When one thinks of animated movies, one thinks Pixar. Pixar makes stunningly beautiful movies that touch the hearts of the viewers. Movies such as "Toy Story" and "Up" have made movie goers laugh and cry thanks to the amazing stories that Pixar brings to life.
One of Pixar's recent films, "The Good Dinosaur," hasn't performed as well compared to films like "Monsters Inc." and "Finding Nemo." "The Good Dinosaur" is the studio’s lowest-grossing film ever both domestically and worldwide. Many think it may be that way because it was released only five months after the critically claimed movie "Inside Out" which was also created by Pixar, which ended up winning the Oscar for best animated feature film. So being overshadowed by a masterpiece, like "Inside Out," would make it hard for any movie to get in the spotlight.
After seeing all the tweets and reviews bashing the film, I still decided to give "The Good Dinosaur" a chance... And I wasn't disappointed! It may not be Pixar's best, but it is far from a bad movie. People expect a home run from Pixar every time, which is literally impossible. "The Good Dinosaur" is still a quality movie even though its not the studio's best. I have four reasons why "The Good Dinosaur" doesn't deserve its description has pixar's worst movie.
1. The Stunning Scenery
At points during the film the viewer can easily forget that he or she is watching an animated film and not a documentary about nature. The environment where the movie takes place is stunningly life like. For example, at the beginning of the film, as the opening credits are going across the screen, the viewer gets to see the glorious visuals that I didn't even know where possible in an animated film.
The river, where our lead (Arlo voiced by Raymond Ochoa) lives, looks like the studio just filmed a real river instead of creating it with computers. Throughout the film, as you follow Arlo and his new friend Spot, voiced by Jack Bright, the viewer gets to see how the environment changes with the time of day and with the weather. This movie is one of the most visually beautiful animated films to date.
2. It Makes the Coming-of-Age Story Brand New
To its core, "The Good Dinosaur" is very simple, and fairly conventional, coming-of-age story. In a world where our media is filled with young heroes, movie goers don't usually get to see a movie where our "hero" starts as innocent at Arlo does.
Arlo starts out as a scared little dinosaur who doesn’t understand anything, and we follow him as he confronts some scary stuff and learns all about the wrath of nature and the miracle of survival—and surviving means making your peace with danger. One overt theme in the film is learning to cope with fear. Everyone loves a coming-of-age story and like most this one doesn't disappoint.
3. The Relationship Between Arlo and Spot
Everyone has heard the saying, "a boy and his dog." Just because a dog isn't human doesn't mean there isn't a connection between it and it's owner. Arlo and Spot's relationship is very similar to this, but goes a lot deeper. Arlo meets Spot for the first time on his family's farm trying to steal corn. Arlo traps him, but sets him free. In doing so, Arlo disappoints his father voiced by Jeffrey Wright and they both go after spot to kill him.
Because of this, Poppa meets his end due to a storm that floods the river, but before he dies he's able to save Arlo. Arlo eventually sees Spot again stealing corn again from his family. During Arlo and Spots tussle, They fall into the river. This is where their relationship changes and develops. The viewer and Arlo eventually learn the Spot's parents are dead and the two share a moment that the viewer can see that Arlo realizes it wasn't Spots fault Poppa died.
Towards the end of the film Spot gets in trouble and eventhough he's scared, Arlo goes and saves his new friend because he is important to him. For that same reason, Arlo knows he can't come home with him and he tells Spot to stay with the other humans they find and be part of their family. Through their shared traumatic experiences of losing their family, they created a bond that will tug at the heart strings of the viewer.
4. One of Pixar's Saddest Films
The relationship between Arlo and Spot is the emotional core of the film, but it’s Arlo’s scenes with his Poppa that carry the most weight. Arlo, being the smallest of his siblings, is the one his brother and sister pick on the most. This bother Buck voiced by Marcus Scribner and sister Libby voiced by Maleah Nipay-Padilla had already made their mark on the family farm, but Arlo was struggling to do so. Arlo can’t seem to move past his fears of everything. But Poppa never gives up on him. Poppa recognized that his son, like everyone else, had certain limitations, and also strengths.
Poppa is kind, understanding and patient. But since its a Pixar movie and the studio like to make the viewers cry... Poppa dies protecting Arlo during a raging storm. He doesn't die before he can give Arlo one last “everything is going to be OK, son”-look, which just drove the knife even deeper into the viewer's chest. Shortly after his father’s death, Arlo has to come to terms with his father’s death while overcoming his fears of the world.
With the tragic end of poppa, Arlo needing to come to terms with poppa's death, and the relationship between Arlo and Spot (discussed in the previous reason), "The Good Dinosaur" could be Pixar's saddest movie to date.
Just because its not a home run by Pixar's standards, "The Good Dinosaur" is still a film that is worth the watch. This is a journey through the wilderness into adulthood, and it succeeds by being both wild and humane.