With The Voices Of: Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn, Jack Bright, Sam Elliot, Anna Paquin
Directed By: Peter Sohn
Somehow still better than Cars.
In what is arguably Pixar’s weakest entry since Cars or Cars 2, The Good Dinosaur makes you realize that even a mediocre Pixar effort is still somehow above average. I’m trying not to let my grade drop too far, because I’d still rather watch this than some of the other animated features I saw this year (Home), but I still feel disappointed. The Good Dinosaur tries really hard to be one of the Pixar greats, but somehow it just lacks the extra special quality that films like Up, Wall-E, and Inside Out all have. There was a moment at the end, that should have made me cry. I could tell it was the trademark Pixar tearjerker moment. But I didn’t feel it. I felt it when they manipulated me in Inside Out, Toy Story 3, Up, Wall-E, and heck, even Brave. But here, I didn’t care enough about the characters, or the relationship between Spot and Arlo. Somehow, the pieces didn’t come together. The manipulation didn’t work.
I also didn’t enjoy Sanjay’s Super Team in the way I enjoyed Lava or Feast. I didn’t feel the emotional impact there either. Am I growing up? Am I getting too old to enjoy Pixar films? I don’t think so, because I just loved Inside Out a few months ago. I think The Good Dinosaur is just a better than average kids film. And that’s OK, especially if you don’t think about it as a Pixar film.
Now, before we get too deep in the hole, I have to say how incredibly beautiful the film actually looks. It is simply stunning. There’s no other way to put it. It is absolutely amazing how incredibly realistic the grass looks, the trees, and the water. You could take a still from this film and show it to someone, and they’d think it was real. Our technology has come so far, and to see a realistic atmosphere in an animated feature blew my mind. Sure, Arlo is clearly a cartoon, but his surroundings are surprisingly gorgeous. Great job on that.
Again, I’m not sure who we’re actually making these films for anymore. When I saw Inside Out, it didn’t seem to actually entertain the kids in the audience. This one seemed to keep their attention a bit more, but man were they sad at the first character death in the film. Like, get ready to hold your children tight, because I could hear some crying five year olds behind me. They were really upset. Pixar ruined their whole day. In many ways, the death is actually a more moving moment than the end “Pixar Moment” was. I felt more at the beginning than I did at the end. For parents reading this, let’s just say that Simba and Arlo share something in common.
So, not the best effort by Pixar, but not the worst one either, and certainly not the worst animated film this year. Disappointing? Sure. But that has more to do with the incredible bar that Pixar has set for themselves, and how they can’t always raise it with each film. Coming from someone who was actually looking forward to Newt, I’m wondering how bad it had to be for The Good Dinosaur to make it to the screen, but not Newt. #BringBackNewt!
FINAL GRADE: B