The Good Dinosaur

After seeing an animated film, have you ever remained in your seat to make sure that you had wiped all the tears from your eyes? Need I really say any more about this tiny, good-natured film?

The Good DinosaurWhile it falls just short of the magnificence seen in Finding Nemo (2003) WALL-E (2008) and Up (2009), The Good Dinosaur deserves to be seen on its own merit. With a plot that will unashamedly bring tears to your eyes, particularly near its end, it is a film that shouldn’t be missed.

As science long ago told us, dinosaurs are presumed to be wiped from the surface of this planet after a large meteor struck approximately 65 million years ago. With this interesting film, Pixar draws a conclusion that the meteor actually missed our planet, allowing dinosaurs to go about their daily business.

This film then jumps ahead several million years, focusing on the American West. Dinosaurs have now developed ranching and farming techniques, but dangers and surprises lurk around every corner.

Director Peter Sohn brings us a film that focuses on a dinosaur family. The father, Poppa (Jeffrey Wright), is a caring stern man who tries to teach his three sons the value of loyalty and working hard. The mother, Momma (Frances McDormand), is a loving soul who is the dinosaur version of June Cleaver from the old TV “Leave it to Beaver” series (1957-1963).

As for the three sons, the two oldest function as a chip off dad’s block, while the youngest, Arlo (Jack McGraw), is overcome by fear at every turn. When dad takes Arlo on an adventure beyond the family farm that results in disaster, Arlo is left trying to exist in a Neanderthal world where death constantly challenges him.

It was at this moment when the movie comes alive as Arlo meets a little human boy who crawls on all fours. Though Arlo views the child as a pest whose lack of language skills is a profound annoyance, the two become loveable friends as Spot (Jack Bright) repeated guides our duo out of danger.

This is one of those films that gains momentum the longer it lasts. As Arlo desperately tries to find his way back home, our duo encounters constant problems ranging from pterodactyls who would love to eat little Spot to three Tyrannosaurus Rex who are on a mission that will decide the fate of our principal characters.

Given that my son and daughter-in-law were visiting family acquaintances in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving, I was once again forced to see an animated film by myself. I point that out because the theater became extraordinarily quiet as Arlo and Spot were left on the edge of destruction, and I unashamedly admit that I had to catch my breath at times as I tried to hide the fact that I was wiping tears from my cheek.

While I doubt that The Good Dinosaur will rival Inside Out for this year’s animated Oscar, I strongly believe that this film will find a way to tug at your heart. So reward yourself by finding a way to buy a ticket.