THE GOOD DINOSAUR (transfer) review

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These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Pixar and Disney, two animation powerhouses that rarely disappoint. That being said, I wasn’t looking at this movie and thinking to myself that it would be anything special, especially since INSIDE OUT just came a few months ago AND briefly got a re-release, that was some serious shoes to fill. The first trailer got me interested only because of Sam Elliot playing a T-Rex, which I find absolutely epic. I missed its initial release, but after watching two heavier movies, CREED and SPOTLIGHT, I needed a lighter movie to balance it out. Hence THE GOOD DINOSAUR. Is it an INSIDE OUT hit, or is it a CARS miss?

Starring: Raymond Ochoa (1 episode of MELISSA & JOEY [2010 – 2015], video game FALLOUT 4 [2015], and the upcoming GROOVE STREET [2018]) and Jack Bright (additional voice work on MONSTERS UNIVERSITY [2013])

Support: Jeffrey Wright (GAME NIGHT [2018], HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 2 [2015], and upcoming films HOLD THE DARK [2018] and THE GOLDFINCH [2019]), Frances McDormand (ISLE OF DOGS [2018], THREE BILLBOARDS [2017], and HAIL, CAESAR [2016]), Steve Zahn (LEAN ON PETE [2018], WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES [2017], CAPTAIN FANTASTIC [2016], and THE RIDICULOUS 6 [2015]), Anna Paquin (X-MEN [2000], TRUE BLOOD [2008 – 2014], and upcoming films TELL IT TO THE BEES [2018] and THE PARTING GLASS [2018]), and Sam Elliot (THE HERO [2017], GRANDMA [2015], and upcoming films A STAR IS BORN [2018] and THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS [2018])

Director: Peter Sohn (feature film debut; congrats, sir) 
Writer: Meg LeFauve (INSIDE OUT [2015], and the upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL [2019])
Composers: brothers Jeff (BILLY LYNN [2016] and STORKS [2016]) and Mychael Danna (THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS [2017], and upcoming films ON THE BASIS OF SEX [2018] and THE RED SEA DIVING RESORT [2019])
Cinematographer: Mahyar Abousaeedi (feature film debut; congrats, sir)
Editor: Stephen Schaffer (WALL·E [2008], THE INCREDIBLES [2004], and the upcoming INCREDIBLES 2 [2018])

This is my honest opinion of: THE GOOD DINOSAUR


Taking place in an alternate past where the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs miss, the story follows a young apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), born on a farm and scared of nearly everything. Desperate to gain respect and prove that he’s just as great as his parents and siblings, he accepts help from Poppa (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) to protect the family corn supply from a looting caveboy named Spot (voiced by Jack Bright). But the things go awry as Poppa and Arlo chase Spot, but a massive storm takes the life of Poppa. Encountering Spot again, Arlo chases Spot, but slips into the nearby river, gets knocked out, and wakes up far away from home. Reluctantly joined with Spot the two begin a long journey home, full of danger and desperation for survival as Arlo faces his fears and learns forgiveness.


It’s… not as bad as I was expecting. In fact, it’s good. But it is heavily flawed.

First off, the beginning is the worst part of the movie. Look, the set-up isn’t bad. It’s a “what if” idea. The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, it misses, yay for them. Now, fast-forward millions of years later, the dinosaurs have evolved… sort of. The world that the creators are spoon-feeding us is that the dinosaurs have a concept of farms and silos meant to hold their food for the winter, and use branches as weapons, and even have the capabilities of utilizing traps for smaller animals that try to steal the food in their silo… yet they can’t somehow create a garden hoe to make garden rows and instead use their heads to do that? I mean… not even their feet, but their heads? They can build farms, silos made of stones, feeding livestock, and build traps for pests, but a garden hoe is too advanced for these schmucks?

Also, why does Spot, and the other cavepeople act like dogs in this movie? I mean, seriously, are we just tossing aside PROVEN SCIENCE that our earliest ancestors were closer to PRIMATES rather than CANINES??? This is just… weird, and not in a good way and this bothers me throughout the movie.

