The Good Dinosaur is a movie that I thought might never come to fruition. It had been discussed and was announced to be released in 2013, but obviously it got put off for awhile. They said the storyline had some fatal flaws and the entire thing basically got a re-haul. And I’ll admit, knowing about all of the issues it had, combined with previews that did not impress me, I did not have high hopes going into it.
That being said, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. I don’t think it’s one of Pixar’s best films, but it is good. The “spin” that Pixar puts on their story is that dinosaurs didn’t get wiped out by the asteroid and are basically very human-like. We meet young Arlo and his family, who are Apatosauruses. They have a farm, and through a series of events (which I won’t specify to avoid spoilers!), he becomes separated from his family and has to find his way back home. On his way he meets up with Spot, a human who in this world acts more like a dog.
I feel like Pixar usually comes up with creative plots, but in this case the plot was somewhat straight forward and predictable. The majority of it was Arlo trying to get home, and meeting various other animals and obstacles along the way – that can get a little tedious for adults, though I don’t know that it bothers kids. While the plot was predictable, all of the bits and scenes within the story were well done. They were humorous, touching in the right places, and fun.
Arlo’s character is perhaps not completely unique either, but he is lovable. The runt of his litter, Arlo grows up into a young dinosaur with knobbly knees and scared of everything, unable to finish any of the jobs on his family’s farm. He goes through a pretty typical coming of age story, growing and learning along the way. His friendship with Spot is sweet and touching. Spot himself is more of a secondary character – less of a personality and more like a pet than anything.
One of the main things I heard before going to see this one was “bring tissues! It’s so sad!” So I went into it expecting to cry. And there were definitely a lot of sad moments, not just at one point. One part in the beginning, and then another scene in the middle that really tugged at the heartstrings – but I didn’t cry. And then there was one part at the end, where it all just caught up to me and the tears were flowing. So yeah, if you’re prone to crying, this one will probably get to you.
Visually it’s a really pretty film. There are a lot of stunning landscapes and nature is really brought to the forefront. I’ve heard some complaints that the dinosaurs look way more cartoonish than the landscapes. That’s absolutely true, but it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t find it distracting or anything.
The best part of the movie was when Arlo has a run-in with another dinosaur (who looked to me like a triceratops but apparently was actually a styrcosaurus – shows how much I know about dinosaurs). I won’t describe it so as not to ruin it, but it was hilarious, weird, and unexpected, and felt like the most “Pixar” part of the movie.
Overall The Good Dinosaur is good. But that’s pretty much it, and we’ve come to expect more from Pixar. Words like “typical” and “predictable” are good to describe it. It’s more of a kid’s movie than we’ve come to expect from Pixar, which normally excels at creating movies that are loved by kids and adults. I did enjoy watching it, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.
Have you seen the Good Dinosaur yet? Are you interested in seeing it?