“The Good Dinosaur” asks the question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Pixar Animation Studios takes you on an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voice of Raymond Ochoa) makes an unlikely human friend. While traveling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
Last night I attended a preview screening of The Good Dinosaur. I received complimentary tickets in exchange for my honest review.
The Good Dinosaur left me in tears at the D23 Expo this summer. The clip shown at the event was all heart: exactly what we come to expect from a Pixar animated film. But there was something about it that didn’t flow quite right for me. Leaving the session that day, I had mixed emotions on this one.
It would either be great or… meh, not so much.
After watching the movie, I think it was both. Let me explain.
I took Seth, my 8-year-old son to this movie. I had some concerns based on the clip I had seen previously (hey, it’s Disney so this shouldn’t be a spoiler but… a parent dies in it). He laughed, he sighed a little, he was suitably grossed out at points in the movie: basically, he thought it was great.
After the film, I asked him what he thought about a few points, and he admitted they were a bit weird but still cool, so for an 8-year-old, this movie is a hit.
Younger kids will like this movie.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as smitten with the film. It’s good in parts, and some scenes are breathtaking, but it’s not on the same level as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or Inside Out.
But there was brilliance in this movie that makes it worth taking the kids to see it.
The animation: Oh my word, y’all. Stunning.
Do you remember how we all fawned over the animation in Beauty and the Beast, particularly the ballroom scene? This is like that feeling, only 1000 times better and more realistic.
There are scenes where I experienced vertigo looking over the edge of the mountain. It’s incredibly realistic, and the scenery steals the show.
We watched the movie in 3D, and I don’t often say this about 3D, but I think this enhanced the experience of this film. The leaves, the branches, the birds all looked like you could touch them in real life.
Where it fell flat for me was some of the storylines.
I had a few moments where I didn’t even like Arlo, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a Pixar protagonist before. I never really connected with him on the level that I have been spoiled with from Pixar.
It also didn’t help that we are asked to not only believe these dinosaurs can talk, but they are farmers as well. Legit farmers plowing fields and harvesting corn. Hmmmm.
I wasn’t *quite* expecting that turn of events to be honest.
There were some characters that we did love. Seth and I agreed that the T-Rex family were a lot of fun.
They are not the bad guys as you might expect; they help Arlo and Spot along their journey home.
Butch, voiced by Sam Elliot, plays a sweet substitute father figure for Arlo at a time where he is ready to face his fears once and for all.
Would the rest of my family like this one?
I’d say, Lucy, age 4.5, would love it. Claire, 10: would be a hit or miss here. She may have some deeper questions than Seth had about a few scenes (there’s a “bad fruit” trip that might need some explaining- seriously, Arlo and Spot are high, y’all) and Luke, 12, wouldn’t care for it much at all.
The Good Dinosaur opens nationwide on November 25, 2015.
Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.