By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A (3 ½ stars)
The hopping Luxo lamp strikes again, Pixar Animation Studios, the studio behind the critically acclaimed and commercially successful animated family films, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Up, and Inside Out return with their latest animated film, The Good Dinosaur, the second Pixar film released in 2015, the first being Inside Out back in June. That’s right, we get two Pixar movies this year and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m a huge fan of Pixar’s work…most of it (I didn’t like Cars 2, but then again, who did?) so naturally I couldn’t miss Inside Out or The Good Dinosaur, much like DreamWorks, they’re an animation studio that keeps luring me back with movies, no matter how old I get.
So with Inside Out becoming one of my favorite movies of 2015 as well as one of my favorite animated movies and films in general of all time, I was curious to see if The Good Dinosaur would have the same reaction. And…it’s about the same as what I thought of Brave, it’s not a masterpiece like many of their other movies, but the story is cute, the main characters have strong chemistry, the animation is gorgeous, and everything else that works well in this movie, it works REALLY well.
It’s pretty much a standard kids’ movie with its overall cute appearance, much like Cars, but that doesn’t mean parents or other adult audiences won’t enjoy it as much as the younger audience. The film manages to balance colorful characters and humorous and cute situations for the kiddies, but also enough gripping drama to keep the adults’ attention, usually that’s what I consider a perfect family film.
In an alternate timeline where the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago missed and they evolved with time, we find a Momma dinosaur, Ida (voiced by Frances McDormand-Burn After Reading, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted) and Poppa dinosaur, Henry (voiced by Jeffrey Wright-Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, The Hunger Games franchise) dinosaur and their three children, Buck (voiced by Marcus Scribner), Libby (voiced by Maleah Padilla), and the smallest dinosaur, Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa-10 Items or Less, Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh) taking care of their responsibilities and tasks on their farm (Yes, dinosaurs are farmers in this movie!) in order to make their family mark. A mark is made after one of them accomplishes a goal or do something great, which is no problem for Buck and Libby, but then there’s Arlo.
Unlike Buck and Libby, Arlo is much shorter and not as strong as them, which makes it difficult for him to do his daily chores, especially feeding a group of angry chicken bird things. Hoping to give Arlo a sense of purpose, Henry recruits him to trap a critter that’s been breaking into their silo of food and stealing their food. One day a trap does capture a critter, a caveboy that acts like a dog, however Arlo is too reluctant to kill him, so he lets him go, Poppa is mad with him, and the two of them attempt to catch him, unfortunately the attempt costs Poppa Henry his life.
Sad and Poppa-less, Arlo finds the caveboy again, attempts to catch him for making him lose his Poppa, but what follows is Arlo and the caveboy get caught in a storm and get washed away along the river to a new part of the world. Arlo and the caveboy named Spot (voiced by Jack Bright) become friends and work together to make it back home to Arlo’s family.
Along the way, they run into a Tyrannosaurus Rex family, Butch (voiced by Sam Elliot-The Big Lebowski, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass), his son, Nash (voiced by A.J. Buckley-Supernatural, Wolverine and the X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), his daughter, Ramsey (voiced by Anna Paquin-The Piano, Fly Away Home, X-Men franchise) who help them on their journey back home, a trio of villainous Pterodactyls, Thunderclap (voiced by Steve Zahn-You’ve Got Mail, Happy, Texas, Stuart Little), Downpour (voiced by Mandy Freund), and Coldfront (voiced by Steven Clay Hunter) who are on the hunt to catch Arlo’s critter friend, a Styracosaurus who has several animals on his horns known as Forrest Woodbush (voiced by Peter Sohn-Ratatouille, Monsters University), and an evil Velociraptor rustler, Bubbha (voiced by Dave Boat-Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Clarence).
Overall, The Good Dinosaur is a sweet, funny, and gripping addition to the Pixar Animation Studios library, though I wouldn’t consider it their best work, I still prefer Inside Out and some of their other films, but that does not mean I think it’s a bad movie, No, not at all. It shares the same opinion I have with Brave, it’s not a Pixar masterpiece, but the things they do well, they do really well.
The friendship between Arlo and Spot is cute, with very few words coming out of Spot, you know, with him being like a dog, which I thought was both very funny and clever at the same time. What really impresses me is that the two of them have very strong chemistry, without a full conversation, well done Pixar.
This is my “Go to” family film for the Thanksgiving holiday, if you’re a fan of Pixar’s work and looking for a fun family outing, look no further, because this is your flick. I’m glad we had 2 Pixar movies this year, one was great and the other was “Good”, I pretty much have nothing but positivity to say about Pixar at the moment, and I’m looking forward to their next film, Finding Dory next year.