Since his birth, Arlo the Apatosaurus (Raymond Ochoa) has always been different from his family. In place of the bravery he should possess, he is often easily frightened by the things that surround him, rendering him unable to live up to the expectations of his family.
But through an unlikely friendship with a little boy whom he names Spot (Jack Bright), he eventually finds the courage within him to make his mark.
This is what I’d like to call a deadly combination in an animation film for me. Combining a touching and funny storyline with dinosaurs turns me into a slightly crazy person because of all the laughing and crying involved. The touching parts definitely got to me the most as I left the cinema with red and puffy eyes.
The story itself was pretty simple, but it was the process of Arlo finding himself that really hit home. I really liked that they gave this film a Southern feel from the start to the finish in the most subtle way. The characterisations were easy to recognise and similarities could be seen – even if they were still dinosaurs.
I especially loved the way they made the T-Rexes the cowboys of the film and put them in scenarios where cowboy stereotypes are evident – all while still maintaining the natural traits of a dinosaur.
With that said, the characters in the film each had their own quirks that differentiated them from each other. From the slightly loony, old, camouflaging Styracosaurus to the crazy, hustling and delusional Pterodactylus, every character had recognisable humanised traits.
Despite the characters being talking dinosaurs, the geniuses at Pixar never fail to make them relatable to humans. One such example is the scene between Arlo and Spot where the ‘no eye contact during peeing’ rule was enforced to hilarious reactions.
Contrary to my initial impression that the voice cast was made up of unknowns, I was surprised to find two notable actors voicing unlikely characters in the film. Jeffrey Wright, better known for his role as Beetee in The Hunger Games voiced Poppa Henry, Arlo’s father while Anna Paquin (yes, Rogue and Sookie Stackhouse) voiced the chirpy female Tyrannosaurus named Ramsey.
Their animated characters were pretty similar to the other on-screen characters they’ve played, which was probably the reason they were cast in these roles. Paquin’s Ramsey was literally the animated version of Sookie Stackhouse, minus the non-PG elements.
The art direction for the film was simply stunning, and the colours and visual are enhanced even further when viewed in 3D. One of my favourite scenes in the film was the Pterodactylus peeking their beaks out through the thickness of the grey clouds. Viewing it from an audience member’s point of view helped us feel the exact fear Arlo had.
It was not only daunting and frightening but it also translated to the way we must feel when we see a shark fin sticking out in the vast ocean.
Being a Disney Pixar film, it is a requirement to come equipped with touching scenes that do not just tug but pull hard at your heartstrings. Since Brave in 2012, Disney/Pixar films have taken a slight turn in direction by focusing on family themes. The Good Dinosaur is no different, as two very different characters are taken and moulded into unlikely brothers who care for each other like they would their own flesh and blood.
[SPOILER ALERT] It was particularly moving for me when the time came for them to go their separate ways, even when they clearly had a bond. The hug they had at the end made me go into full-on ugly crying mode, and thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes.
Unlike Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur is perfect for the really young to the really mature. It doesn’t just bring the laughs – it also gives you an opportunity for a cathartic release with the crying.
I’m officially putting this out there – The Good Dinosaur is no doubt the best animated film of 2015.