Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Good Dinosaur (**)

Directed by Peter Sohn


The Good Dinosaur feels like such an odd child within the rest of the Pixar films. It seems like their most outright for children since 2003's Finding Nemo, and yet, it feels particularly dark, tackling aspects of mortality and existentialism unlike any other film Disney has to offer. It's take on the dinosaur movie feels a bit off. In the universe of The Good Dinosaur, a family of Apatosaurus are akin to Middle American farmers, seemingly with the intelligence not only to speak but to till the land and harvest corn. When Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), the youngest of the family, is struggling to make his mark within the meritocracy of the family, he leaves the family farm in search of the young feral boy (whom he later names Spot) who has been stealing the family's crops. Why Spot, as well as all other humans in the film, act like dogs is never truly explained, nor why the dinosaur universe is set in an aesthetic of rustic farmland. What does Americana add to this tale? I pondered this often throughout. Arlo's journey off of the farm leads him into great peril, including bloodthirsty pterodactyls, cattle ranching T-Rex's and dangerously inclement weather. With the help of the surprisingly resourceful Spot, Arlo manages his way through the hurdles, hoping to find his way back to the family farm. There's something a bit low-stakes about The Good Dinosaur; the screenwriting isn't as solid as we're used to with the famed studio. A lot of the plot points are borrowed from the Disney classic The Lion King, which is fine, but there isn't enough separation for Dinosaur to feel like its own film. There is some good voice acting (particularly Steve Zahn, Jeffrey Wright and Sam Elliot), and some astonishing animation, but this is one of the weaker films in the Pixar canon. The film is preceded by a great short called Sanjay's Super Team, which in less than ten minutes manages to present the kind of hearty feeling that The Good Dinosaur struggles to reach in its 100 minutes. There are times when Dinosaur's sentimentality does connect with its audience, but there's little more that the film has going for it.

No comments: