When it comes to the natural history of Earth, one misconception among people not familiar with the subject is that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Scientists know that an asteroid had collided with Earth approximately 65 million years ago, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, and that humans came into existence about one million years ago. Still, it can be fun to imagine what it would be like if humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Some movies and television shows have explored this idea, the latest example being the 2015 Disney/Pixar animated film The Good Dinosaur. This is a film that presents a touching human-dinosaur relationship, assuming that the asteroid headed for Earth actually misses the planet and spares the dinosaurs’ lives.
Given that this is a movie by Pixar, you can expect more lovable dinosaurs than vicious ones. The beginning of this movie depicts a family of four-legged dinosaurs living on a farm. Yes, they are intelligent enough to grow their own crops, and irrigation is easy since they simply suck in and spit out large amounts of water onto the crops. Anyway, the family consists of a father, mother, and three dinosaur offspring. Of the three kids, Arlo is the smallest and most cowardly. His intense fear keeps him from doing certain challenging tasks, but you can tell that his fear is also associated with a good heart.
The main thing that happens in this movie is that Arlo encounters a human baby eating his family’s food, which takes Arlo far away from home to an unknown location. The dinosaur wanders through the wilderness, hoping to find the river and the mountain peaks that could guide him home. On the way, he encounters the baby again. This time, the meeting is more friendly, as the baby decides to provide needed help for Arlo. A new friendship forms between Arlo and the baby, whom Arlo names Spot. Arlo continues his journey with Spot as a helpful companion along his side.
There are two themes that are evident in this movie. The first is the challenge of overcoming fear. It’s something that we all need to do in our own lives at one point for another. For Arlo, overcoming fear is necessary to survive and make his way back home. Plenty of perilous situations put that to the test, whether they are vicious creatures or threats from Mother Nature. The second theme is friendship, which is typical for many Pixar movies. If you look on the outside, Spot looks and acts like a feral animal, but if you wait long enough, you will see why he is that way and develop some sympathy for the character.
The Good Dinosaur is only 90 minutes long, but it’s actually a nice movie to watch. Yes, it’s mostly predictable without an epic feel to the adventure, but it still has one thing going for it: appeal to the heart. For me, there were a few scenes that were just touching and heartfelt, the kind that could bring tears to some people’s eyes. That right there is enough for me to generously bump my rating for this movie one star higher. So instead of a 7/10 for a good movie, I’m giving The Good Dinosaur an 8/10 for a movie that is better than that. Even after 20 years, Pixar has once again released an enjoyable feature-length film for the whole family.