Starring the voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn. Directed by Peter Sohn. (2015, 94 min). DISNEY / PIXAR
The Good Dinosaur will likely be remembered as Pixar's 'other' film released in 2015. The first, Inside Out, was such a triumphant return-to-form for the studio that this one was kind-of overshadowed and, to be honest, pales in comparison. While it isn't one of Pixar's homeruns, The Good Dinosaur hits a solid RBI double.
The initial what-if premise - an asteroid believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs actually missed - is mostly a gimmick to allow reptiles and humans to co-exist. Arlo is the fearful runt in a family of Apatosauruses, who maintain a corn field. Tragic circumstances (of the usual Disney variety) result in Argo being lost and on his own to find his way back home. He eventually befriends Spot, a feral caveboy who's also without a family. Enemies at first, these two learn to depend on each other for survival from one encounter to the next, which includes briefly falling-in with a family of cattle-herding T-Rexes.
There aren't a lot of surprises here, but the journey is entertaining enough and, as usual, the film is brilliantly animated. The Good Dinosaur might also be the only Pixar film made exclusively with kids in-mind, nearly devoid of gags or references only their parents would appreciate (save for Sam Elliott's casting as the head T-Rex). While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does automatically render the film one of the studio's lesser efforts.
Part of me also has to question the use of dialogue. The best scenes are those where no words are spoken, particular one near the end which is the most emotionally poignant in the entire film. Think of the heart-breaking intro to Up or the entire first half of WALL-E. TheY are dialogue free, yet we're run still through an emotional wringer. The dialogue and voices in The Good Dinosaur aren't terrible or anything, but is it really necessary for these dinosaurs to speak? Couldn't the creative geniuses at Pixar found a way to tell the same story without words? If so, they might have had another masterpiece on their hands.
But I digress, because even with the missed creative opportunities, The Good Dinosaur is engaging, funny, suspenseful and better than a majority of the other 2015 films passing themselves off as family fare. Besides, if Pixar was to take my advice and get rid of all the dialogue, that would mean we couldn't enjoy Elliott's alligator campfire tale (the funniest scene in the entire film).
- Featurettes: "The Filmmakers' Journey" (arguably the most comprehensive of the bonus features); "Hide and Seek"; "True Lies About Dinosaurs"; "Recyclosaurus"; "Every Part of the Dinsaur"; "Following the T-Rex Trail" (a real life family of Oregon Ranchers who inspired the T-Rex family in the film)
- Deleted Scenes
- Short Film: "Sanjay's Super Team" (which is cute, but not one of Pixar's best shorts)
- DVD & Digital Copies