Movie Review: The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur is Pixar's newest, and it's unfortunately got a hard act to follow: last year's Pixar film was Inside Out, which ended up being a smash hit. The Good Dinosaur ended up being a sweet movie, if a little "all over the place" plot-wise, but it's one that I still recommend seeing.

The movie starts with the premise that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago never hit Earth, and instead passed it by. Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is the smallest dinosaur in his family - his two siblings, Buck (Marcus Scribner) and Libby (Maleah Nipay-Padilla), are stronger than him and can help out more around the farm. A big theme in his family is "making [your] mark," which means you get to put your footprint on the silo where they keep their food for the winter, once you do something helpful or useful. Libby and Buck have already made their marks, but Arlo is still struggling. One day, his Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) assigns him to a new job: keep an eye out for whatever critter is stealing their food, and kill it when he finds him. Arlo is game for the task, but soon finds that its a young human caveboy (Jack Bright) who is the thief, and he can't bring himself to hurt him; his Poppa is angry that he didn't complete the job, and Arlo and Poppa go to find the human, only to have an accident occur, and Arlo is devastated.

Later on, Arlo sees the human again and goes to chase after him; he eventually finds himself lost, and he and the human, whom he later names Spot, have to somehow find their way home before his Momma (Frances McDormand) and his siblings starve during the winter.

If that synopsis sounds a little bleak, it's because The Good Dinosaur doesn't shy away from violence; I found it to be a bit violent for younger children, although the scenery in the film is fantastic. I saw it in 3D and the 3D is worth paying for if you can swing it - it's the kind of "in your face" 3D that I enjoy, and it only strengthens my argument that 3D is really best to see in animated movies. You'll recognize some of the voice cast (Wright, McDormand, Anna Paquin, John Ratzenberger) but others are more unknown, and they all do a great job with their characters, most of which are animals that can talk.

Yes, see this movie. The relationship between Arlo and Spot, the human caveboy, is adorable, and Spot is very protective of Arlo. Bring the Kleenex here, as well, because some of the scenes are cry-worthy, and you might find yourself tearing up during them. I'll admit that The Good Dinosaur is a bit uneven, plot-wise - if it wasn't in 3D, I'd say it's a movie you could rent at home once it comes out - but as most Pixar movies are, it has some good messages throughout for kids, and it has some funny one-liners and references for the adults too.

The Good Dinosaur is in theaters today, November 25th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 100 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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