The Good Dinosaur
Director: Peter Sohn
Writer: Meg LeFauve
Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Steve Zahn, Peter Sohn, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley
Seen on: 16.12.2015
Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is the youngest member of his dinosaur family, and he is not only small, but scared of everything. While his siblings handle their chores and rites of passage with apparent ease, Arlo still has problems feeding the chicken. So his father Henry (Jeffrey Wright) gives him a special task: catch a critter that has been raiding their silo. Arlo actually manages to catch the little human (Jack Bright), but can’t go through with killing him. When the boy runs off after being freed, Henry and Arlo chase after him. They get trapped in a thunderstorm which leads to a flash flood and Henry drowns. Riddled with guilt, Arlo finds himself washed ashore a long way from home and somehow has to find his way back.
The Good Dinosaur is a weird film. The main plot and characters are nowhere near the high standards that we usually get from Pixar movies. But everything happening on the sidelines is frankly amazing.
I can understand that The Good Dinosaur wasn’t exactly a big success. Most children will probably be confused by the odd details to the story, most adults will feel that the tropey story is off-putting. Haven’t seen parts of this in The Lion King already? Where are all the female characters? What is that weird ending?
I certainly felt all those questions niggling at me. At least when I wasn’t busy with all that is going on in the film apart from the main story. I mean, even after you accept the central concept that dinosaur culture that is pretty much identical to human agriculture from 200 years ago or so, despite the fact that it is completely unsuitable for dinosaurs, the film just keeps throwing oddities at you.
There are thrill-seeking cultish pterodactyls; Forrest Woodbush, a styracosaurus with various protectors perching on his headplate (most importantly: Dreamcrusher, who protects him from having too high expectations); an expressionistic drug sequence; and my personal favorite: cowboy T-Rexes herding bisons and telling stories about how tough they are. The way they move alone is worth the entire price of admission in my book.
For me all those weird an unconnected sideplots made the film. Even if at the end of it, the weakness of the main story outweighs the charm of the supporting characters for you, I think it’s still worth checking out. As a bonus, you even get feathered raptors for your troubles.
Summarizing: an unusual, uneven film that is definitely worth it.