fear that makes all the difference.
The Good Dinosaur is a different kind of film for Pixar. It’s a journey but it has the emotion you expect from Pixar. There is a terrific scene where both Arlo and Spot learn about each other’s family. This should make even the hardest person tear up!
The animation in Good Dinosaur is the most stunning that Pixar has done. Yep, I realize what I just said but it is true. The water alone is hard to believe. It looks so real. There are many moments where you will swear it is real photographic backgrounds like in Dinosaur but it isn’t. I normally hate gifs but look at this!
The only problem I had with Good Dinosaur is that it is pretty scary for small kids (kind of like Bambi, Pinocchio and early Disney films were). My niece is 6 and she had to be taken from the theater once because it was too scary. There are many moments of peril on Arlo and Spots journey. I mean the t-rex is the good guy if that tells you anything! That said, she still walked away enjoying the film and having nice things to say. She wished the tragedy hadn’t happened but still liked the movie. Just be forewarned small kids may be upset or scared in some sections but that’s not a reason to not see it.
There are softer moments as well with Arlo and Spot bonding and some good laughs. I particularly like a scene with a dinosaur that carries around his ‘protection crew’. And like I said the scene with the t-rex family are completely lovely.
The voice cast as usual with Pixar is outstanding Raymond Ochoa reminds me a little of the boy from Finding Nemo but a little more nuanced. Jack Bright is Spot, Sam Elliott is the T-rex Butch. Anna Paquin, AJ Buckley, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn and others all do excellent work.
I tweeted after seeing Good Dinosaur the first time ‘Another triumph for Pixar’ and I stand by that. Just in animation alone it is an astonishing film but it’s more than that. Director Pete Sohn has created a story that has it all. It’s moving, sweet, funny exciting and emotional. It’s interesting because inside a conventional story journey home they do unconventional things like the Western segments and the pterodactyles. I found it to be oddly unpredictable in its own way.
Please go out and see it. I know you won’t regret it.
Both times I saw it in the 3D which I recommend to get the full experience of the visuals.
I will probably do a spoiler filled review next week like I did with Inside Out. If you get to see Good Dinosaur please put your experience in the comments.
What a special time to be an animation fan! 2 great Pixar films in a year!! Happy day!
Overall Grade- A