I have just come out from watching The Good Dinosaur with my nephew. The movie I must say was very powerful. In fact, I think this movie is more for adults than for children. It is a very deep and heavy movie for kids to really absorb and process, in my opinion. The movie is clearly not scientifically accurate (was not meant to be). For example, it begins with a scene from space showing an asteroid getting bumped off course in the asteroid belt. Its trajectory is towards the Earth, however, it missed the Earth preventing the annihilation of the dinosaurs. As many of you probably remember, paleontologists and others believed that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago allowing for human beings to evolve and become the dominant species. Later on, we see cavemen in the movie. Scientists do not believe that human beings and dinosaurs coexisted in real life.
This movie takes a different spin by allowed the dinosaurs to survive and somewhat evolve into intelligent anthropomorphic creatures who can speak. The audience is then introduced to the main characters of the movie who is a family of brontosauruses. A male brontosaurus is shown tilling the field and watering them as the female brontosaurus is at home and announces that their eggs are about to hatch. These characters are ‘poppa’ and ‘momma.’ Both enter the home and watch their three children hatch. Libby, Buck and then Arlo hatch. Libby and Buck come out large and healthy while Arlo comes out extremely small for his species. He is also scared of any little thing. These young dinosaurs begin to grow and take on different chores. Each does well except for young Arlo who is still very timid and clumsy. As winter approaches, the dinosaurs store corn in a tower. Poppa then makes a mark with his foot using mud, then momma does the same. He explains that each dinosaur has to earn his/her mark by doing something greater than him or herself that contributes to the good of others. Buck and Libby earn their marks except for Arlo. Arlo becomes frustrated and feels like he is incompetent. However, Poppa reassures him that he will come along and will be like him and more than him.
Poppa notices that a ‘critter’ is stealing corn so he gives Arlo the task to capture the critter and squish it with a branch. If Arlo accomplishes this, then he would earn his mark. Both set up a trap for the critter and Arlo is on watch. The trap captures the critter which turns out to be a caveman boy. Arlo is happy by scared at the same time. He grabs the branch and is about to crush the little boy but then feels bad and drops it. He lets the boy go and the boy grows at him like a dog. Arlo becomes terrified and runs off. The cave-boy runs off. Poppa finds out and gets upset with Arlo and both chase after the cave-boy. They run into a valley with a river following the mud tracks of the cave-boy, however, it starts to rain. The mud tracks begin to wash off which anger Poppa who rushes Arlo and gets frustrated with Arlo’s weakness and inability to catch up. However, both see it is futile to go after the young cave-boy and head back home. The journey back is interrupted by a storm which develops and causes the river to swell and rush fiercely. As both try to get to higher ground, Poppa is not able to climb up and is washed away. We then learn his fate when we see a tombstone on the farmland where he once tilled the soil. Arlo becomes depressed as Momma tries to do the job that Poppa did but struggles. Arlo tries to help but as he is storing corn, he notices that cobs are being thrown out of the storage tower. These cobs are eaten up. Arlo looks inside and sees the cave-boy there eating the corn. He becomes upset and tries to chomp the cave-boy, but the cave-boy gets away. Arlo chases him, but both fall into the river and get washed far away from their original position. The cave-boy escapes while Arlo finds himself back on land and tries to return home but is lost.
He tries to build a tent to cover himself from the rain but is unsuccessful. While trying to get berries from a tree by standing on a large rock, Arlo falls causing the rock to move and pin his hind leg. He tries desperately to free himself but cannot. However, he wakes up and finds that his leg was dug out from under the rock allowing him to take it out. Arlo notices that it was the cave-boy who dug his leg out and begins to search for him. He feels that his dad (Poppa) died because of the cave-boy and wants revenge, however, he starts to realize that the cave-boy is not bad. At first he wanted to crush the life out of the cave-boy, but changes. Both begin to befriend each other. The cave-boy brings Arlo an iguana to eat, but Arlo lets it get away. Then the cave-boy brings a large bug, but Arlo gets disgusted especially after the cave-boy rips his head off. However, when the cave-boy brings berries, this is when both begin to understand each other. In one scene, Arlo uses sticks and a circle to represent his family. The cave-boy understands and makes his own showing his parents died by burying the sticks representing them. Later on, both run into a triceratops who wants the cave-boy as a pet. He begins to name the cave-boy using different names and tells Arlo that if the cave-boy responds to a specific name that he gets to keep him. However, Arlo wins after the cave-boy responds to ‘Spot.’ The new friends grow closer and in one scene eat spoiled fruit and get ‘high.’ Both begin their journey back home to Arlo’s farm but run into pterodactyls. Arlo believes they are good but when one of them finds a fox and devours it, he realizes that they are just predators. These villainous dinosaurs smell Spot (cave-boy) and go after him in order to eat him, but Arlo defends him. They get chased by the pterodactyls but are defended by three tyrannosauruses. Arlo gets scared of them but realizes that they are looking for a herd.
