Hot Take: When you’ve set the bar as high as Pixar has, it’s easy to be unfairly critical of an average effort such as The Good Dinosaur. It’s total kid’s fare (except for the whole uncomfortable death that seems to happen in every third Disney movie) and the animation may be the best the studio has ever produced but it’s lacking something. Kids will love it, though.
Two things I expect from every Pixar movie I see: (1) to be amazed by how well they manage to satisfy both the kids audience and adults along for the ride and (2) to be emotionally distraught at some point during the film. Unfortunately, The Good Dinosaur missed the boat on the first expectation and managed to only scrape the surface with the second one. That’s not to say it’s not something the kids will love (they will) but it’s a kids movie, through and through.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Animation is Spectacular
I’m not sure Pixar has ever done anything this visually stunning before. Every scene is full with gorgeous detail and while I found myself totally disinterested in the plot at times, I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful backdrops.
- Some Recognizable, Smart Casting
Sam Elliott and Steve Zahn provide their voice talents here and their voices fit like a glove. Elliott’s voice is made for voiceover work.
- Conceptually, It Provides an Interesting “What If?”
For the first half hour or so, the “What if dinosaurs ruled the Earth?” question is kind of interesting… as long as you don’t think too much about it.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Doesn’t This Seem a Little… Familiar?
We’ve seen this father/son relationship before in a previous Disney movie and it was much better when Poppa & Arlo were Mufasa & Simba. There are some other shameless pulls from The Jungle Book and Ice Age but The Lion King similarities are too obvious to ignore.
- The Problem With “What If?” Stories
So, dinosaurs were around for 135 million years. Then, a meteor misses Earth and they inexplicably take on the human trajectory in life by becoming farmers? And where are all the dinosaurs? Why would they take on the human career paths but not the human problem of overcrowding?
- Even the Opening Short Film Was Disappointing
Usually, the short at the beginning of the Pixar films are very entertaining. This one missed the mark.