Movie, Reviews

The Good Dinosaur, A Fun Family Adventure

GOOD DINO poster


One of their best made animated movies Disney/PIXAR ups their portfolio with The Good Dinosaur, an adventure filled with surprises and comedy. It’s a fun family film that features good values about growing up, facing your fears and friendship. The story may be a little familiar for the teens if they have seen most of the animated films in the past 6 years or so, but the youngsters should love the dinosaurs and young Spot. Don’t believe a word of the not so flattering reviews as they’re written by older jaded critics that have seen everything.

The youngest of a family of five dinosaurs, Arlo has a lot of growing up to do to keep up with the farm so that they have food for the winter. He finds the going rough, especially with his older brother Buck who tricks him for fun. His sister Libby works with Momma and Arlo’s father Poppa plows the field so planting can begin. Poppa knows he has to help Arlo become a man so he takes Arlo on a trip to familiarize him with his abilities.

Butch, Ramsey and Nash help Arlo and Spot
Butch, Ramsey and Nash help Arlo and Spot

During one trip Poppa saves Arlo from the rampaging waters of the river only to be sucked into a torrent and disappear. Arlo gets washed up along a bank of the river now lost and alone. When he meets a human cave child he calls Spot the two start to bond as Arlo tries to get back to his family many miles to home.

Arlo shows Spot his firefly trick
Arlo shows Spot his firefly trick

The film moves along providing a wide-eyed adventure with many prehistoric animals, difficult challenges and a lot of growing-up. Director, writer, voice actor Peter Sohn puts together an experience for youngsters and adults that should rank mid to high among other PIXAR greats. His very colorful with extremely real looking rivers and landscapes are a good setting for the dinosaur family to farm and keep their food supply plentiful. It’s this amazing animated world he creates that makes the film work. And his funny little characters who roam the vast stage have plenty of settings to bring the creative little story to life.

Arlo meets the funny Pet Collector a Styracosaurus
Arlo meets the funny Pet Collector a Styracosaurus

Speaking of characters it’s easy to fall in love with Arlo, an Apatosaurus who lived 150 million years ago in the age of the Tithonian. The landscape he roams may be a little familiar because their habit included Western United States in the area of what’s now Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah. When we meet Arlo he’s an awkward little guy who doesn’t have much agility to do chores and keep up with his family. But, as the film progresses we find him meeting many challenges that force him to become wiser, responsive and stronger.

Spot tells Arlo about his family
Spot tells Arlo about his family

His new found friend Spot has already learned the way of living alone in the vast mountainous wilderness of Earth. He hunts dog-like for food, even steals Arlo’s family crops and gets himself and Arlo into some sticky situations. A son of a caveman family, he found himself alone when they perished. Rising above adversity the young tike has become Tithonian smart, able to fend off flying creatures, unfriendly dinosaurs and the changing Earth to survive. Spot’s the comedy that carries the drama of being lost in a wasteland.

The Good Dinosaur has been rated PG for peril, action and thematic elements. There are some pretty ugly snakes, birds that attack most anything for food and a treacherous river. Sit as close as possible to your youngest as they may need a hug during those scenes.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very cool adventure about friendship. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Jack Bright, AJ Buckley, Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Anna Paquin, Marcus Scribner, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn. 
Directed: Peter Sohn
Genre: Animated, Comedy, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG for peril, action and thematic elements
Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date: November 25, 2015
Distributed by: Disney/PIXAR
Release Formats: 2D, 3D

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at