By Thomas Simpson
If it doesn’t seem that long since Pixar released a film, it’s because it wasn’t. Despite releasing Inside Out this past summer, the animation company has brought out The Good Dinosaur, marking the first time in their history that they’ve released two films in the same year. While Inside Out was on the receiving end of a lot of love, it puts a, perhaps unfair, pressure on The Good Dinosaur.
Director Peter Yohn along with screenwriter Meg LeFauve reimagine history to present a world where the meteorite that wipes out the dinosaurs instead narrowly misses Earth. This gives the ancient reptiles the chance to evolve, turning an Apatosaurus family into farmers. The runt, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), is very timid and struggles to keep up with his chores. When he finds himself lost in the wilderness, he begrudgingly befriends a small cave boy who he nicknames Spot.
The duo strike up an unlikely friendship and although the chemistry hits all the right notes, the relationship plays out predictably with nothing special in the script to make it distinct from other efforts. The idea of making a dinosaur the intelligent evolved being while the human is fierce and feral puts a nice spin on it but neither characters are developed enough to make them memorable.
Although Pixar are known for injecting some adult themes into their films, The Good Dinosaur more than deserves its PG rating. There is nothing overly graphic on display however there’s more than one perilous moment that stretches what level of savagery is acceptable in a kids film. No one should be surprised to see dinosaurs eating other creatures yet there’s something brutal about seeing a cartoon critter devoured by a vicious pterodactyl.
There is a western theme underlying throughout which is highlighted by the arrival of Sam Elliott’s T-Rex and his family of cattle rustlers. No stranger to portraying a cowboy, Elliott’s instantly recognizable voice helps bring a legitimacy to the subtext. With the raptors playing the bad guys, The Good Dinosaur borrows on audiences familiarity with Jurassic Park providing an exciting set piece just as the pace was lagging.
The Good Dinosaur may be a poor follow up to Inside Out, but it’s a decent film. The cave boy is adorable and the animation is as stunning as its ever been. It’ll tug on your heart strings like only Pixar knows how but there isn’t any lasting connection. An average entry to an impressive resume.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy 41.