The forgotten child. Imagine a world where the giant meteor that caused the ice age missed the Earth and dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, but rather continued to evolve. This is about a family of farming dinosaurs. The youngest, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), feels like he has something to prove. When he becomes separated from his family and has to make his way back home, he has to team up with a human named Spot (Jack Bright) to help him survive the journey, as he has never been self-sufficient before this time. Now this is actually a first for Pixar. In their entire company history, they have never released two films in the same year. I’m not about to say that The Good Dinosaur isn’t without its merits, but the standout of the year has to be Inside Out, all the way.
But you could probably already guess that if you took a peak at my ‘Best of’ list.
One very interesting and bold choice that The Good Dinosaur makes is the contrasting animation styles. When this first starts, you could easily find yourself mistakenly thinking that you are watching real life non-animated film if you just blindly decided to watch a random movie, as the backgrounds really are that hyper-realistic. Simply put: the backgrounds on this are some of the most incredibly rendered animation that I’ve ever seen in my life. Pixar chose to put this against noticeably cartoonishly drawn characters. It took a short bit of time to adjust, because it really is that jarring, but the longer it went on, the more I dug the artistic decision.
Any time this movie does anything with nature, it’s animated gold.
One of the most noteworthy things about this is how strikingly simple the story is to The Good Dinosaur. It’s really just a very straightforward boy and his dog story, only they reversed the normal roles to have the “dog” as the boy and vice versa. On a personal level, I did enjoy how it turned into a Western there in the second act, but that is something that I will almost always be able to appreciate in any sort of movie. I liked this a bunch, but there are reasons why this is considered to be a lesser Pixar film, most of which stem from a fractured production (they swapped directors mid-production). The dialogue doesn’t sparkle, and there are no quotable lines that you walk away retaining. Also, the character of Arlo does somewhat frequently come off as being a whiny and petulant.
It’s like: we get it, you’re afraid of EVERYTHING.
Overall I felt myself coming out with far more positives than I did negatives. The fact of the matter is that unless we are talking about Cars 2, even a lesser Pixar production is better than 90% of the other studio animated movies out there, and with the amount of criticism this has faced, I think this movie can officially be labeled as being underrated. I think this is cute more than anything, and I feel like this is for smaller children more than it is for adults, which isn’t something I would say about the majority of Pixar’s library. The bottom line is that I am far more jazzed to get an original property than I am a churned out sequel any day of the week, and for that, I tip my hat to The Good Dinosaur.
The Good Dinosaur (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire