THE GOOD DINOSAUR. (8.5 out of 10) Directed by Peter Sohn; Written by Meg LeFauve; Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Peter Sohn, Steve Zahn, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley; Rated PG for “peril, action and thematic elements”; Running time 100 minutes; In wide release November 25, 2015.
It’s just not fair, Pixar. You’re making all the other movie studios (especially digital animation studios) look bad by delivering not just one, but two, instant classics this year.
"The Good Dinosaur" asks what would’ve happened if the asteroid never hit the Earth, causing the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Millions of years later, it is dinosaurs who are developing early agriculture and animal husbandry, while humans are merely feral little “critters,” causing more nuisance than anything else.
Our story focuses on a family of brachiosaurus with a family farm near the base of Clawtooth Mountain alongside a river. The family welcomes three children, the smallest of which is Arlo. Through a series of accidents he is swept downriver and has to make his way home, at which time he bonds with a tiny human critter who becomes his companion on what becomes an epic journey of self-discovery that is the stuff Disney is made of.
This is the most perfect “a boy and his dog” movie ever made-- except that the boy in question is a dinosaur. You throw in a little bit of Disney magic: some "Lion King," some "The Incredible Journey," and some Pixar, and this is a crowd-pleasing movie that kids are going to go nuts for.
The tiny man-cub "critter" who Arlo adopts/ who adopts Arlo is one of the most adorable and awesome Pixar creations in years. He's cute, exciting, and the best "faithful companion" character since Dug in 2009's "Up"-- though with zero vocabulary.
And yes, it's going to make you cry. And just in time for Thanksgiving, it's going to have a lot to say about family.
And in the best tradition of other Pixar classics (like how "Toy Story 3" turns into "The Great Escape" for its middle act) so too does "The Good Dinosaur" become a full-blown Western when Arlo encounters a dinosaur family voiced by Sam Elliot, Anna Paquin, and AJ Buckley who herds cattle. In most movies this would be the kiss of death. Pixar makes it work and makes it one of the best parts of the film.
On top of all of this, the film is very funny. There are a lot of gags and jokes in here, including a scene where Arlo and Spot hallucinate due to the effects of eating fermented fruits. ("Pink Elephants on Parade", anyone?)
This is sure to delight especially kids, but also adults. Anyone for whom Inside Out was maybe too mature and thinky, this is your movie right here.
8.5 out of 10