Parents at the multiplex who are looking for a movie the whole family will like probably can’t do better than The Good Dinosaur—especially given the other films opening on Thanksgiving weekend (The Danish Girl; Creed; Janis: Little Girl Blue; Victor Frankenstein) and those already playing in theaters (The Hunger Games, The Night Before, Love the Coopers, Goosebumps).
But they’ll mostly be settling. Compared to other Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur is not particularly clever in its storytelling, nor does it pack as powerful an emotional punch.
The “good dinosaur” of the title is Arlo, the youngest of three sibling dinosaurs. From the moment he is hatched, Arlo is a fearful little guy. At first Momma and Poppa (even the names are generic) think his egg is empty. Only after they tip it over and peer inside do they spot the undersized runt of the family, pressing vainly against the bottom of the shell to avoid entering the world.
Poppa is confident that Arlo just needs a little more time to “make his mark”—but clearly, he finds his son’s cowardice consternating. In a last effort, Poppa sets up a rope trap to catch a critter. All Arlo needs to do to prove his manhood is kill whatever creature is caught in the trap. That ends up being Spot, a human(ish) boy whom Arlo pities enough that cuts him loose, rather than beating his brains in.
Now the thematic stakes are set. Arlo gets separated from his family by a storm. He meets up with Spot and they form a sort of family of their own in an effort to find and return to their real families. The ensuing journey riffs on Monsters, Inc. (big scary monster scared of tiny human child) and Disney’s The Lion King (male child ...1
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The Good Dinosaur
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