The Good Dinosaur
Imagine that the dinosaurs never became extinct. The meteor or whatever that wiped them out never happened. Wait. Before you start imagining dinosaurs talking on mobile phones and driving cars, back up. We’re not going that far in time, just up a few million years. The dinosaurs haven’t advanced beyond farming yet.
The Good Dinosaur is a wonderful animated story about a family of dinosaurs on their farm. They look like brontosauruses to me, very huge (my notes say they’re Apatosaurs). The three children, Libby, Buck and Arlo, are all different. Our story is mostly about Arlo, the smallest of the three dinosaurs, and his efforts to grow up.
All the children are encouraged by their parents to make their mark, proving they can help the family on the farm. But Arlo, fearful little Arlo, is having problems with this. He’s scared of just about everything. During one of his hikes with Dad, a storm comes up, flooding the river and taking Dad with it.
Now Arlo and his family have to do everything on their own, and one of Arlo’s challenges is to stop a “critter” from eating all their corn in the silo. He rises to the task and chases after the animal. But soon he’s lost, far from the farm. How will he get back?
Ok, so there’s your plot, pretty simple, and you can be forgiven for thinking this is just another kids’ movie about growing up. Because The Good Dinosaur is a very good movie inxdeed.
Let’s start with the animation, which is a work of art in itself. I didn’t see the 3D version, and I’m glad, because I was able to appreciate the artistry that went into the landscapes that are the background of the story. Let me just say that it rivals the real life cinematography of Disney’s Earth series of live action films, with aerial flyovers, torrential rains, huge flocks of birds, and endless vistas of mountain ranges. Personally, I don’t think you’re going to find a more beautiful animated film anywhere.
Second, this movie is really geared for children, perhaps even four and five year olds, because the story is simple, even slow at first. But that’s ok, not a single child got up out of their seat during this 90-minute movie. The Good Dinosaur had them captivated and fascinated. This is chiefly due to the skill of the cast and nuances of expression in all the faces.
Although I’d like to say that this movie is for all ages, there are some quite scary parts in the middle that from my experience, would be hard for a small child to watch. Kids younger than four, unless they’re very seasoned in the movies, may be too frightened to stay. Most of the Dinosaur Peril comes from wretched winged Pteranodons that evidently are starving. They threaten every living creature, including Arlo. Since all the dinosaurs talk in this movie, they’re pretty comical, but very menacing all the same.
Poor Arlo has no choice but to fend for his life, although he gets helped along the way. In my favorite sequence, he befriends a family of cowboys herding buffalo. The family happens to be one of Tyrannosauruses (Tyrannosaurii?) and you’ve never seen herding like this. They even tell stories around the campfire.
I haven’t mentioned the critter Arlo is chasing, and won’t give away much except to say that it becomes fast friends with Arlo and its name is Spot. Their relationship is part of what makes this movie so special.
If you take your children to see any movie this December, I’d recommend The Good Dinosaur. Rated PG for animated peril. Enjoy!