In terms of animation, The Good Dinosaur upholds Pixar’s excellence and more. The natural environment in this alternate history is photo-realistic, from the stones to the American Southwest landscape. Every detail is rendered with a technical brilliance that what could have mundane moments in real life, such as packed dirt loosening into a mound of soil or the movement of shallow water in Arlo’s scenes, is a wonder.
The voice acting is decent enough and fits their roles.
In terms of storytelling though, The Good Dinosaur doesn’t provide anything memorable.
We are introduced to simple farm life. The oversized animals are not just anthropomorphic, but also civilized. The family has three kids with stereotypical characters – the smart ass, the meathead, and the runt of the litter.
The plot focuses on the coward straight outta the egg for a generic coming-of-age/adventure narrative. Arlo doesn’t have any convincing reason why he’s such a fearsome dinosaur even before he stepped out of his shell.
The story follows the Pixar formula to a T – adult lessons through the character arc of a misfit scarred by tragedy. Of course, there’s a sentimental moment set-up to make you cry.
In fairness, Arlo’s journey is well thought out and his relationship with Spot is developed nicely. There are also a couple of unexpected allies and fitting foils here.
But everything is so obviously pieced together to tug at your heartstrings. It doesn’t help that the characters are forgettable.
The neatly wrapped up ending comes in to finish the Pixar template.
The Good Dinosaur is an emotionally manipulative and forgettable by-the-Pixar-playbook story. It’s well made enough to entertain kids but doesn’t have the mass appeal of its better-crafted predecessors.
The Good Dinosaur
The Good Dinosaur has impressive visuals with the worst of Pixar Formula - emotionally manipulative stories disguised as fables.