First published in the Holyoke Enterprise on December 24th, 2015.
Do my wife and I attend matinees of animated films alongside parents with small children? Yes, of course we do. Duh. Especially Disney/Pixar films. After over a month in theaters, we finally made it to see “The Good Dinosaur” and while not their best effort, it was still a very entertaining film.
Set around the premise that the giant asteroid didn’t hit Earth and wipe out all life as we know it, the dinosaurs thrive and develop a hunter/gatherer society. The herbivores dedicate themselves to farming and the carnivores become ranchers. I think. At least to the families of dinosaurs we meet in the film do so. Very clever I thought, though somewhat strange that the brontosauruses only grow corn. I guess this is North America then? Anyway, that’s just science getting in the way…
Little Arlo is afraid of everything. The runt of his family, he’s constantly overshadowed by the feats and talents of his brother and sister. Tasked by his Poppa (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) to catch and kill the critter getting into their silo, Arlo traps a human boy in his nets but can’t bring himself to kill it. The boy flees into the forest and he and Poppa follow. In true Disney/Pixar form, horrible things happen that break your heart and you once again ask yourself what you expect from these people who only seem to want to destroy your hope for happiness. #dramatic
Later, the boy returns and Arlo gives chase, ultimately ending up falling into the river and being taken so far downstream, he loses track of home. The boy, whom he later names Spot, protects and befriends him as they make their journey home through the dangerous wilderness, fraught was perilous mountains and dense forests, predators and scavengers, and even a T-Rex family and their herd of bison!
The animation is so crisp and picture-perfect, you’d almost think they shot a nature video and animated the characters over top. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, exciting, intense, heartfelt, and funny at times. It’s also kind of scary, so much so that the little girl a few seats over from us commented several times, “That’s scary, Mommy.”
Not one of my favorite Disney/Pixar films (certainly no “Up” or “Wall-E”), but a good movie nonetheless. Just maybe give it a few years if you’ve got younger kids. Unless they aren’t afraid of mother nature. ‘Cause she’s kind of the worst in this one…
Rating: Three out of Five Snack Packs