My Thoughts: THE GOOD DINOSAUR (2015)


Time to review what many deem to be Pixar’s less entertaining film of 2015, The Good Dinosaur. Fraught with production troubles, this film received a negative reaction from many fans saying that it wasn’t really any good. Others say that this film is actually an underrated gem. How do I feel about the film? Well, let’s take a look.

The film takes place in an alternate reality in which the asteroids that were supposed to destroy the dinosaurs actually missed the Earth completely. Because of this, dinosaurs continued to thrive and evolve learning new skills over the years, such as farming.

Organic food lovers would have loved produce from this farm!
Organic food fanatics would have loved produce from this farm!

One young Apatosaurus named Arlo, voiced by Raymond Ochoa, isn’t particularly brave, but soon has to learn to overcome his fears when natural forces sweep him far away from his home and he has to find his way back. Along the way, he bumps into many different characters including a stray human dog-like child named Spot.

Their relationship wasn't so friendly in the beginning though!
Their relationship wasn’t so friendly in the beginning though!

So, what did I think about this film? I liked it…but that’s it. I didn’t love it nor did I think it was an amazing film, but I liked it. It has its pros and its cons. Let me start by talking about what I think was the biggest strength of the movie: the animation.

While the animation of the dinosaurs may seem somewhat cartoony, nobody can deny the sheer beauty that is the animation of everything else, especially the natural backgrounds. The river looks so real and menacing! The mountains seem majestic! The overall scenery is just gorgeous!






Another thing I loved about the animation has to do with some T-Rex’s that Arlo bumps into later on in the film. They play the role of cattle ranchers and have to herd up some longhorns. What really excited me about how they run is that they run like how a cowboy on a horse would look while riding. Rather than moving the way a T-Rex in a film like Jurassic Park might move, their legs move in a sort of galloping way and their arms move as if they’re holding onto invisible reins. I just thought that was an incredibly clever way of animating them!

"Giddy-up, pardner!"
“Giddy-up, pardner!”

Now, what about the cons? Well, the biggest complaint people make about this film is that story-wise, it’s not much. It’s about a young dinosaur finding his way home and nothing much else happens. You see, this film is supposed to be something like an animated Western, the type of Westerns that are incredibly simple in plot: hero goes on journey, bumps into characters along the way, etc. And this film does exactly that. Does that make the film bad or boring? I won’t argue that it makes the film bad, but I can say that it puts a damper in the rewatch factor for me. I could, for example, see myself rewatching Pixar films that I’m not in love with such as Up or WALL-E more so than I would this film.

Now, do I think this film deserved an Academy Award nomination? Eh, I’m not sure. Inside Out and Shaun the Sheep Movie definitely deserved their nominations, but I haven’t seen the other three films that were nominated. Hence, I can’t say whether one of those three should have been replaced with The Good Dinosaur. So, basically, I’m not upset that this film wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award, nor would I be surprised if I thought this film should have been nominated instead of the other three.

Summing up, I liked the film, but I’m not going to ameliorate that sentence beyond that. Where does this rank amongst the rest of Pixar’s films for me? Do I agree with those people who say that this is Pixar’s worst film ever? Before I answer that, let me make two statements first:

"Wait, let me get my pencil and paper first!"
“Wait, let me get my pencil and paper first!”

1) I think we can all agree that the quality of Pixar’s films is so good that even the worst Pixar films are still decent. Hence, designating a film to be the worst Pixar film isn’t really much of an insult. It just means that it’s the least best.

", got it!"
“Worst…does…not….equal…to….insult…ok, got it!”

2) I also think that there is a nigh unanimous consensus that the worst Pixar films (in no particular order) would be Monsters University, Cars 2, Brave, and The Good Dinosaur.

"Worst...four...Pixar...films....ok, continue!"
“Worst…four…Pixar…films….ok, continue!”

Having said that, the question now is do I think The Good Dinosaur is a worse film than Monsters University, Cars 2, and Brave? I’ve battled with myself over the answer to this question for a long time! I’ve finally come to the somewhat hesitant conclusion that I do like those other three movies better than The Good Dinosaur. But what about the actual quality of the films? Well, I believe that both Monsters University and Brave are generally better films than The Good Dinosaur.

So, the question is, “Is Cars 2 better than The Good Dinosaur?”. Like I said before, I definitely like Cars 2 better than The Good Dinosaur, but the animation and story in Cars 2 are average, at best. Whereas The Good Dinosaur suffers in story, but makes up for in gorgeous animation! So for that reason, I would have to say that Cars 2 is the worst Pixar film ever, in my opinion, and The Good Dinosaur is the SECOND worst! And like I said before, there’s nothing wrong with that!


22 thoughts on “My Thoughts: THE GOOD DINOSAUR (2015)”

  1. I loved Brave! 🙂 Monsters was alright…to me and Cars (both) sucked b***s seriously forgive my language but I had to get it out lol! Inside out was also ok to me but it was very creative IMO…And oh my oscar list looks like this ..sorry for posting it here:
    -Best picture x
    -Actor in leading role v
    -Actress in leading role v
    -Actor in supporting role x
    -Actress in supporting role v
    -Animated film x
    -Cinematography x
    -Costume design v
    -Directing v
    -Document feature v
    -Documentary short v
    -Film editing x
    -Foreign language v
    -Makeup & hairstyling v
    -Music original score v
    -Music original song v
    -Production design v
    -Short film animated v
    – Short film live action v
    -Sound editing v
    -Sound mixing v
    -Visual effect v
    -Writing as x
    -Writing os v
    We actually got more as a collective (The hubby and more. I thought we had 14. The ‘Vs’ denote check mark for right…lol

    1. Lol np! Most people in the world will say that ‘Cars 2’ was the weakest in Pixar and many would include ‘Cars’ as well. I think I just love ‘Cars 2’ a lot mainly because of Michael Caine.

