Pixar and Walt Disney Home Entertainment bring “The Good Dinosaur” into the 21st Century and the hearts of millions. The animated adventure is directed by Peter Sohn (“Partly Cloudy”) from a script written by Bob Peterson (“Finding Nemo”), Peter Sohn, Erik Benson (“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation”), Meg LeFauve (“Inside Out”), and Kelsey Mann. Voice actors include Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, and Jack Bright.
Luckily for young Arlo, his parents (Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand) and his two siblings (Maleah Nipay-Padilla, Marcus Scribner), the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years ago. When a rainstorm washes poor Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) downriver, he ends up bruised, battered and miles away from home. Good fortune shines on the frightened dino when he meets Spot (Jack Bright), a Neanderthal boy who offers his help and friendship. Together, the unlikely duo embark on an epic adventure to reunite Arlo with his beloved family in “The Good Dinosaur.”
Imagine if the giant asteroid that hit the Earth millions of years ago somehow missed its mark and dinosaurs were never wiped out. I’m a creationist, so I don’t believe in the theory anyway. But just for the sake of story here, let’s say humans were never given the chance to “evolve” from the cavemen era.
What starts out with an interesting, albeit flawed (hey, if evolution can be crammed down my throat, don’t give me trouble for voicing my opinion here), concept quickly devolves into the typical formulaic movie about a hero’s journey to find his family and home. All the usual things happen to our heroes Arlo and Spot. One or more of their parents die and they somehow find themselves lost with only each other to rely on.
“The Good Dinosaur” is rated PG for peril, action and thematic elements. Parents die, but most children are used to this by now after watching any number of Pixar and Disney films. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the plot device, I just think it’s humorous to point out. Unlike “The Wizard of Oz,” most of the characters we meet along the way are creepy and rather menacing. I guess that’s to prepare youngsters for what to expect in real life.
The Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD edition of “The Good Dinosaur” contains quite a bit of bonus material for those who like to dig deep into the making of a movie. Featurettes like “The Filmmaker’s Journey,” “True Lies about Dinosaurs,” “Recyclosaurus,” “Every Part of the Dinosaur,” and “Following the T-Rex Trail” all provide a look behind the scenes of the production. A short animated promotional clip entitled “Hide and Seek” is found. We also get deleted scenes with intros for previous versions of the film.
As much as it tries, “The Good Dinosaur” just can’t reach the level of charisma and quality so many other Pixar films have attained over the years. I think many children will find it a bit slow to start and possibly lose interest before it even gets moving. I also felt a pattern of repetition when it came to the mostly mean-spirited characters we were introduced to on Arlo and Spot’s journey. In the end, the movie feels disappointing when compared to Pixar classics like “Toy Story,” “Wall-E,” and even “Cars.”
“The Good Dinosaur” is available now on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.