Each party agrees to help each other from this point on. Arlo offers Spot’s ability to sniff in order to help them find their herd. He is successful. The tyrannosauruses find the herd and agree to help Arlo get back home by following the river. Arlo’s father had told him to always follow the river in order to get back home. As the dinosaurs are herding large buffalos, they run into feathered raptors who attack them. Arlo beings to gain courage and helps the tyrannosauruses fight them off. As they continue on their journey, Arlo sees the large mountain near his home and wants to part ways with the tyrannosaurus. They eventually do and Arlo and Spot head to find the river and find it. While there, both run into other cavemen. Spot tries to approach them, but Arlo stops him because he did not want to be alone. They continue on their way but then run into the pterodactyls again who attack and take Spot away to eat him. Arlo tries to rescue him but falls down a cliff and gets stuck in vines. As he tries to get himself free, he bangs his head and becomes unconscious. He then sees his father Poppa free him. Arlo hugs him and believes Poppa was still alive. Poppa proceeds to walk back home and Arlo follows him but then realizes that he has to save Spot. Arlo stops, but Poppa continues walking. He yells ‘Poppa’ but Poppa continues walking. Arlo is confused as to why his dad is ignoring him, but he realizes that he is making footprints in the mud while Poppa is not. Arlo realizes that this is his dad’s spirit or ghost.
He tells Poppa that he has to go help Spot because he loves him. Poppa stops and turns around smiling and tells him that he knew Arlo had it in him and that Arlo was like him and even more. At that, Poppa begins to dissipate. Arlo wakes up empowered and goes after Spot to rescue him. He finds the pterodactyls trying to eat Spot and rescues him. However, a storm comes again and the waters begin to rise. Arlo becomes scared after being traumatized because that was the way he lost his father. Nevertheless, he faces his fear and continues with the rescue. However, the river swells and both he and Spot get washed away and fall over a waterfall. They both survive and come ashore. After recovering, both head back to Arlo’s farm but run into the cavemen again. This time, Arlo pushes Spot to go with them and not continue the journey with him. Spot does not understand and returns to Arlo. However, Arlo pushes him back and draws a circle around him and the other cavemen. Spot then understands that Arlo wanted him to go with that family. Spot does, but becomes emotional and embraces Arlo. They part ways and Arlo returns home. His mother is working the field and sees Arlo and runs after him to embrace him. Arlo then puts his print on the tower showing that he earned his mark.
This movie was very powerful and deep indeed. As I stated in the beginning, it was a bit heavy for kids. I was not expecting the movie to show death, vore and violence in the way that it did. In fact, I was expecting the movie to be silly/cartoonish like the Minions or Madagascar. The movie is very well made in my opinion, however, I think the tearing off of the bug’s head, the eating of the fox, the violent scenes and the death of Arlo’s dad was a bit too much for kids to process. I noticed adults were crying. My own nephew got a bit emotional as well and was shocked when he saw the vorish scenes. This movie will definitely start a conversation in the car or at home. The movie shows the importance of family, friends, perseverance and standing up for oneself. The Good Dinosaur is a movie for older kids 8+ in my opinion. Parents of younger kids should weigh their options based on how mature their kids are. The movie reminded me a bit of The Land Before Time which was also a heavy movie and a tear jerker, so to speak. This movie is good to start a conversation about the death of a loved one which is inevitable in our species as well as a good way to teach kids to believe in themselves, keep trying, have a support system and be themselves while at the same time cooperating with others.
It is a bit of a ‘coming of age’ film. Prior to the film, we saw Sanjay’s Super Team which I found interesting. This short film highlighted an Indian boy and his father. The boy is caught up in a television show about a superhero while his dad is trying to get him to pray their Hindu prayers. The boy is reluctant until the father shuts the TV off. Both knee before their shrine and being to pray, however, the boy becomes distracted and bored. He then fantasizes with the gods of Hinduism fighting a demon like character. After that scene is over, we see the father looking at the boy with a sad face. He is troubled because his son does not seem interested in their faith. However, the boy shows the father his art book where he drew the Hindu gods as superheroes. The father and his son then enjoy the art. This short film I felt was a good way for parents to understand that kids perceive things differently. We have to be careful how to introduce prayer and faith to them. It must not be so rigid and formal that it bores a kid. The kid in the short film did not understand the Hindu ritual, but at least he understood it his way by drawing the gods as heroes. In closing, overall, The Good Dinosaur was a good film to watch. My only issues were the scenes that were a bit too much for kids to really process as well as the drug scene where both become ‘high.’ Some psychologists believe parents should not shield their kids from reality while others say parents must keep their kids in their own world until they are ready. Parents know their kids better than anyone else, so to me it makes sense for parents to decide how to present the ‘facts of life’ to their kids. The Good Dinosaur touches on such ‘facts of life’ such as death and surviving this harsh world.