Families come in all forms. And one of the biggest fears as we head to Thanksgiving gatherings is confronting the family.
The visually stunning The Good Dinosaur introduces us to a world where dinosaurs are not extinct. In fact, they are the advanced beings on Earth. The animated setting, inspired by the American Northwest, captures such detail in the opening sequence that your eyes blink in disbelief under the 3D glasses. Every leaf is luminescent, the mountains are majestic and the river runs clear and crisp. Are these photographs? No, it’s pure artistry.
To achieve the wide-open look in ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ filmmakers utilized height field data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The story revolves around a dinosaur named Arlo (voice of Raymond Ochoa), who is skittish and anxious from the moment he is hatched. As the runt of the family, Arlo has a hard time keeping up with his siblings. He wants to please his loving Momma (voice of Frances McDormand) and wants to impress his wise Poppa (voice of Jeffrey Wright).
As an evolved Apatosaurus family, the herbivores are naturally farmers. Their survival relies on the food they’ve grown, harvested and stored for the winter. In this environment, Arlo is timid and terrorized by nearly anything that moves. It’s only when he’s thrust into the wilderness that Arlo must confront his fears.
In his adventure, he befriends a human “critter” named Spot (voice of Jack Bright) who is the exact opposite of Arlo — bold and brave. Along the way, they encounter a bevy of Jurassic beasts including a tribe of T-Rexes, ranchers searching for their lost longhorns.
Actor Sam Elliott provides the voice of Butch, the tough T-Rex. According to animator Mike Venturini, when Butch grins, his big white teeth resemble Elliott’s signature moustache.
Together, Arlo and Spot become the universal coupling of boy (dinosaur) and dog (boy). Therein lies the flaw with the film. As we travel with Arlo and Spot, the terrain becomes too familiar. First-time director Peter Sohn paints such a precise portrait, yet the storyline feels like connect-the-dots.
Still, there are enough heart-warming moments and light-hearted humor to ensure the film makes its mark during the holidays.
Don’t miss the new short Sanjay's Super Team, which plays before The Good Dinosaur. It’s a loving sweet look into the experience of a first-generation Indian-American boy whose love for superheroes supersedes his father’s Hindu traditions.