The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Synopsis: Timid and meek dinosaur, Arlo gets lost in the wilderness and has to find home. Along the way he befriends a feral human named Spot and both prove their courage throughout the journey.
Would you be able to sit through it?: Tough call. I loved the animation and design of the film. Debatably it could be the most beautiful Pixar movie to date. There’s scenery that not only looks gorgeous but looks 100% real. However, this story is a tough watch. Easily the most depressing, frightening and mature-themed Pixar movie as well. This is not for real young kids, although most of the tough to understand parts will go over their heads anyway but I would also like to point out that this movie is not wall-to-wall dinosaurs either. Arlo only encounters like maybe 4 different species of dinosaurs so if I was 10-years-old and a dinophile, I may have been let-down in that arena. But besides worrying if my kids will have a few life-altering questions after the movie, I was terribly bored with Arlo’s odyssey back home.
Any scary/violent parts?: This is the most frightening Pixar movie so far. Without giving too much away, [POSSIBLE SPOILERS] Arlo’s dad dies within 15 minutes of the film and Arlo constantly blames Spot for his loss. There’s scenes where Arlo is fighting pterodactyls who want to eat Spot; scary velociraptors who want to steal cattle from T-Rex ranchers and a Styracosaurus who whispers the word: Murderer in a spooky way. There’s also a few scenes where Arlo and Spot have to defend themselves from flash floods and tough terrain. For a Disney/Pixar movie this is one rough one for the kiddies.
Anything that will screw up your kid’s head?: They will certainly learn about death, vicious blood-thirsty gangs who want to kill, guilt over a the death of a loved-one and the call of the wild. Not something the really young should have to watch in cartoon form unless you want them to learn early on about how shitty and hard life and nature can be. OH! And I nearly forgot about the scene where Spot and Arlo eat some psychedelic berries and have a short freaky hallucination acid trip. Turn on, tune in, drop out with Arlo kids!
Any lessons to be learned?: Learn to master your fear and how to cope with it. Friendship and family are keys to a good life. If the asteroid 65 million years ago didn’t hit Earth, then dinosaurs will evolve into farmers and ranchers supposedly. Don’t eat psychedelic berries.
Recommended age: 10–12. I took my 6 and 3-year olds and the 3-year-old was mostly bored. My 6YO liked the movie but I’m sure she has a ton of hard questions.
3D?: Since the animation and cinematography is top-notch, it might be a decent 3D experience. But I saw it in 2D because 3D mostly sucks.
Rent it, buy it or avoid it?: Rent. I really didn’t like this Pixar feature. I didn’t much care for whiny Arlo and any other character. It was mostly a paint by the numbers return home odyssey and it really lacked the typical Disney/Pixar humor. Seriously, I laughed maybe three times. It’s a bit too mature for the little kids with the theme of death. I know that it’s an important theme for kids to learn and that earlier movies from when I was a kid tackled these themes and I turned out (mostly) fine and I should commend this film for being brave enough to bring these themes up but as a parent I should point this out to other parents that this is not your typical Pixar movie.
Another thing that I’d like to point out is how out of place the Apatosaurus’ family was designed. Arlo and his family look very boxy and, in my opinion, too cartoony compared to the rest of the animated dinos and critters. Their eyes are too close together and their heads are mostly right angles. It’s odd to see them in comparison to Spot and the other characters who are not designed by a 5-year-old. I felt like I was watching “Danny and the Dinosaur” in animated form.
Score: 5 Watching a Neanderthal Kid Take a Piss scenes (out of 10)
My 6-year-old’s quote: “I almost cried at the end!”
Preceding Short: Holy shitballs was this short out of left-field! It was called Sanjay’s Super Team and it was about an Indian boy who loves superheroes who is in contrast with his pious father who wants to pray to the Hindu gods. Sanjay is forced to stop watching his trio of superheroes TV show and instead join his father in prayer and meditation. But the young son instead fantasizes about the trio of superheroes who then change into the three gods of Hinduism, Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman who fight off an evil Hindu spirit, Ravana. Somehow, the son realizes that his father’s gods are more important and worthwhile than his lame superheroes and they bond over the experience. As a secularist who wants to raise his family secularist, this short was a bit heavy for me to take and was hoping that not too many questions arose over what the father and son were doing. Don’t get me wrong, I respect (almost) each and every religion and want my kids to learn about every religion despite being raised secularists but this was too much, too soon. I do commend Pixar for making such a bold religious cartoon but again, wow, this was very unexpected. I also think this was one odd short selection before a kids’ cartoon movie. It’s akin to some kid fantasizing that Jesus H. Christ was a superhero and battled the devil. No one would green light that at all. Yet, Pixar and Disney find it alright to make Vishnu a super hero. This just seems very wrong to me.
All in all, a very hard time at the movies with the kids this weekend.