The Good Dinosaur: Little House on the Pleistocene

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Good Dinosaur BD

THE GOOD DINOSAUR asks the question: What if the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs missed? Well, apparently the answer is that the dinosaurs would have learned how to talk, build houses, plow fields, and raise giant chickens, all without the benefit of any evolutionary advances like opposable thumbs.

Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is the titular dinosaur, the runt of his nest. But his family loves him nonetheless, despite his overwhelming fear of the giant chickens. (I know they're something else, but I'm not a paleontologist, and they are treated like giant chickens so I'm calling them giant chickens.) But until Arlo can pull his weight on the farm, he can't make his mark on the grain silo his father built. So his Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) gives Arlo a special mission -- put an end to the "critter" who is stealing corn from their silo.

The "critter" turns out to be a young human boy, who gets away from Arlo's watchful eye. So Poppa decides it's time for tough love, and drags Arlo along with him to ultimately end this "critter." But the elements turn against them, putting Arlo in a position to see his father die.

Hey, it was a Disney film with two living parents in it. You knew that couldn't last.

Fueled by anger, Arlo goes after the critter, blaming it for his father's death. But when they both get swept away, the two of them have to learn to rely on each other, with the critter -- which answers to the name Spot -- becoming a loyal best friend to Arlo.

The scenery of THE GOOD DINOSAUR is outstanding. It's well past the level where you can forget you're watching a computer animated film. Most of the dinosaurs are gorgeously detailed, although the main character of Arlo appears a bit cartoonish even when grouped with the rest of his family. The setting of the North American west (one of the previews from the disc is for a dinosaur fossil dig in Wyoming, which is where we can reasonably assume this story takes place) lends toward a storytelling style that involves Native American-like folklore and cowboy T-Rex cattle drivers -- which is a relatable environment for young viewers to enjoy a "coming of age" story, as Arlo learns to face his deepest fears to become the dinosaur he needs to be to ultimately save Spot and return to his family.

Bonuses on the Blu-ray disc include a short cartoon, "Sanjay's Super Team," and a promotional clip of Arlo and Spot playing Hide and Seek:

Additionally, there's an educational documentary, "True Lies About Dinosaurs," which fills viewers in on the difference between the dinosaurs in the cartoon and the real ones. (Like, how they didn't co-exist with humans for starters.) Myself, I found myself more distracted by how this film was going to fit into the fan-based theory of a unified Pixar universe. Although I suppose there's nothing that says that something couldn't have taken out the dinosaurs at a later time -- and perhaps Arlo was so well remembered that he made his mark thoughout all time, as the logo for Dinoco.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR is somewhat predictable, somewhat sad, somewhat scary -- and somewhat lacking in the Pixar magic. And yet, even so it's still a very enjoyable and fulfilling film for young and old.

4.0 / 5.0