Following on from Pixar’s no-one-can-quite-shut-up-about-how-awesome-it-is Inside Out, the studio’s next release was always likely to be a bit of a come-down. Stepping up to that unwanted task was The Good Dinosaur – an animation riddled with production problems, including a change of director, cast and release date – which was, eventually, helmed by newbie Peter Sohn.
So that meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs? It missed. Sohn’s dino-tale picks up millions of years later, following the adventures of a young anxiety-ridden Apatosaurus named Arlo (Jack McGraw/Raymond Ochoa) who wants to prove to his increasingly frustrated family that he’s not the woeful wimp they think he is.
When tasked by his ‘Poppa’ (voiced by The Hunger Games’ Jeffrey Wright) with fending off the mysterious creature who had been eating their worryingly depleted food supplies, disaster strikes – Lion King-esque – as Arlo’s father slips to his untimely death whilst on the hunt for their crop-stealing pest.
Small in stature – but as ever with Disney-Pixar, big on heart – our loveable green and definitely-not-extinct friend ends up being washed away from his family farm, but with the help of an unlikely new chum, Spot the human (Jack Bright), the pair trudge through unknown territory in order to return home.
The Good Dinosaur feels like that old pair of slippers you can’t bring yourself to throw away: a little warn, a few holes in the sole, but still just about wearable. Familiarity seems to be the order of the day for Pixar’s latest Thanksgiving offering. Love, loss, friendship… it’s the usual sprinkling of Disney ideals, but wrapped up in an entirely underwhelming package.
This pre-historic adventure feels like it’s gone through the re-write ringer, unable to captivate or inspire – turning dinosaurs into mundane, bore-ish Barney rip-offs. There’s very much a feeling of ‘better safe than sorry’ in the film’s storyline– a disappointing, but not so surprising, outcome given recent output prior to Inside Out.
There’s some cutesy, nearly-emotional-enough-to-make-you-care moments, especially towards the film’s final stages between Arlo and the dog-like Spot that’ll soften the ol’ heartstrings – and from a technical point-of-view, it’s another fabulous looking, highly detailed affair from the Pixar crew – yet there’s very little else to get the blood pumping, the laughter bellowing or the tears flowing.
More like how to tame a dinosaur, Sohn’s safe-as-houses feature lacks originality and spark to make The Good Dinosaur anything other than an easily forgettable flick that’ll have a short life span in the memories of those who view it.