The Good Dinosaur

I wasn’t overly excited about this latest Pixar offering. I’d seen the trailers and thought it was a little off-putting to have a cartoony dinosaur dancing around some very photo-real landscapes. Watching the movie, though, it was the furthest thing from my GD4mind. The animation is stunning. I particularly loved the bits with water, the reflective surfaces sparkling in the sun. It was gorgeous.

But there’s a great little story that goes along with it, about a boy and his dog, Spot. Except the boy is a longneck dinosaur named Arlo, and the dog is in fact a boy, named Spot. This movie is set in a make believe time when the dinosaurs never went extinct so they’re living at the same time as humans. Little Arlo is living peaceably on the family farm (I LOVED to see dinosaurs discover agriculture) with his parents and siblings when a “critter” starts raiding their food THE GOOD DINOSAURstores. Spot is a mangy, hungry, feral critter, and the two are at odds until the script conspires to cast them off on an adventure together.

The movie had me both belly-laughing and fat-tear crying within its first 20 minutes. Neither the tears nor the laughs let up, either. It’s a fairly simple story with a lot of Pixar heart. It’s quiet for long stretches (the dinosaurs talk; humans do not) but the characters are so facially expressive and nuanced, you don’t miss it. And every scene they walk through is a painting, with depth of field and detail enough to keep your hungry eyes constantly eating up the scenery (we saw it in 3D).

This movie is probably more relatable to  younger kids than Inside Out was, but there are some mature themes here as well. Arlo and maxresdefaultSpot live in nature, which is both cruel and kind. The potential for harm is more present in this movie than in other children’s fare, and they don’t shy away from death and grief either.

Sean was a little less moved by the film than I was (which, I suppose, is always the case) but I felt quite emotionally connected to it. Maybe it’s because Spot reminded me a lot of my little nephew Jack, both in looks and in temperament (Jack’s Papa calls him ‘Joe Pesci’, completely endearingly, for his wildman ways, though Jack is not yet 2). And maybe it’s because of the very simple but very moving and dignified way they deal with loss. At any rate, I’d say it’s a welcome addition to the Pixar family and a worthy way to spend your time and money at the cinema. I wish I could get in there and tweak the ending just a smidge (let me know how you felt about it), but overall I walked out with puffy eyes but a singing heart.



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26 thoughts on “The Good Dinosaur

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  2. calensariel

    We don’t normally do kids’ movies, but you have just convinced me to see this one, Jay! Sometimes crying at a movie is the only way I can let out my dammed up tears… Sounds perfect for a good emptying.


  3. Sean

    I could see the emotional connection you had to this one. You’re right, I didn’t connect that same way. For me, this was an enjoyable movie but I would not put it ahead of Inside Out or my very favourite Pixar movies, like Up, Toy Story, or the Incredibles.

    That may be because it feels more like a kids’ movie but you’re right, the Good Dinosaur contains some mature themes and a surprising amount of death (and consequent grief).

    So it’s kind of a mixed bag and I think that mix is at the root of why I don’t put it in the same class as Pixar’s best.


  4. Birgit

    I had heard about the river incident. Fairy tales can always feel cruel (think Bambi) but it is a growing lesson. I was not thinking much about this film until your review and what I watched last night about it so I will probably rent it when it comes out (yes I still rent)


  5. killkenny16

    This looks fun/heartbreaking. I’m still debating about watching this or Creed (Or both?). One thing that kind of bugs me about this one is the cartoony character designs contrasted against the beautiful, super-realistic backgrounds. I’m aware it’s a nitpick, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.


  6. fifi + hop

    My girls are dying to see this and I haven’t read anything about it until now so really glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, because with all animated movies I don’t really have a choice about going or not..we always do:).


    1. Jay Post author

      I can’t even decide if this one is more child-like than other Pixar films…it’s definitely a very simple story, but it did have some mature themes.


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