By Christian DiMartino
I love Pixar. For the most part, it is difficult for them to do wrong. Earlier this year, they brought us Inside Out, and it’s easily one of the year’s best. So when I heard that they bringing us another movie, The Good Dinosaur, I was of course ready, even though I know that lightning can’t strike twice. Surprisingly though, The Good Dinosaur isn’t half the film that Inside Out was, and it’s among the year’s biggest letdowns.
The Good Dinosaur is such a mess, and I think I know why: this is a film that was in production hell for years. This is quite obvious from the final result, which feels as if five or so directors hopped on board and added their own strange spin to it.
Imagine if the dinosaurs WEREN’T killed by a meteor. This is where The Good Dinosaur branches off from, but yet the strange thing is, there aren’t that many dinosaurs. We see maybe 12 the entire time, but yet considering the premise is what it is, I just figured dinosaurs would be walking all around the damn place. For a species that is still kicking in this universe, they seem a bit extinct.
The story mostly focuses on a family of dinosaurs. The parents are wonderfully voiced by Frances McDormand and Jeffery Wright. They have three children. Two of them are a success. The other one, Arlo, is the weak one, but at least he tries. There is something stealing their corn. That something is… A HUMAN, and this human is something of a Tarzan figure.
Of course, because Pixar lives to make its audience depressed, tragedy strikes. But yet the attempts to bring the waterworks here aren’t very effective. There needed to be more development.
Arlo attempts to track down this human, and in the process, gets washed away from his family. The rest of the film revolves around Arlo’s journey home, and his relationship with the human.
Visually, The Good Dinosaur gets it right. Within five minutes, I was enchanted. There are times when it looks so realistic it might as well have been live action. It is also entertaining, and it has a couple of good laughs. In particular, a sequence in which Arlo and the human trip balls. Yes, you read that correctly, and believe me, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing it correctly.
I felt like someone had put something in my diet coke that I’d had earlier in the day. This is such a bizarre journey, I wasn’t sure who they were trying to please. Along the way, Arlo and the boy run into these creepy pterodacti and these inbred redneck dinosaurs. It’s all off, and offputting to an extent.
There are also a few plotholes. Sadly, I can’t discuss those here, because it would require spoilers. But if you’d like to ask, go ahead.
It also just lacks a memorable character, which is strange considering what they’ve created in the past (Woody, Buzz, Dory, Remy, etc.). Arlo doesn’t really amount to much besides screaming… a lot of screaming. It is, however, an animated film that puts Sam Elliot’s magical voice to good use.
People, it breaks my heart to knock on a Disney movie, believe me. I feel like being harsh to a film like this is like sticking a kitten in a garbage disposal. But despite the fact that it works in stretches and its visuals, The Good Dinosaur just doesn’t know what it wants to be. I admire Pixar’s efforts to bring us something different. It just isn’t a very good different. Better luck next year.