After the stunning and original Inside Out, Pixar has released this very ordinary, unoriginal and disappointing coming-of-age film about Arlo, a young dinosaur who gets washed downriver from his family farm (yes, dinosaurs in this film have farms and talk) and must find his way home. Along the way, he finds a faithful companion (a boy who behaves like a dog; he can’t talk, only howl) and encounters a series of adventures. Arlo seems to be falling or in peril every few minutes, as if to highlight the 3D (I watched it in 2D), so there’s lots of repetitive action.
There are some baddies out there, who need to be fought, though mostly with nonlethal violence. Still, they had to show Arlo become a man by following his late poppa’s advice and probably killing the nastiest of those he encounters (knocking him out of the sky with a stick). It was completely unnecessary, since the baddie was running away anyway, showing again the lack of imagination and thought on the part of the writers.
Surprising to us was the wild west theme in a film about dinosaurs. It didn’t work for us even a little bit, though I enjoyed Sam Elliott as a big T-Rex. There were some subversive ideas tossed in, especially in the story of the boy and the dinosaur, but not enough meat for me.
The actors did well enough, the score was very good, and the background animation was spectacular, though the character animation was nothing special. The Good Dinosaur has its moments and it’s relatively harmless, but it gets only ***. My mug is up but low expectations are in order.