Review: 'The Good Dinosaur' is simply that
Disney/Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” is bound to do well at the box office this holiday weekend, but there’s still plenty parents should be prepared for when taking the kids to see this seemingly benign dinosaur movie.
Imagine a world where dinosaurs never went extinct. They farm, own herds of cattle, and talk like humans. That’s the premise of this animated film that follows a young Apatosaurus named Arlo, who is born the runt of the litter, the most timid and fearful of his siblings. His father encourages Arlo to be courageous and leave his mark on the world, but Arlo can’t escape his fears. He also fails at capturing and killing the “critter” that keeps stealing his family’s corn, which leads to tragedy. Arlo gets lost and goes on an unexpected adventure with only a human boy as his companion. Spot — the name Arlo gives his new “pet,” a caveman-like human — acts like a dog and protects Arlo on their journey across a picturesque computer-generated landscape.
This movie is clearly marketed at young children, and kids who love dinosaurs will enjoy seeing them brought to life in adorable Pixar form. On the other hand, parents familiar with other Disney and Pixar classics will see a lot of recycled ideas thrown into this sometimes dark and scary-for-kids story. For example, my friend and I saw a lot of “The Lion King,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Finding Nemo” in the simplistic storytelling of “The Good Dinosaur.”
If you have very young or sensitive children, you should probably be warned that this movie deals with a significant death and is a little violent at times. For example, hyena-like Pterodactyls and Velociraptors attack Arlo on multiple occasions, he gets swept away by raging flood waters (which might scare kids affected by South Carolina's recent floods) and a character telling a story says things like, “I drowned him in a pool of my own blood.”
There’s also not a lot of dialogue throughout the movie, which might bore some children. On the positive, the scenery is mostly amazing, featuring life-like water and landscapes mixed with the cartoonish dinosaur characters. It also teaches kids that overcoming one's fears allows him to see the beauty on the other side of those fears.
At its heart, “The Good Dinosaur” is simply a coming-of-age story about a boy and his pet, but the boy happens to be a dinosaur and his pet is a human. Most kids will enjoy it, and some parents will, too. Unfortunately, “The Good Dinosaur” isn’t as great as previous Pixar movies, which might leave plenty of parents feeling let down.
"The Good Dinosaur" is simply that. It’s good but not great.
This movie is rated PG and is now playing in theaters nationwide.