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Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Good Dinosaur fails to live up to the Pixar name


New Pixar movie feels too formulaic and familiar

In his first full-length film, director Peter Sohn comes up short when tasked with leading Pixar’s newest animation, The Good Dinosaur. Due to Pixar’s long history of producing classic movies, audiences have come to expect that a certain standard be met when it comes to the company’s animated productions. Unfortunately, The Good Dinosaur fails to live up to the Pixar name. Though the concept may be original, the story feels all too formulaic while the characters are forgettable, a recipe for disaster when it comes to any motion picture.

The film asks the question: what if the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs missed? Long story short, there would still be dinosaurs. The movie is set in an alternate timeline 65 million years after the asteroid safely flies over and misses Earth, two Apatosauruses named Henry (Jeffrey Wright) and Ida (Frances McDormand), give birth to three children: Libby (Maleah Nipay-Padilla), Buck (Marcus Scribner) and the runt of the litter, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa). While his siblings quickly adjust to their responsibilities and life on the family farm, Arlo’s nervous disposition sets him apart. Aware that Arlo is struggling with his duties, Henry gives Arlo a sense of purpose and puts him in charge of guarding their silo from pests and helping to set up traps.

The trap works as Arlo manages to capture one of the pests, a wild caveboy that has been eating their winter reserves in the silo. Though instructed to kill any pests on sight, Arlo instead reverts back to his timid nature and sets the caveboy free. Furious that Arlo let him go, Henry decides to teach Arlo a lesson and forces him to join in on tracking down the caveboy. Things go bad when a flash flood causes Arlo to lose his dad; eventually Arlo is swept up by the river and stranded far away from home. With nothing left to lose, Arlo and his now caveboy pet, Spot (Jack Bright), form an unlikely friendship as the two set forth on the journey back home.

Disappointingly, the big question regarding the asteroid that missed Earth turned out to have very little to do with the plot. Though the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, with the most realistic animated water you’ve ever seen, the glaring contrast between the lifelike scenery and overly cartoonish characters make what you’re seeing on screen a bit jarring. Not one of Sohn’s obnoxious and cringeworthy characters were memorable in the slightest and it’s hard to picture a world where kids want to dress up as Arlo or Spot for Halloween.

It’s clear that this is his first major motion picture, as Sohn’s film seems rushed as well as formulaically pumped out of the Pixar factory as distinct moments are noticeably too similar to Disney and Pixar movie scenes we all know and love. Arlo’s separation from his dad parallels Simba’s reaction to Mufasa’s death in The Lion King, while the field of fireflies near Arlo’s farm is comparable to the floating lanterns in Tangled. Both parallels are so apparent that feelings of sadness, joy and wonder are quickly replaced with apathy as the film unintentionally radiates unoriginality. Don’t get me wrong, The Good Dinosaur is a nice family movie that the kids will love. It has just enough heart and laughs to keep the audience entertained. However, when these same children grow old enough to differentiate between good and bad movies, they’ll all come to the same inevitable truth: The Good Dinosaur is mediocre at best.

To this day, we remember Pixar classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up. 10 years from now, these are the types of family movies that will be remembered. However, it’s hard to imagine the same for this film. Simply put, perhaps it would be best if the asteroid did indeed hit Earth, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and taking The Good Dinosaur with it.

WRITTEN BY: David Park – arts@theaggie.org


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