The Good Dinosaur is a 2015 American 3D computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is directed by Peter Sohn in his directorial debut from a screenplay by Meg LeFauve from an original idea by Bob Peterson. Set on a fictional Earth in which dinosaurs never became extinct, the film follows a young Apatosaurus named Arlo, who meets an unlikely human friend while traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape. The film features the voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley, Steve Zahn, Jeffrey Wright, and Frances McDormand.
Peterson, who came up with the idea for the story, directed the film until August 2013. In October 2014, Sohn was announced as the new director. The film, along with Inside Out, marks the first time that Pixar has released two feature films in the same year.
The Good Dinosaur premiered on November 10, 2015 in Paris. It was released in the United States on November 25, 2015. The film grossed $332 million worldwide, making it Pixar’s lowest-grossing film.
Pixar very rarely has a bad movie in their mist, I mean, Cars 2 was pretty bad and everything else has ranged from good to excellent, and 14 out of 15 movies, that’s pretty damn good for Pixar. So for their 16th film, you’d expect the same amount of quality from the previous films they’ve made.
Well, while going into this movie, it’s important to know about the production history of this movie. This movie was originally supposed to come out in Summer 2014 but got pushed back after the original director, Bob Peterson, the director of Up, was taken off the project because of story problems.
And really, that’s the majority of the problems with The Good Dinosaur, the story. It’s hard not to talk about this movie without talking about the movie that it’s very similar to and is a much better movie, The Land Before Time. When I watched this movie, I couldn’t help getting those comparisons to Land Before Time from the main character, Arlo, looking and acting like a mix of Littlefoot and also Bambi, except both Littlefoot and Bambi were able to overcome their fears much quicker than Arlo does in this.
But the real problem with the movie is the script, they make a big deal about bringing in a new team to help make the story better but really, when you watch this movie, you really notice a downward spiral compared to how Pixar usually tells stories. I mean, let’s be honest, there’s no real motivation for the story except for getting Arlo back to his family and his connection with Spot but that’s it. It’s the typical buddy road movie done Pixar style but they’ve done this story before with the Toy Story films, the first Cars film, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Ratatouille, and Up in which two characters who don’t like each other at first bond over the course of several misadventures and here, it’s no exception. Pixar has been able to make it work in the past but here, a lot of just feels forced.
And nowhere is that obvious than the third act climax where they just take a random bad guy from previously in the film and make him the main bad guy for third act climax, they took a pterodactyl voiced by Steve Zahn, and made him and his cronies that main bad guys for the final act. Again, going back to The Land Before Time, the main baddie of that film was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a.k.a. ‘Sharptooth’, and here, the main baddie is a pterodactyl? Can you see the problems here?
Not only that but they really do force a death scene in here pretty lamely to the point where if you really look at it, the dinosaur that gets killed off could’ve easily survived. The dinosaur being Arlo’s father, let’s face it, it’s a Disney movie so obviously one parent is going to get bumped off, but the way they do it here, he’s able to get his son up to safety and there was still enough time for him to at least try to get to safety as well but no, he just looks at his son as he gets bumped off with a face that’s like, “well, son, hope you like being dadless” before the avalanche of debris hits him.
And even that logic gets ridiculously complicated after that as the scene following that, where Arlo gets separated from his family, he ends up getting swept away in the river and throughout the film, he gets bruised and banged up big time and gets put into situations where he clearly shouldn’t have made it out alive that even his father probably could’ve survived. It really does feel like that Pixar didn’t put their heart into the story itself and just forced the scriptwriter to get this out as quickly as it can and I know that the writer for this, Meg LeFauvre is a good writer, she wrote Inside Out and I really think she wasn’t given enough time to come out with a compelling story that Inside Out had.
Despite those important complaints I had towards the film, I still liked a lot of the movie itself.
