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03 Dec 2015

Shoulda Remained Extinct: Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur' Is a Spotty Mess

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A scene from The Good Dinosaur. A scene from The Good Dinosaur.

The second Pixar offering this year, after Inside Out, is a mess—a spotty film that, not surprisingly, had a troubled production.

The Good Dinosaur is set in an alternative universe in which dinosaurs were spared extinction and instead grew up to be farmers in the Old West. One young dinosaur, named Arlo (the voice of Raymond Ochoa), is a runt afraid of chickens; his dad (Jeffrey Wright) tasks him with killing the critter that is eating all of their winter corn. The critter is actually a little human who Arlo befriends and names Spot. The two wind up being pals after getting lost in the wilderness shortly after Arlo’s dad dies in a flood.

If this all sounds really weird, that’s because it is really weird. The movie feels like too many ideas and a hatchet job replaced major plot points and characters. Ultimately, there’s really no story: The dinosaur gets lost; the dinosaur goofs around with his little human friend; the dinosaur goes home.

The nothing story might’ve been OK had the art direction been worthy of Pixar, but it is not. The backgrounds look real, while the dinosaurs look like fluorescent salamanders. Yes, Spot the cave boy is awesome, but he can’t save the film from feeling like a pastiche of mediocre ideas that should’ve been abandoned. This is only the second Pixar film, after Cars 2, that wound up being a mess.

Given Inside Out is one of 2015’s best films, Pixar still had a pretty good year. I just don’t want to ever see The Good Dinosaur again.

The Good Dinosaur is playing at theaters across the valley.

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