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The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur

Released 27 November 2015
Director Peter Sohn

Jack Bright, AJ Buckley, Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Anna Paquin, Marcus Scribner, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn
Writer(s) Meg LeFauve
Producer(s) Denise Ream
Origin United States
Running Time 101 minutes
Genre Animation, adventure, family
Rating PG

Terrible Lizard.

I vividly remember seeing Jurassic Park in the cinema when I was eleven; I may have blamed the frigid air conditioning for the fact that I was burrowing my head into my mother’s sleeve but actually, I was terrified. Terrified but completely enthralled. Since then, I have been fascinated by those complex, fearsome and awe-inspiring creatures. This brings me to the fundamental problem I have with Pixar's The Good Dinosaur – it is completely lacking in tooth, claw and scale. Ok, I do realise that this is a kids film but come on, the sight of a snivelling dinosaur with tears rolling down its face is just plain wrong!

While the majority of Pixar's output has a lot to offer a wide range of demographics, in my opinion The Good Dinosaur skews heavily towards a younger audience. The plot is disappointingly simplistic – young dinosaur Arlo gets separated from his family, forms an unlikely friendship with Spot, a feral human child who looks uncannily like Zooey Deschanel and together they try to find their way home. It's a story arc that is seriously overused in the genre and to make the film interesting to anyone above the age of seven, The Good Dinosaur would have to compensate with some serious laughs, excellent visuals or a hammer blow to the heartstrings.

For me, The Good Dinosaur falls down on all three counts. The script lacks spark and while there are a couple of good gags that made me chuckle, for the most part the dialogue is a little sappy and just serves as exposition for the lacklustre plot. The animation is a tale of two halves; the environments are breathtaking but within these photo-real vistas, the dinosaurs themselves look plastic and incongruous. And what of the weep-factor? Well, the friendship between Arlo and Spot is sweet but I wasn't so invested in them that I ever felt close to a sniffle.

Overall, The Good Dinosaur just feels a little safe. It doesn't have the spirit or imagination to put it in the same league with the best of Pixar's output and will only become a firm favourite with the younger Pixar fans.

- Linda O'Brien