I have a few smaller complaints, but I’m side-stepping those to make room for the biggest elephant in the room… the set up for the entire story of how Arlo and Spot get lost and the epic journey home begins. The whole incident starts with Spot stealing from their silo and Poppa wants Arlo to get rid of him. Spot runs away but Poppa and Arlo race after him to make sure he doesn’t come back via killing him. This all happens as a storm is about to hit. Well, the chase is in vain as the storm hits hard. As a massive flood rears its ugly head, Poppa saves Arlo, but Poppa is tragically washed away by the flood. The next scene is Arlo back home, the rest of the family trying to cope with the loss, but Spot makes his way back to the farm, eating their food, and Arlo attempts to carry out what he was supposed to do in the first place. But chasing Spot leads to Arlo slipping into the nearby river, he hits his head, goes unconscious, and finds himself far from home.

… Did anyone else catch that? Storm hits, dad dies, next scene, Arlo falls into river, and is lost… why did we need that scene of the family trying to cope? Couldn’t the story function just fine if both were carried away? Arlo would have still been alone, hating Spot for a little while, the story would have progressed just fine and could have ended just the same. This is a terrible case of bad writing and in a Pixar/Disney film outside of CARS, that’s not a good sign and in many ways makes for the worst writing that these creators have done. The movie’s set-up was making me think this could be one of the rare bad Disney/Pixar movies.

Thankfully, the movie picks up after that and gets… well, disturbingly violent. There’s a scene where Spot is trying to figure out what Arlo eats and offers him a huge bug. Arlo is obviously confused, and in order to demonstrate that the bug is for eating, Spot bites the bug’s… horns, I think, and tears the bug’s head off… ON SCREEN!!! Holy dear mother of fucking God, just because the movie doesn’t show blood or gore doesn’t make a scene like that any less… gory!! I mean holy God, I keep missing that scene when I walk in while working, but were there no screaming or crying kids in those auditoriums?! Jeez… should I even mention the bit where Arlo and Spot go into an acid trip after eating some bad berries? Yeah, that was some trippy stuff. Keep an eye out for it. It’s almost disturbing.

After that, the movie goes from passable to pretty enjoyable. I swear, I will remember Forrest Woodbush forever. “This is Dream Crusher. He protects me from having unrealistic goals. And this is Debbie. … … …” I’m still laughing my butt off at that. I mean, it’s an elaborate scene for the sole purpose of JUST to give Spot his name, but it’s hilarious.

But the movie isn’t without it’s heart, and this is where the movie makes it big.











With minimal dialog, we are shown that Spot had a family, represented by sticks, and buries the sticks in the sand that represented his mother and father. I didn’t expect that. The way the scene plays out is so touching and heart-breaking, I got seriously choked up. The ways this helps bond the two characters is nothing short of amazing.











Things get really good when Arlo meets up with a few T-Rex’s, Elliot voicing the biggest and coolest of them, Butch. But both Nash and Ramsey are enjoyable as well. I’m confused as to why they gallop instead of simply… run, as they clearly are shown to be capable of running, instead of bizarrely evolved to only gallop… or why they are ranchers herding buffalo-like creatures back to their home… I don’t know, it’s all pretty confusing. Still Elliot as a T-Rex, too bad-ass to care.

Now let me tell you, what truly saves this movie, at least for me, is the ending.











Arlo at this point has faced his fears, saved Spot from the cult of pterodactyls and is basically home. Earlier in the movie, we are briefly shown another human who has… I guess, been tracking Arlo and Spot. He makes an appearance again, this time with the rest of his own family, and develop a connection and attempt to adopt Spot. With no dialog, the warmth of this scene, the pain we see through both characters’ eyes as Arlo must make the choice to give Spot to his own kind… I cried. I’m coming out with it, I cried. Call me a sucker for stories like this, but I ADORE adoption stories. These people welcome Spot into their family with no questions, no arguments, just simply accepting him into their lives. And Arlo realizing that he’s losing his best friend forever, but it being for the best. Of course, Arlo goes home and reunites with his family and the movie just lets it all play out, again, making for a powerful scene.











I won’t lie, the beginning of the movie bothers me. Its writing is atrocious, but as the movie progresses, it does get better and better and ends on a fantastic emotional high note. The set-up and the sensibility of the world is an absolute mess, but once we set all that aside and get into the tale of survival and friendship, the movie is pretty good and doesn’t shy away from darker lessons like brutality and deception. Not amazing, but I’m glad I saw it. If you can stomach the beginning, which is undeniably horrible, the rest of the movie will leave you satisfied.

My honest rating for THE GOOD DINOSAUR: 3/5


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