By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Disney/Pixar has another hit family film with The Good Dinosaur, and one that should make for a fun trip to the cinema during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Written and directed by Peter Sohn, who co-wrote with Erik Benson, Meg LeFauve, Kelsey Mann, and Bob Peterson, this second 2015 release by the successful Disney division probably isn’t as inventive as its previous release, Inside Out, but that shouldn’t deter audiences from buying tickets.  This film delivers plenty of laughs, magical moments, and much heart, which makes it a film definitely worth seeing.

This movie answers the question, “What if the Earth hadn’t been hit by an asteroid and the dinosaurs remained alive in the time of humans?”  Born on a farm, an apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), his brother Buck (Marcus Scribner) and their sister Libby (Maleah Padilla), learn how to raise crops and chickens from their parents Henry (Jeffery Wright) and Ida (Frances McDormand).  Though Libby and Buck have proven themselves as strong and brave workers, Arlo often struggles to keep up with them and is also held back by his fears.  When Arlo gets lost away from home, the journey home tests his courage, wits, and strength.  However, Arlo remains undaunted in his quest to return home as he misses his family dearly.

Sohn and his crew have made a solid and entertaining film with The Good Dinosaur.  The film teaches some valuable lessons about conquering fears and never giving up, which parents will appreciate.  The movie also has some good old fashioned physical comedy and visual gags which will keep both children and adults laughing often.  As is the tradition of Disney/Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur also has jokes that only the adults will get, but will probably fly beyond the kids’ radars.

Gorgeous computer animation is also a tradition when it comes to Disney/Pixar and this movie is no exception.  I attended a 3D screening of the film which had a mix of great and mediocre 3D effects.  If I had to recommend seeing this film in one of the formats, I would have to go with the 2D version, as I feel that the “added dimension” doesn’t really add all that much to the experience in this case.

The movie features a talented cast of voice actors, especially Ochoa, Wright, and McDormand who perform wonderfully.  The film also has some excellent voice work by Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, and A.J. Buckley who star as a Tyrannosaurus family who befriend Arlo on his journey.  I also rather enjoyed Steve Zahn, Mandy Freund, and Steven Clay Hunter who portray a trio of Pterodactyls with questionable motives.

As entertaining as the film is, I still feel that something was missing from the story and plot.  The moral of the story is familiar and the journey there is somewhat predictable.  Like I previously stated, I feel that Inside Out has much more substance to offer than this film does, but I don’t want that to discourage people from seeing it theatrically.  The Good Dinosaur is a good movie, worthy of a matinee trip to the movies.


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