Considering that the last two animated Disney movies (that I know of) that are about dinosaurs were The Land Before Time (an absolute classic) and Dinosaur (a clichéd, but well-CG’d pile of garbage), the odds are completely 50/50 on whether or not The Good Dinosaur will be, well, good. The result: at least it looks nice? The Good Dinosaur is directed by Peter Sohn (the voice of Emile from Ratatouille) and written by: Peter Sohn, Erik Benson, Meg LaFauve, Kelsey Mann, and Bob Peterson. Stars-Jeffery Wright, Frances McDormand, Jack McGraw, and Steve Zahn. Premise-A young, incompetent Apatosaurus named Arlo gets lost in the vast earth where he meets an unlikely human friend. Now the both of them must traverse the wilderness to find Arlo’s home once more while avoiding enemies and making friends along the way.
While this movie was not a waste of time, it is certainly one of the weaker Pixar films. This may be mostly due to how annoyingly predictable it is! Seriously, almost every Disney and Pixar trope can be found in this movie! Parent(s) dying early in the movie (let’s face it, you saw that one coming), the main characters who initially don’t get along going on a quest, scenes that try way too hard to make you cry, and a moral which involves family. I walked into this movie having no idea what the premise was beyond what the teaser trailer showcased, and I still could tell what was going to happen in the next scene. Of course, both Disney and Pixar have used these clichés (and even defied them in great films like Inside Out) and changed them up to create entirely new and memorable stories time and time again. Does The Good Dinosaur do that? Not really. If anything, this movie is Finding Nemo but with dinosaurs, and obviously not as great. Not to say that it doesn’t have its moments. The landscape and background designs are beautiful, the animation as a whole is decent, some hilarious jokes, the human kid is awesome (he wrestles a snake-lizard in one scene!), the last 10 minutes are very powerful (hardly any dialog is used), and many of the side characters are entertaining mostly because of the awesomely talented voices of Sam Elliot, Steve Zahn, and Peter Sohn.
Even though this movie has those few shining moments, it still suffers from a poorly executed story. There are at least two instances of incredibly noticeable Dues Ex Machina, the pacing (particularly in the first act) is unsteady, and some of the gags are overused and predictable. Despite all the aforementioned aspects, I found the worst part of this movie to be the tone. Awkward scenes follow depressing scenes and those scenes follow goofy scenes! Parts of the movie feel like the Lord of the Rings, while others feel like, spaghetti westerns. What? I don’t know why this movie is trying to blend 10 different genres into 100 minutes, but let me tell you, it really doesn’t work! Also, during the western part of the movie we get, and I kid you not, “redneck velociraptor cattle rustlers!” Yes, they have the stereotypical southern accents to boot. I don’t know why stereotypes existed in the prehistoric times, but I think it is necessary to mention.
While The Good Dinosaur serves as an hour and 40 minute distraction, there is little in terms of original or emotional depth. Still, it does have its decent humor and beautiful animation to keep it far from average (aka Home). The Good Dinosaur gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B-.