ReelBob: ‘The Good Dinosaur’

By Bob Bloom

Similar to a host of other Disney and Pixar animated films, “The Good Dinosaur” follows the tried-and-true formula of a protagonist who feels inadequate and must overcome fear or a lack of self-confidence to rise to the occasion and save the day.

Now, that is not a knock at the film. No, “The Good Dinosaur” is an enjoyable romp that is aimed directly at the youngsters as it follows an imaginative premise: What would have happened if the asteroid that struck Earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs had missed?

The movie is set millions of years after the nonevent. Arlo is the smallest and youngest in an Apatosaurus family that farms the land and stores up food for the winter.

Arlo is given the task of guarding the winter supply of corn, which is being filched by an unknown critter.

After a family tragedy, Arlo is swept away from his home and must find his way back through a hostile terrain.

A new friend, the sticky-fingered critter, who turns out to be a human child whom Arlo names Spot, helps him.

Spot, who cannot speak, displays a dog-like devotion to Arlo and helps him out of several scrapes.

“The Good Dinosaur’s” journey also is one of self-discovery — a moral parable — about finding the strength and confidence within oneself to accomplish goals that once were thought to be unattainable.

The movie is sweet overall, despite a few scary moments and dinosaur characters that may upset very young viewers. It also is a beautifully visualized film, with majestic mountains and forests, as well as some breathtaking sequences involving fireflies.

The animators also do a fine job of demonstrating the weight and heft of the various dinosaurs, especially compared with the smallish Arlo, who is the runt of the litter.

The visuals do overshadow the thin storyline, which is not a problem since the film is definitely aimed at younger viewers, who will definitely enjoy a sequence in which Arlo and Spot help a T-Rex family round up a herd of longhorns that had been rustled by some mangy, sharp-toothed varmints.

A tone of familiarity also encircles the movie, as it echoes earlier Disney films, most notably “The Lion King.”

That, however, is a minor quibble because “The Good Dinosaur” offers a lot of heart.

It’s a perfect holiday-season film to which the entire family can bond. It offers excitement, danger and life lessons that children can appreciate and parents can reinforce.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and The Film Yap ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes:

3½ stars out of 4
(PG) for sequences of danger and some disturbing elements

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