Movie Name: The Good Dinosaur
Release Date(s): November 10, 2015 (Premiere)/November 25, 2015 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
A death bringing asteroid has missed the Earth leaving dinosaurs as the ruling class. Arlo cannot find his place among his family. The small dinosaur lives in fear of the world around him. When Arlo is unable to defend the family crops from an invading human critter, tragedy strikes, and Arlo finds himself more afraid than ever. When Arlo is accidentally washed away in a flood, he must fight to get home and only the help of the human critter he’s named Spot can save him.
Directed by Peter Sohn, The Good Dinosaur is a Pixar animated feature. The movie faced multiple production problems, delays, story revisions, and even replaced the director Bob Peterson and much of the cast when the script was ironed out. The film followed Pixar’s Inside Out (also released in 2015) and despite positive reviews was (at the time of its release) Pixar’s lowest grossing feature.
Pixar has a lot of bravado. Their pictures always succeed. The critics love their films and they are frequent award winners. Despite still winning the critics, The Good Dinosaur proved Pixar was fallible (although it still made a strong profit). Even though this is the case, The Good Dinosaur isn’t Pixar’s worst film.
The story does feel like a hodgepodge of different movie’s stories. The classic “adventure to get home” story mixed with a dead parent (a Disney cliché…this one tries to mimic The Lion King), and two characters that belong two different places (and eventually will have to separate). They are all pretty standard tropes, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t done well.
The characters are likeable and the film gets good voice actors. The lead is played by Raymond Ochoa and Jack Bright provides Spots grunts and growls. Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright play Arlo’s parents and Sam Elliott, A.J. Buckley, and Anna Paquin are the t-rex trio. Steve Zahn plans the leader of the pterodactyls, and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger plays one of the velociraptors.
The movie looks good, but it could have done more with the rich subject. There are only a few dinosaurs and the concept that the dinosaurs evolved has potential that was unexplored. I do like the main character designs (they used elephants for Arlo and his family’s movements), but once again more dinosaurs would have been better.
The Good Dinosaur is a nice little film with a story that feels like a very classic Disney story. The movie however misses some steps and could have really soared. With the phenomenal success of Inside Out, success after success probably wasn’t possible for Pixar, and it had to calm down eventually. Pixar followed The Good Dinosaur with the Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory in 2016.