Kids Korner: The Good Dinosaur - Beautiful animation that cannot make up for a ridiculous dino-western - 2.5 stars

You have to get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side. - Poppa

Popcorn, M&Ms and a large drink. Roll the film... The pre-production for this film has been well-documented. With all of the re-working of this film, did they save it from extinction? 

Kid's Korner rating: 2.5 stars

            It is fascinating when a review becomes a commentary on the company that puts out the film, but it is hard to avoid discussing Pixar when reviewing The Good Dinosaur. This production company has managed to put out some of the best animated films in history in their short existence. They have stumbled over the last few years with a multitude of sequels and their lack of original ideas since the Disney acquisition and the subsequent purge that followed. Pixar continues to prove that they can innovate with this year’s Inside Out, but in the same year show their lack of perfection with this disastrous dinosaur outing. The behind the scenes drama that preceded this film has been well-documented with changes in the director, voice talent and storyline. This has led to the relatively quiet release for a Pixar film that no one seems to notice. 
              The latest Pixar outing asks the question, “What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct?” The dinosaur tale that ensues is the introduction of a world where dinosaurs can talk, farm and herd cattle. Humans have evolved from wolves and all of this is set against the backdrop of Colorado-esque scenery. The central character is young Arlo, who is the runt of the litter of farming family Apatosaurus'. As he grows, he tries to make his mark on the world and more importantly within his family. Life on the dinosaur farm takes a tragic turn that leads to Arlo’s separation from his family. During the adventure back home, he must confront his fears and prejudices (yes, dinosaurs have prejudices) and he befriends a wild human named, Spot. The two have to work together to find their personal identities and survive the vicious world outside of the family farm. 
               To be fair, the visual landscapes are amazing. Pixar's ability to portray real landscapes through computer generation continues to marvel the viewer and this is the key salvation to this outing. What is not seen in the trailers is that director Peter Sohn is making a western with dinosaurs in the lead roles. Putting aside the multitude of references to bizarre evolutionary links, this is a story that borrows from other pre-historic films like Ice Age and The Croods. These films insisted upon a jump of logic, but the storyline was farcical enough that they were appealing. There are familial elements, but it lacks the laughs that help to lift it from being an animated documentary of dinosaurs.
              The problem with The Good Dinosaur is that it takes itself too seriously. It never allows the story to be considered ridiculous, but rather that it is plausible. Which is hard to swallow when the Apatosaurus family are farmers, the Tyrannosaurus Rex family are cattle ranchers and the humans run in packs like wolves. If that is not enough, cold-blooded reptiles are meant to survive in the harsh climate of the mountains. Another component that never gets explained is that across this expansive landscape there are very few dinosaurs. The astroid did not eliminate the dinosaurs, but unlike what is presented in the opening credits, only a handful of dinosaurs inhabit this third rock from the sun. 
              The Good Dinosaur lacks the magic of Pixar or Disney. Director Sohn had a dinosaur size task to make something of the mess that was given to him. He was left with magnificent scenery, but a weak story. He did an admirable job, but this is a film that should have been allowed to go extinct.
If Dad was to ask me what I thought of the film?  Rent Inside Out instead.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are the bigger questions we could ask our kids? 
Based on what we can know from the Bible, mankind was created in the image of God. The Good Dinosaur is a 'what if' scenario, but it would be worth sitting down with children to explain the true origins story of this world and mankind. Helping them to understand that  God made mankind with the purpose of caring for God's creation and to glorify Him. This may help children to understand and even laugh more at the concept of The Good Dinosaur. This tawdry tale is meant to be mere entertainment, but the philosophical ideas should open the door to discussions with children and adults about the actual story of God's plan for His good creation on this planet. 

1. Did God create the dinosaurs? (Genesis 1)
2. Can we know about the creation of mankind? (Genesis 1, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11)
2. What does it mean to live with a purpose? (Romans 8:28, Philippians 4:13)

Trailer for the film

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Kid's Korner are reviews written by Russell Matthews' with his kid's perspective and based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #thegooddinosaur #pixar