So, on the same day I watched In the Heart of the Sea, I also went in for The Good Dinosaur. And I was absolutely stunned by both the movies. Today I will be writing about The Good Dinosaur. Ever since I started hearing buzz about the movie, I was hearing many great things. And now after watching the film, I feel, not one word was false.
I have heard from some people that, The Good Dinosaur will be a much simpler movie, as Pixar raised the bars too high with Inside Out. But I did not have this feeling for a single moment. The movie is heartfelt and endearing, and an adventure that younger audiences will particularly enjoy. Any animated movie worth its salt usually has something hallucinogenic about it. More often than not, Pixar has honoured that tradition, whether with the day-glo head trips of Inside Out or the ooo-ing aliens of Toy Story who, trapped all their lives in a grabber game, worship The Claw that might set them free.
The Good Dinosaur is set in an alternate reality, where the comet thought to have destroyed the dinosaurs, missed Earth. So in this alternate universe, dinosaurs still exist, and are in fact more evolved than humans. The film deals with Arlo, a timid Apatosaurus (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) growing up on a corn farm with his parents and two spunkier siblings. An attempt on his father’s part to make the little fella overcome his fears goes horribly wrong, and Arlo is washed away from his family in a flood with only a grunting dog-like cave-boy for company. As he prepares to head back home, Arlo bonds with his human pet whom he names Spot, and together they encounter ferocious storms, predatory beasts, and a clan of bison-herding T-rexes along the way.
There’s a googly-eyed Styracosaurus with small animals living on his horns, and a pack of Pterodactyl storm-chasers addicted to the “higher elevation” of a hurricane. A clever spin on the typical ‘boy and his dog’ story, the film gives us some charming moments between Arlo and his new friend, there’s even a psychedelic sequence in which Arlo and Spot accidentally eat some bad fruit: it’s like ‘Fear and Loathing in the Mesozoic’.
Never as rich and complex as some of the studio’s best films, The Good Dinosaur stands out nevertheless for its beautiful rendering of the natural world. These renders, first thought to be impossible to render, emerged beautifully. With insistence Peter Sohn, the long-shots of the valley and the mountains, of Arlo and Spot lighting up the fireflies, Arlo chasing the storks, looks mesmerizing.
The screenplay, by Meg LeFauve, is from a story conceived by Bob Peterson (who was replaced as director by Sohn, a Pixar veteran making his feature debut), and is set in a parallel universe to ours.
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Peter Sohn’s The Good Dinosaur. It may not have much in common with the Pixar films that came before it, but the family resemblance is there wherever it counts. The Good Dinosaur is by far Pixar’s animation at its most beautiful.
P.S. Make sure you reach the theatre on time so you don’t miss the terrific animated short Sanjay’s Super Team, based on a “mostly true story” about how a little Indian boy came to discover and love the Hindu superhero gods that his father worshipped.