‘The Good Dinosaur’ may not be up to ‘Inside Out’ levels of greatness, but it’s still a fun film for the family. It’s a beautiful looking film that tries to give us a turn on the traditional, but mostly just plays like a good copy of other movies. That turn is the idea of a story about a boy and his pet bonding on a journey. The twist is that the boy is a dinosaur and the pet is a child caveman. It’s a dynamic that is played for several magical scenes.
Overall, the movie plays like a cross between ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Milo & Otis’. ‘The Lion King’ stuff mostly plays out in the early scenes with the lead character, Arlo, screwing up things and learning from his wise father. There is even a wonderful scene involving fireflies that reminded me of stars being old kings in the sky scene.
The real problem is that Arlo is like Simba in only the annoying ways at first. He is constantly screwing up to the point it feels like over kill. Which is why he also reminds me of the Milo the cat in ‘Milo & Otis’. Luckily, once we get on the road trip Arlo becomes a stronger and more sympathetic character. By the end of the film, I believe most of the audience will be won over by him.
The journey is where the movie is most like ‘Milo & Otis’. The way they lose home is by getting dragged down the river and then the two of them are forced to work together to find their way home. It’s in their building a relationship that the movie works best. I especially like a scene where they near silently express the lose of family. It’s quite emotional.
Along the way, they run into a group of dinosaurs that are cow herders. The lead of that group is played by Sam Elliott and the whole section is like a dinosaur western. It’s quite clever and tremendously entertaining. I especially enjoyed a camp fire sequence where everyone talks about their scars. It’s hilarious in the way it uses dinosaurs in situations they would find themselves in had they evolved like men.
So, despite my reservations, this really is a beautiful looking and fun filled film. It may not reach for the sky like other Pixar films, but it delivers the next best thing. I’m sure that family audiences will not be disappointed and will be enjoying this movie for years to come.