The Good Dinosaur (PG)

Animation 100 min. November 25, 2015
By Alan Scherstuhl
The Good Dinosaur is another episodic growing-up adventure story, here copy-pasted over with the one kid obsession yet to be given Pixar's feature-film treatment. Still, the vistas are gorgeous, and the setup is clever — and certain to upset creationist types. Underpinning the usual hero's-journey jazz is an alt-history what-if. Sixty-five million years ago, we're told, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs got knocked slightly off course, whizzing close enough to Earth that it briefly dazzles some munching diplodocuses. The story kicks in millions of years later, The Land After The Land Before Time. Dinos have thrived: They've developed agriculture, language, home-building, chicken-rearing, and the techniques of lesson-oriented parenting. Apatosaurus runt Arlo is born with two siblings to kindly farmer parents -- Mom and Dad till their cornfields by nosing their sauropod faces into the dirt and nudging forward.

How these hand- and finger-free lizards erect a stone silo is a mystery that the momentum-minded Pixar can't be bothered with — instead, it's in a rush to subordinate this science fiction Earth to a standard-issue Disney plot in which a young'un gets separated from family and then comes of age by almost dying lots of times. Soon, young Arlo faces tragedy and is lost in the wild, eager to get back home to his mother — and to prove himself mighty and courageous like his father. You'll probably cry a little, but you might nod off, too. One curiosity: This movie has a sharper, crazier psilocybin freak-out than the 'shroom-fueled The Night Before. When this comes on at your family Thanksgiving next year, keep an eye peeled.
Peter Sohn Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Maleah Nipay-Padilla, Ryan Teeple, Jack McGraw, Marcus Scribner, Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Peter Sohn, Steve Zahn Bob Peterson, Enrico Casarosa John Walker Disney/PIXAR

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