I liked the characters in this, as much as I criticized Arlo for being a pale imitation to Littlefoot, I still think he’s a very likeable character and you do want him to overcome his fears and get back home and his connection with Spot is very genuine and real, their building friendship is definitely up there with what you’d expect from Pixar at this point. I also liked the characters Arlo and Spot come across like the dinosaur with all the animals on him, I wish they could’ve done more with that character, I liked the Tyrannosaurus Rex characters they had with Sam Elliott as the leader of the pack, and I even didn’t mind the pterodactyls, I just don’t think the movie should’ve forced them to be the bad guys for the end like they did.
The voice cast in this is really good, Raymond Ochoa did a great job as Arlo, Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand were great as his parents, Sam Elliott is always gonna be great as he is here playing Butch, I was surprised that Anna Paquin played his daughter, it was completely unrecognizable to me, AJ Buckley, Steve Zahn, Jack Bright, among others all doing a good job with the material given.
The comedy in this is pretty decent, there’s a lot of really great bits of humor throughout the movie, a lot of it was stuff in the trailers or, like I saw it, was already in the 10 minute preview for the film shown at Disney’s Hollywood Studios but nevertheless, I still got a good laugh.
The best aspect about The Good Dinosaur comes down to two things, the animation and the music. The animation in this movie is just beautiful, you can see where a lot of the money for this movie went to and it looks gorgeous, the setpieces are spectacular, it really does feel a lot like a western set in dinosaur times…yeah, I give the movie a lot of points for not putting itself out in the open as a western but it really feels like it, that’s actually the one aspect of the story I’ll give it credit for. The music is also great, Mychael & Jeff Danna do a really great job bringing the score to life with some incredible music.
The Good Dinosaur really is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s hard to talk about the problems with the movie without bringing up the far superior Land Before Time and how that movie was able to take more chances storywise and characterwise than this does without also talking about the holes in the plot and inconsistencies. But on the other hand, the characters are still very likeable, the voice acting is good, the comedy is good, and both the animation and the music is brilliant. While this is definitely one of Pixar’s lesser outings, it’s not on the level of a bad movie like Cars 2. It’s more on the levels of A Bug’s Life and Brave, maybe not great movies but still enjoyable enough to warrant a rewatch.
I just wished there was more for Pixar to offer with this one in terms of the story but you know what, I’ll gladly take this movie over Disney’s Dinosaur or Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs anyday so that’s a plus.
All-in-all, The Good Dinosaur was…well, good. Can’t get any simpler than that.
But let me tell you about a movie called The Land Before Time, a 1988 animated movie about dinosaurs trying to find their way back home. The main character of the movie, Littlefoot, loses her mother in an event that couldn’t have been prevented and has to find his way back home to his family, he meets new friends on the way and has to run away from the wrath of a giant tyrannosaurus rex all leading to a satisfying conclusion where the dinosaurs find The Great Valley and return to their families. This movie was rated G.
The Good Dinosaur is a PG rated animated movie about a dinosaur trying to find his way back home. The main character of this movie, Arlo, loses his father in an event that could’ve been prevented easily and has to find his way back home to his family, he comes across a new friend in the form of Spot, a human who acts like a dong and has to run away from the wrath of a pterodactyl all leading to a dissatisfying conclusion where the dinosaur returns home to his family.
Do you see the problem here???
The Good Dinosaur had the potential to be Disney’s really good answer to The Land Before Time but honestly, they butchered it to make it as safe and as cheesy as they could. And I liked the movie too but I’m sorry, The Land Before Time did this story way better than this movie did and was not afraid to go as dark and scary with the situations they had for these characters. They had five dinosaurs going up against a tyrannosaurus rex as the bad guy whose been all over the film. Who’s the biggest threat of The Good Dinosaur, a pterodactyl who was in only one scene prior to the final climax, that’s it.
I liked this movie but in comparing it to The Land Before Time, no contest that Land Before Time kicks the crap out of it. Even for Pixar, this is a subpar movie from them, it’s not Cars 2 level bad but it’s more mediocre on the level of Brave and A Bug’s Life. I just wanted much more from this movie and the fact that my expectations weren’t set, I had no choice but to put it on the dishonorable mentions list.
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