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THE GOOD DINOSAUR (review)

good_dinosaur_ver3THE GOOD DINOSAUR

Written by Meg LeFauve / Directed by Peter Sohn / Voices by Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand

Poppa: Sometimes you gotta get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.

Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR is aptly named. It’s good, not great. I feel like every time I write about a Pixar movie, I write about it within the context of their oeuvre, which certainly isn’t fair to the individual films themselves. It’s just that some of their films are so original and so moving that it’s hard to calm the expectations when a new offering comes around, especially when that offering is following the brilliant INSIDE OUT. THE GOOD DINOSAUR can be quite moving at times but it is its lack of originality that will be this dinosaur’s undoing.

Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is a runt of a dino-litter born into a world where the asteroid that caused the dinosaur’s extinction never hit the Earth. His siblings prove to be hard workers on the family farm (dinosaurs don’t just eat leaves off trees in this world either) but Arlo is basically afraid of everything and anything. Still, his parents (voiced by Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand) refuse to give up on him. To prove his worth after a devastating storm, Arlo chases after a critter (or human to you and me) but only manages to get lost and pulled far from home. He ends up befriending the small human he names Spot, which works because he actually acts just like a dog, and they make the long journey home together.

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If I know anything about dinosaurs from watching animated movies about them (THE LAND BEFORE TIME, ICE AGE), it is that they often get separated from their packs, make unexpected friends with other breeds and travel long distances together. THE GOOD DINOSAUR tries to put its own spin on this trek by giving the film a Western feel. While this makes for some interesting scenes around a campfire, director Peter Sohn doesn’t commit to the motif fully so the film doesn’t feel consistent in its tone. That said, the Western approach does make for some stunning animation, with some of the vast backdrops looking more real than reality itself.

The good news for Pixar is that even when their films don’t quite get where they need to go, they are still a cut above the majority of the generic junk that is spoon fed to children these days. Aside from the aforementioned panoramic wonder of the animation itself, THE GOOD DINOSAUR makes for an enjoyable experience that will surely entertain its intended audience with its light humour and fairly obvious lesson about facing your fears. There are even a couple of scenes that capture that emotional Pixar magic that make you understand family in a whole new way. Despite moments of majesty along the way though, this dinosaur’s journey is one we’ve traveled too many times before to make this one memorable.

3.5 sheep

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