Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Good Dinosaur

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Amazing animation; funny and touching moments
Cons: Story a little slow overall
The Bottom Line:
Amazing backgrounds
Provide setting for story
That could be better

Good Addition to the Pixar Cannon

It always kills me when a movie I want to see comes out right at Thanksgiving.  It’s just too busy a time to rush to the theater.  That’s why I am just now seeing The Good Dinosaur, the newest movie from Pixar.  While it is not the best film the studio has released, it is still quite enjoyable.

The story is set in an alternative universe in which the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs missed Earth.  As a result, dinosaurs are the intelligent and dominant species on the planet.  Our story follows Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), the runt of his family.  Everyone works hard to run the family’s homestead, but Arlo can’t seem to get anything right.  Between his small size and being frightened of everything, Arlo is less than helpful.

And then Arlo winds up separated from his family homestead by miles of wilderness.  His only companion for getting home is the small human creature who has been stealing the family’s corn.  Will he be able to survive and find his way home?

Being a bit slow, it took me quite a bit into the film to realize that the movie was also playing with Western tropes.  I should have picked up on it sooner, but when I did, I enjoyed the sly way the movie used some of those ideas with their dinosaurs.  Yes, this movie has many of those creative touches you’d expect from the best of Pixar.  You know, those moments that you look at and think, “I never would have thought to do that, but of course it would be that way.”

And visually, this movie is absolutely stunning.  Many of the locations and sets look like they are real.  All of the characters are obviously animated, which is fine, but there were times I wondered if they were using the same technique Disney did back in 2000 with Dinosaurs, when the studio used real backgrounds behind their computer animated dinosaurs.  That’s not what was done here, but if you want to go see a movie for the visual treat, this is definitely the movie for you.

Sadly, the story could have been better.  It’s fine.  We essentially get a boy and dog survival story with Arlo being the boy and the human boy Arlo winds up naming Spot (voiced by Jack Bright) being the dog.  And they really do play that up in the movie.  Only the dinosaurs talk, which means that we get barks, grunts and howls from Spot.  And he mostly walks on all fours and behaves just like a dog.  It’s actually very fun and endearing.

But I was talking about the plot.  It’s a bit slow and predictable, and I’m not sure it will hold the interest of all the kids who would normally like a Pixar film.  Adults will find it fairly predictable.  Again, it’s not that the story is bad, it’s just not as great as the best of Pixar.  It’s also not as bad as the worst of Pixar.

As I mentioned, the relationship between Arlo and Spot is very endearing.  There are some true laughs in the piece, and they usually come from the two of them interacting.  And the finale of the movie is extremely touching because of their relationship.

There isn’t as much dialogue as you might expect in this movie, but the voice cast still shines.  In fact, they have to make us love their characters with fewer lines to work with, and they do a remarkable job at it.

So while The Good Dinosaur isn’t a movie to rush out and watch, it is definitely a film to see.  It’s a good story told with amazing animation you have to see to believe.


  1. I saw the Good Dinosaur (on DVD), and I agree with your review. It is a nice movie.

  2. I just saw this movie tonight. It was predictable, but I seriously thought it was so cute. I teared up a bit at the end. Made me want to go and hug my family forever.