“The Good Dinosaur” may have the same heartfelt emotion as so many other Pixar films, but isn’t quite as strong as some others in the studios’ lineup.
“The Good Dinosaur” imagines a world where the dinosaurs weren’t wiped out by a giant asteroid, but rather continue to live and add their marks to the world. This is where we meet little Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), who lives with his family before a series of mistakes separates him from his family and he becomes lost.
Out in the big, wide world all alone, Arlo must learn to face his fears. Along the way, he befriends the most unlikely of creatures: a human boy.
The initial story doesn’t sound that much different than “Land Before Time,” or even the dinosaur version of “Finding Nemo,” but the end product feels much different. It’s part “The Lion King” with some “Ice Age” thrown in, a dash of “Brother Bear” and a smidge of “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” all mixed together to create an end product that at times feels familiar, but doesn’t fail to entertain.
It helps that Arlo and his little “critter” are two of the cutest additions to the Pixar universe. Arlo’s fear and inexperience make him both endearing and relatable, despite the fact he’s a dinosaur. The boy’s animal-like behavior creates more than enough laughs and his dirty, unkempt look make him adorable. And both have the benefit of having large, full eyes that are not only cute and expressive, but where the emotion of their characters emanates.
“The Good Dinosaur” also profits from a strong vocal cast. Finding actors and actresses who can convincingly voice a megaton Apatosaurus or T-Rex and make you believe the voice belongs is a tough job, but Pixar pulls it off thanks to talents like Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand and Sam Elliot, who voice their characters and make you believe in them. Ochoa also gives a strong performance as the timid, sometimes voice-cracking Arlo, proving that animation only does so much to give characters the emotion they so desperately need.
And true to Pixar fashion, the movie hits just about every emotion there is. I don’t think Pixar is capable of producing a film that doesn’t leave its audience in tears.
As always, Pixar also sets a new bar in the world of animation. There are times where it’s hard to believe that what you’re seeing is computer-made. In one scene, Arlo stands up from a river and the way the water drips off his scaly skin somehow looks real.
“The Good Dinosaur” will certainly entertain younger audiences, but older audiences should also be able to find some enjoyment as well, perhaps for different reasons. “The Good Dinosaur” also has some valuable lessons on fear, family and love that should resonate with all ages, and therein lies the true heart of film. The themes pull gently on the heartstrings, leaving you with a smile on your face — and if you’re like me, a tear in your eye.