A dinosaur named Arlo is a gigantic pansy and is afraid of everything, but when he gets swept away from home in a flood, he has to suck it up and get back to his family with the help of a wild human boy named Spot which is funny because Spot isn’t a people name, I guess.
The Good Dinosaur is a remarkably unremarkable movie from the usually great studio that is Pixar. Obviously following in the footsteps of the Cars movies, movies that were terrible but sold load of toys, the studio is playing off of kids’ love for dinosaurs and what they hope will be mega toy sales to follow.
Quite honestly, they’re better than this.
It’s frustrating because, honestly, The Good Dinosaur seems content to be just good enough to not be bad. The story is simple, the characters are bland and inoffensive, and the ideas and concepts are low level. This is the kind of stuff that a 1st grader could digest easily at face value and boils down to: Character is scared of life. Stuff happens. Character isn’t scared anymore.
Keep in mind that last year, Pixar was hitting us with a high concept psychological story of personified emotions, so rich in meaning and so well put together that it’s being studied in some circles to help people understand depression. The Good Dinosaur, however, has none of that… it’s all face value. The emotional manipulation that it plays is obvious and shallow and aimed straight for the kids, bypassing the parents and older set all together and giving them the middle finger as it wizzes by.
Even the design of the characters in this movie is weird. While the backgrounds are almost photo-realistic, the dinosaurs themselves look like those cheap plastic lead-contaminated toys you get from the dollar store creating a very strange contrast that never works for the movie. You’ve got an amazingly animated world crafted with love and care and, into it, are sprinkled the cheapest-looking most cartoony characters that Pixar has ever farted out.
All of this being said, The Good Dinosaur isn’t a bad movie… it just doesn’t try very hard to be anything more than acceptable entertainment. I didn’t feel like the movie received the care that other Pixar releases do and, for the majority of the run, I was bored stiff. The one scene in the movie that I actually laughed at was the little wild boy trying to take a poop in private. That’s the level this movie is content to remain at.
Kids will probably love it, but I’m not a kid. I’m a cynical fat adult who doesn’t want to by an Arlo doll… I demand more from a studio that is more than capable of delivering it.