The Good Dinosaur Review

Well, Pixar has done it again, adding another great film to their pantheon of movies.  “The Good Dinosaur” tells a what if kind of story.  What if the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs missed the Earth?  How would humans and dinosaurs live with each other?  This what if scenario is explored in “The Good Dinosaur.”  “The Good Dinosaur” tells the story of Arlo, an Apatosaurus who makes an unlikely human friend, after being separated from his family.  The human is named Spot, who acts like a dog, while Arlo communicates like a human.  This genre reversal is clever and works wonders for this kind of tale.  Arlo and Spot have a series of adventures as they must find their way back home, while working with each other and other dinosaurs.

“The Good Dinosaur” is an amazing story of love, family and friendship.  This movie tugs on your heartstrings and at times made me teary, as most Pixar films do.  This movie had a lot of emotion, fun action sequences and just a solid story that worked really well for this Pixar outing.  The movie isn’t as deep as “Toy Story,” “Wall-E” or “Up,” but it has all of the combined elements that makes this a really good Pixar movie that a lot of people will enjoy.  “Inside Out” came out during the summer season and was hailed as one of Pixar’s best films.  I enjoyed the movie to a certain degree but didn’t find myself attached to it like previous Pixar films.  For me, “Inside Out” didn’t really feel like a Pixar film, partly because of the animation style and the story didn’t have the emotion that I was expecting.  With “The Good Dinosaur” however, this to me felt as close to a Pixar movie that you can get.

The thing that really wowed me about this movie was the animation of the landscapes.  Holy Cow!  The environment and the way the animation rendered with flow was spectacular.  In fact, this is the most beautifully looking Pixar film that I have ever seen.  The grasslands, the water falls, and the mountain ranges looked so incredibly real it was scary.  The designs of the characters were also exceptional, especially the design for the T-Rexes.  They looked scary but at the same time cartoonish enough for kids that they won’t get scared.  There are a few scenes involving glow bugs that is just eye popping candy, a feast for the imagination.  The animation earns an A for being quite exceptional.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was the Western overtones.  When you sit back and look at this film from an adult perspective, this is a Western for kids, with dinosaurs in it.  There are tons of homages to John Ford’s red flowing landscapes, along with a “Little House on the Prairie” vibe with Arlo and his family.  Once in a while, the music even sounded like a western film, something from the Clint Eastwood, John Wayne Days.  The movie has a certain romanticism about it that truly is a marvel to explore.  And what better way to show the Western spirit than by having actor Sam Elliot voice Butch the daddy T-Rex.  Butch sits down with his family telling stories by the fire, in the vein of any good Western.  And then you see them herding cattle as you would see in a Western.  This film completely encapsulates the Western genre as well with the tropes that go with it and I adored the movie for doing this, making it truly a standout.

As much as I loved “The Good Dinosaur,” there were a few things that didn’t work.  Once in a while the film seemed to lose it’s focus.  There were times when the movie dragged and the minimal dialogue didn’t seem to help the flow.  I thought the movie starts off pretty slow, and takes a while to get going, but after those first 15 minutes, the film gains some steam.  I think the movie could have been a little bit shorter, or they could have put more adventure into the movie helping the pacing.  I will say that by the end of the movie, the emotion and the heart behind these characters definitely pays off.  It felt at times tedious and predictable, but overall this was a wonderful little movie.  This is sort of a mix between “The Land Before Time” and “We’re Back.”  The movie had some great humor but a lot of sad, deep emotional stuff that adults will appreciate.

“The Good Dinosaur” won’t be remembered as one of their best, but it’s a great addition to the Pixar library.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I think that children and adults can find something in this movie to love and adore.  “The Good Dinosaur” is a great crowd-pleaser, that audiences can enjoy during the Holiday season.  “The Good Dinosaur” shines with its little moments, producing a vast amount of emotions, drama and heart.  “The Good Dinosaur” is charming and is sure to bring a smile to your face as it did to mine.

Grade:  A-

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