The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur is not quite up to the standard of Pixar’s best, but the kids’ll still love it.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Peter Sohn). 95 minutes. Opens Friday (November 27). See listings. Rating: NNN

Where to watch: iTunes

After the unqualified triumph of Inside Out earlier this summer, it was probably too much to expect Pixar to deliver another masterwork so quickly. Or maybe it’s just that this one is very clearly made for a much younger crowd.

The Good Dinosaur is a messy what-if movie set on an Earth where dinosaurs weren’t wiped out by a meteor 65 million years ago, instead evolving into farmers and ranchers. The story focuses on Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), a fearful young apatosaurus who gets separated from his family, befriends a feral human boy and tries to get back home. 

Certain individual sequences are remarkably heartfelt, and the film’s design and animation are dazzling. But the tone is inconsistent, and the whole thing feels awfully slapdash, with a script that somehow borrows equally from An American Tail, Old Yeller and Shane and a concept that feels even less thought through than Cars. 

The project was notoriously difficult to produce. Disney/Pixar replaced original director Bob Peterson early on and most of the voice cast just last year, hiring new actors for the existing roles. Perhaps that’s why The Good Dinosaur feels like it swings a little wide. Your kids won’t mind, but I bet you’ll notice. 

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