Pixar is now a household name. Be shunned if you’ve not revelled in their wondrous tales that range from charismatic, animated toys or Scottish Princesses, to small robots with enough heart to fill a galaxy or the journey through the EAC to find a missing clown fish. Their stories all tend to tie into another, fixating primarily on the love given by family or friends. It’s a universally approached topic that is accessible for the entire family.
The Good Dinosaur, following behind 2015’s other animated hit Inside Out, is a tough act to follow. Two incredibly different films under the one roof; it’s like choosing a favourite child.
The Good Dinosaur follows Arlo, a soft-spoken Apotasaurus living under the brash influence of his two siblings and his Mother and Father (voiced by Jeffrey Wright and Frances McDormand). Arlo is the smallest of the clan, clumsily sifting through life and attempting chores. When a freak storm carries him to an unknown part of the land, Arlo befriends a human child, Spot, and the both attempt to survive nature’s wackiest animals as they journey back home.
Surviving production hell, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur went through a series of rewrites and re-casting, which as most in the film-going community know is sometimes an omen. Though, really, out of all of Pixar’s features, the ratio between good and bad is implausibly favoured to the former — Cars 2 really is the only feature I can’t tolerate. Though everyone griped that attempting to surpass Inside Out, released a mere few months previous, was suicide, there’s something about an adorable dinosaur that’s too endearing to pass up.
This is subtle, simple storytelling. Some may call it unoriginal or derivative, but Pixar isn’t about creating stories to surpass storytelling approaches. These films are here to enlighten and love, and in doing so create a heartwarming tale of friendship, brimming with sentiment, fun and adventure. Cultural classes between characters provide formulaic comedic banter between the two to deliver the laughs for the young’uns, but the striking animation may just be that saving grace for everyone else. This is beautiful work, a true testament to how far animation has truly come.
There’s a definitive character difference in the design approach for The Good Dinosaur which may or may not divide audiences. Arlo, and the multitude of critters him and Spot meet on their journey, are bulkier, harsher edged than Pixar’s regular smorgasbord of delightful characters. It’s not a bad thing; it’s actually pretty refreshing.
It may be one of the studio’s lighter pieces — especially compared to Inside Out, that feat is near impossible. But you can’t deny the efforts made into how gorgeous the entire thing is. If you don’t shed a tear by the final scene, you’re really made of stone.
Dir: Peter Sohn
Scr: Meg LaFauve
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliot
Prd: Denise Ream
Music: Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna
Runtime: 93 minutes
The Good Dinosaur is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.