When I heard that Disney was going to release two Pixar films this year, I couldn’t believe it. I love the animation studio and felt spoiled. But hey, no complaints here! The library of movies needed a good shot in the arm after some mediocre outings. Inside Out, released earlier this year, was absolutely gorgeous, creative, and perfect. Yes, perfect. After watching it, I really began to wonder if The Good Dinosaur would be able to top it.
Well I am here to state that it doesn’t. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. I’m aware of its troubled production but in the end not that did not jade my review of the film. With that being said, The Good Dinosaur combines stunning animation with a quiet story that is both beautiful and heartfelt. It has a few parallels to a older Disney film, The Lion King, so it lacks the originality that Inside Out had in spades. Despite that, this tale of two creatures brought together is still one of Pixar’s better entries and, if you let it, it will get tears out of you.
The Good Dinosaur tells the story of Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), a brontosaurus who definitely isn’t like the beast he ought to be. He’s skiddish, fearful, and most of the time, running from his chores (which is feeding chickens). The storytellers actually place dinosaurs in the roles of modern day farmers, which is a really interesting aspect to watch. It goes far beyond the cars in Cars doing human things, but maybe that’s just because I like dinosaurs.
Anyway, Arlo gets separated from his family chasing after a “critter (Jack Bright)” and gets washed up on shore ways away from his home. He quickly comes face to face again with the “critter,” who happens to be a human being, but acts like a dog. Which is hilarious. Kids will eat up that joke as well. The two bond over time, and, as they travel back to Arlo’s family, learn more about each other and themselves.
The journey that Arlo and his buddy take lets Pixar really show off their work. The scenery showcase of widespread plains, mountains, waterfalls, and other landscapes is downright jaw dropping. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the background sometimes. How does Pixar make water look so good? It is also important to note that despite the realism of the “scenic route,” it does not clash with the cartoon style of the dinosaurs or the other characters.
The movie is a bit slow at points, and, as mentioned earlier, Arlo and the human don’t talk much. There’s just a lot of emotion and gestures made between the two. The score accompanying these actions is wonderful and it drives the movie in more silent parts.
The Good Dinosaur may not be for everyone. It doesn’t have the zaniness of Inside Out or the imagination of Toy Story. It’s doesn’t shock you with creativity. However, the film is just a story about family that doesn’t have to be connected by blood. It’s about friendship, overcoming your fears, and being the best you can be. Who can’t relate? Sometimes taking a simple approach to tell us a tale is all that you need. Pixar has proven yet again why it is the best animation studio in the business. This film is not perfect, but nobody asked it to be. It’s a beautiful and heartfelt movie, and I ending up loving it. The Good Dinosaur is not just good. It actually turns out to be pretty great.
Note: The Pixar short before the movie, titled Sanjay’s Super Team, was a unique story with wonderful animation. Really different than anything Pixar has done in the short film category. Good stuff.
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Pop-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and ABC’s The Goldbergs.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, among other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-