Film Review: The Good Dinosaur

In association with the Grosvenor

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The Good Dinosaur arrived without the ruckus and hype that usually comes with a new Pixar release, probably because it’s been one of their more kid-oriented offerings. It’s a perfectly fine kid’s movie, but don’t go in expecting the standard Pixar universal appeal.

Taking place in a world where the dinosaurs were never wiped out, the story follows Arlo, the runt of the litter in a family of apatosauruses who have somehow developed agriculture to grow corn, and Arlo’s endeavour to overcome his fear of nearly everything in order to “make his mark” and do something greater than himself. It’s nothing special plot-wise, and pretty predictable at all points. Again, we must remember this is for children, but there were really no surprises. Anyone even slightly familiar with the Disney Pixar oeuvre will be able to call the twists.

Unremarkable plot aside, the film does have some strengths. For one, it’s beautiful. Pixar’s animation expertise really shows here. There’s a distinct aesthetic contrast between the impressive photorealistic renderings of nature and the cute cartoony dinosaurs, but it’s not a jarring one.

But despite a few laugh-out-loud moments and one very odd and very trippy scene after two characters eat fermented peaches, the script is still fairly bland. The soundtrack, too, is what you’d expect: vast and well-orchestrated but without any real standout tracks.

Perhaps another reason why The Good Dinosaur hasn’t been making big waves over here in the UK is that it’s another Pixar film that romanticises archetypal Americana, in a similar vein to Cars. Despite being set in prehistoric times a lot of the initial scene-setting is the dinosaurs ploughing their field, sowing seeds and harvesting corn, and pretty much everyone speaks like Johnny Cash. A cynic might suggest that the film’s mediocrity is due to a lazy appeal to American antiquity which didn’t inspire the film-makers to do anything really thoughtful or exciting.

For Pixar fans, The Good Dinosaur is likely to be a disappointment. It’s obvious a lot of work went into it, but overall the jokes are infrequent and the story just isn’t memorable. If you’re going with a younger sibling, though, you will have a perfectly pleasant time.

[Jimmy Donaghy]

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