Movie review: The Good Dinosaur is a throwback, and not just in the evolutionary sense | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movie review: The Good Dinosaur is a throwback, and not just in the evolutionary sense

Posted by on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 1:58 PM

click to enlarge The Good Dinosaur - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY/PIXAR
  • photo courtesy of Disney/Pixar
  • The Good Dinosaur
The Good Dinosaur
★★★
Opening Wednesday


The publicity materials for Disney and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur focus on the fact that it’s set in a world where an asteroid didn’t hit Earth and dinosaurs continued to evolve. What goes unmentioned is that the premise is an excuse for an old-fashioned children’s adventure story—a “boy and his dog” tale where the dog is the boy and the boy is a dinosaur.

Making the protagonists the more expected species would have resulted in something not unlike the adventurous coming-of-age tales that once populated children’s literature—and which were often adapted into Disney films and The Wonderful World of Disney Sunday movies. I mean stories such as Call It Courage, The Incredible Journey and even Old Yeller, though The Good Dinosaur, thankfully, does not require the hero to put down his pet cave-boy due to a case of rabies.

Set in an untouched American West with vistas that would make John Ford blush, The Good Dinosaur is a simple story of a dino homestead where a four-legged Apatosaurus family is apparently quite good at irrigation and growing corn despite a lack of opposable thumbs. Family runt Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is terrified of everything and despairs of never “making his mark,” a point the film illustrates literally. An encounter with a loin-clothed “critter” (Jack Bright) leads to a tragedy, and then Arlo is swept downriver, where he discovers that the cave-boy he resents is a surprisingly loyal companion on the long, danger-filled trip home.

If this sounds familiar … well, it’s not unlike the plot to another animated dinosaur film, The Land Before Time, but this is much more explicitly a wilderness adventure, as Arlo and the cave-boy (named “Spot”) encounter familiar situations with getting food, natural disasters and even “rustlers.” No cowboy hats are seen, though Sam Elliott does show up as a T. Rex with some life lessons to share.

Like the Cars films, The Good Dinosaur seems aimed at a tradition-loving Middle American audience—one that misses the coming-of-age tales where a wimpy boy must face his fears when cut off from home and family. There’s a darkness to this story that contrasts with the soft, toy-like pastel dinosaurs; Arlo suffers about every physical and emotional trauma possible in a Disney flick, dead parent included.

Whether you like this film depends on your fondness for this type of story. It’s done well enough, with some breathtaking panoramas and a few tear-jerking scenes. But it’s all a little old-fashioned for Pixar, which has done its best work breathing fresh life into tired ideas. The Good Dinosaur doesn’t feel particularly innovative, or even interested in exploring the dinosaur-based society it’s created. But it’s interesting to see that old-fashioned children’s adventure stories aren’t, for lack of a better term, extinct.

Tags: , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

an industry funded propaganda piece that equates GMO concerns about transparency, and the slippery slope of patenting seeds and increased …

by Roy Kortick on Documentary Food Evolution Is an Unusually Measured Look at the Polarizing GMO Debate (Arts)

We will see a few dedicated people(or bots not sure on that) that will try to instill doubt about this …

by Robert Wager on Documentary Food Evolution Is an Unusually Measured Look at the Polarizing GMO Debate (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

an industry funded propaganda piece that equates GMO concerns about transparency, and the slippery slope of patenting seeds and increased …

by Roy Kortick on Documentary Food Evolution Is an Unusually Measured Look at the Polarizing GMO Debate (Arts)

We will see a few dedicated people(or bots not sure on that) that will try to instill doubt about this …

by Robert Wager on Documentary Food Evolution Is an Unusually Measured Look at the Polarizing GMO Debate (Arts)

Scientific consensus was that smoking was, not only safe, but good for you, for over 70 years. While a group …

by marcuscassius on Documentary Food Evolution Is an Unusually Measured Look at the Polarizing GMO Debate (Arts)

Great movie! I finally watched it online in HD. I figured some of you guys would want to watch it …

by Vhia setiawan on Movie Review: Believe the Hype About Black Panther, an All-Time Great Superhero Saga (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation