"The Good Dinosaur" stars Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliott, and Steve Zahn. Released on November 25, 2015, the film is about a young dinosaur who must find his way back home with the help of a young human cave boy.
The film is directed by Peter Sohn, who serves as an animator, voice actor, and storyboard artist, and it is the 16th animated film to be released by Pixar Animation Studios. This year marks the first time Pixar has released two films in a single year with the first film being Inside Out. Pixar is fresh off the heels of one of my favorite films of 2015, Inside Out, so for their next film, they decided to take audiences on a journey to an alternate Earth where dinosaurs still roamed the land. This film suffered from a lot of production problems, including the story, when it was first announced in 2009. Despite those issues, does this film mark another win for Pixar?
The cast delivered some good voice work to the characters, including Ochoa as Arlo, a young Apatosaurus who's pretty much afraid of everything. Along the journey he forms an unlikely friendship with a young cave boy named Spot, voiced by Jack Bright. What's interesting about this duo is their roles. There have been several films where a boy develops a friendship with a dog or any other creature or pet. For this film, however, Arlo the dinosaur plays the role of the boy while Spot the cave boy plays the role of the dog, hence his dog-like traits such as growling and howling. One of my favorite casting choices of the film has to be Sam Elliott as Butch, the T-Rex who acts like a cowboy and runs like a galloping horse, and one of the characters that Arlo befriends. Let me just say, there's nothing more awesome than a T-Rex with the voice of a Western actor. The animation was the biggest highlight of the film. Like the other Pixar films like Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and Inside Out, the animation team managed to create a realistic world filled with depth and color. Sometimes, it didn't quite mix well with the cartoonish look of the dinosaurs, but it's still very beautiful to look at. The film shows the primary theme about fear, which is good for kids to learn when they're scared of something.
The story, however, is a mixed bag for me. Like I said, I liked the fact that they switched up the boy and dog roles for Arlo and Spot, but the film plays out like any other film involving a friendship between the boy and the dog, which could lead to some predictable moments. The emotional depth in the film was good, but not that very strong. There was one point where I got teary-eyed, but that's about it. The pacing was mostly consistent, but a bit rushed at times.
Overall, with its incredible animation, good characters, and its relatable themes, "The Good Dinosaur" is visually stunning and mostly heartwarming, making this another solid win for the Pixar team. I will admit, it's not as memorable nor as extraordinary as Inside Out in terms of story and emotional depth, but this film proves that the animation studio still has the right amount of skills to create breathtaking new worlds that relate to not only children, but to the adults who are young at heart. This is worth a recommendation to those who love animation and to the kids who love dinosaurs.