PG | 100 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Review - Kathryn Waite
**In select theaters November 25th 2015**
Synopsis: An epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.
Review: Thinking back to 1995, I remember being in the first grade. That year was full of learning the basics of phonics, putting Scrunchies in my hair, and the start of the reign of Pixar. As clearly as that day, I can recall sitting in the theater with my parents and siblings as the lights went low and the Toy Story title screen sprang up. During that hour and a half film, my young mind was swept to a world of wonder and excitement, “do my toys do that?” popped into my brain multiple times. It was enchanting to see. From that film forward, Pixar has captured the imagination and spirit of children through their past 15 films. While some of their works are stronger than others, the production company’s overall ability to create a landscape of beauty and relevance cannot be ignored. Their latest release, The Good Dinosaur, is no different. As their “Sweet 16” picture it is easy to see that while their animation abilities have grown leaps and bounds, Pixar’s ability to capture to capture the hearts and minds of children has not changed at all; and I do not want it to.
The story follows a young Apatosaurus named Arlo who is trying to find his place not just in the world, but also with his family. From Mama and Poppa to Big brother and Little sister, each member of Arlo’s clan brings a unique characteristic that helps the family farm thrive. Too weak, too fearful, and too pessimistic Arlo cannot find his place no matter what he tries. Tragedy strikes the family and young Arlo is separated from his home. He must overcome his fears and learn to trust others (including a feral cave-boy named Spot) in order to make it back to where he belongs.
From a storyline standpoint, The Good Dinosaur does not bring a completely new story to screen. The film has a feel of a child-like version of Home’s “Odyssey” at some points with splashes of Homeward Bound as well. That said, Pixar brings such emotional depth and poignancy to such an over-told story. The movie has a less than average amount of dialogue, but the most tear-jerking scenes happen when no words are spoken at all. The film creates such a heartwarming tale of learning to overcome fear that the storyline’s staleness can be forgiven many times over.
The true star of the movie is the landscape. While Nature can be seen as the main antagonist due to its unforgiving changes, there were many moments where the scenery was so breathtaking that I genuinely thought it was real. It is an incredible testament to the amount of pioneering and dedication that Pixar puts into each and every movie. Comparing the animation complexity of Toy Story to this wouldn’t even be a fair fight. The moments where the fireflies come out at night are gorgeous. While nature can be so cruel it can also become a beautiful memory when it is calm.
The film is rated PG for peril, action, and thematic elements. There are a few scenes with a lot of thunder and lighting, so make sure your child is okay with loud noises and some mild flashing lights on the screen. The humor level throughout the film can be enjoyed by all ages. Pixar did a delightful job of putting in jokes for adults that didn’t have to stoop to dirty humor. This is definitely a family film and will be enjoyed by all ages.
I give The Good Dinosaur four and a half out of five dinosaur footprints. If this 16th film from Pixar is any indication of where they could be in another twenty years with their storytelling, then they will continue to have a loyal fan through me and I hope a child will see this movie and begin their love for storytelling.