      And great job on your Oscar list! That’s your collective list, right? It looks like you got 18 right, so you beat me, lol!

  2. I think this was a very fair review my friend. I felt like too many compared it to Inside Out when they are apples and oranges. I really loved the old fashioned feel of the story. It reminded me of old school Disney seeing bond between Arlo and Spot (Dumbo) and Arlo learning overcome fears (Pinocchio) and battling nature (Bambi). I thought it was really cool and people were way too hard on it. I’m happy you saw some value even if you didnt love it just liked it. That’s great. 🙂

      1. Right! People were acting like it was Norm of the North and that frustrated me.

  3. The thing about this film is that it’s just so forgettable. My father and I agreed that while the animation is excellent (apart from the actual characters) there’s really not much worth recommending. It leaves no real impression.

    What’s especially disappointing is how much more Zootopia did with its what-if premise than this did, and how much more serious thought went into it. Disney is becoming the new Pixar and it really makes me worry for Pixar’s reputation if it keeps this streak up even though Inside Out was quite excellent. This honestly felt more like a Blue Sky Studios movie than anything else.

    I’m going to add A Bug’s Life and Cars to the “worst Pixar” group in comparing this and say that while I think this is better than Cars 2, Monsters University, A Bug’s Life, and Cars are all far better. Brave is only marginally better, because while both suffered from the constant change in production team, Brave ultimately was more entertaining and had more of a coherent story.

    I really hope Finding Dory manages to be better than this.

    1. Yeah, because of the story just not being something all that great or impactful is why I put this as the second worst Pixar film.

      And I was debating whether A Bug’s Life or Cars were also of the worst Pixar films list, but I think they’re just one degree above the four that I mentioned.

      So far, I’m not all that excited for Finding Dory after seeing the trailer, but who knows? It could surprise me.

  4. At least one person really got a kick out of this movie:
    “The Good Dinosaur was a classic western set in the post-Jurassic period and it CHANGED MY LIFE.”
    – Raj, The Big Bang Theory

  5. [SPOILERS!]

    I agree with you pretty much about everything here, except for the T-rexes running. That bugs me to no end! It makes me very upset.

    I don’t think it deserved an Academy Award nomination, I’d much rather that Peanuts movie had gotten one.

    As the cartoony designs go, I know what they were trying to do, but it doesn’t work for me at all. With this kind of story I’d have preferred a more cartoony enovironment, maybe I would’ve bought the whole farmers thing more then. As it is, it just feels a bit odd.

    Oh and last thing, the trailer made it seem like Arlo was going to get lost at the big storm that took his father, which would’ve made sense and been dramatic. But no, he just sort of clumsily falls in close to home. Ugh.
    It’s a decent movie, but I wanted more.

    1. Yeah, as far as I know, I’m the only one who was boyishly in awe of the way the T-rexes ran. Everyone else was annoyed by it and found it stupid, lol!

      And yeah, it was kinda stupid how he got lost, he kinda just slipped and fell into the river.

      Maybe if the movie didn’t have so many production problems, we would have gotten a better movie.

      1. Haha, I can sort of appreciate their idea for it… but I’m just such a dinosaur fan that as soon as I see dino animation that’s “wrong” it bugs me big time 🙂

        Yeah maybe. I’m curious about what changed when they changed director.

  6. I watched this movie last night and was curious to jump on and see what you had thought about it, because I too was grappling with what I was feeling about the movie after I watched it.

    Pretty much, I agree with everything you said. It was ok. I liked it, but don’t know how many times I will rewatch it. There are certain scenes that are spectacular (and of course the animation is spectacular), but it was just kinda “meh” for me. I keep trying to read more into it (like I always seem to do) but nothing is really coming. Maybe that’s the point. It’s just a story about a little dinosaur who has to find his way back to his family and get over his fears.

    It too, for me, is the second “worst” Pixar. Cars 2 is just… ugh.

    Curious what you end up saying about Zootopia.

    1. I’m flattered that you felt the need to “jump on and see what I thought” of this movie right after you watched the film, lol. Thanks!

      Yeah, this movie is…I feel, if it didn’t go through all its production problems, we would have had a very different film.

      And yeah, even though I say Cars 2 is worse than this, I like Cars 2 much more than this one.

      And I saw Zootopia in theaters, but honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. So, I’ll be posting my review after I see it again once it comes on DVD, so it’ll take some time.

  7. Personally, I’m not a fan of the old trope of non-avian dinosaurs living alongside humans (with the possible exception of JURASSIC PARK, if that counts), and this film’s subversion of it doesn’t help at all. I wasn’t really fond of the rather cartoony design of the characters, either.

    The basic story, while not especially memorable, serves its purpose, and the characters are OK-ish, but nothing special. By far, the best part for me was the world in which the film takes place, for it really captures the grandeur and majesty of the American West– in this department, it kind of hearkens back to SPIRIT and BROTHER BEAR, as far as I can tell.

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