Harrison and Matt look at the other Pixar film that came out this year.
Harrison: Okay, so now me and Matt are going to be reviewing The Good Dinosaur. Yay! So, The Good Dinosaur has been notoriously plagued by production problems; that was alliteration. They go quite a long way back, we’re talking years not like months, and I kinda want to avoid talking about that too much because I don’t know the details and I can’t really speculate on how it affected the film. I don’t know for sure. This background is there, it’s had production problems, but now it’s here – and all we can definitely say is it’s the second Pixar film release this year and pretty much definitely the weakest.
Matt: Yeah, definitely.
Harrison: That’s true, but that’s not to say it’s bad. So the plot, it’s basically a mash-up of Finding Nemo and Ice Age, if you think about it, because for a start it’s about a human boy who travels with a prehistoric creature to them both to find their way home. That’s Ice Age. More or less the same. As for Finding Nemo you got the very similar structure to Finding Nemo because it’s this journey and along the way they meet these secondary characters in the same way that you know they meet the turtles in Finding Nemo or the sharks in Finding Nemo, and it’s a coming-of-age story about a dinosaur called Arlo, who is the titular good dinosaur, and it’s a coming-of-age story about him learning to like make his mark on the world and it’s a journey. A journey for him to find his home. What did you think?
Matt: I thought it was, I want to say I was disappointed by it but it was more that it did exactly what I thought it would do, where it was ok. Which is, I suppose it’s not bad thing. I thought what you were saying about the plot and about the Finding Nemo thing, I thought that kind of similarity to other films was something that kind of popped up quite a lot in it. There were lots of bits to it that were just kind of rewritten from other films. Like the best scene in the film, pretty much, is this kind of moment
of like voiceless emotion, there’s no talking and it’s really powerful… but it’s basically just Wall-E. It’s basically just that whole idea.
Harrison: Yeah, they do. I mean there’s you no scene in Wall-E that’s the same, but it’s very Wall-E-esque. I can see what you mean. Yeah the biggest problem with it is that, if you think of Pixar in their golden years, is that they were kind of champions of originality and doing these fresh innovative things, and this just feels like if I didn’t know it was Pixar I would have thought it was from one of the Pixar imitators.
Harrison: It looks beautiful, or half of it looks beautiful. The backgrounds are rendered in this really photorealistic way, they
look like they could be live-action Would you agree with that? Particularly even like the water is probably the best animated water I’ve ever seen, but then they place in this photo realistic environment – very cartoonish character models. Which I was saying, and I know a lot of people said this so I don’t want to harp on about it too much, but I thought it was a little jarring. You weren’t that bothered by it were you?
Matt: It didn’t add anything to the film, the juxtaposition but it didn’t take anything for me.
Harrison: I just kind of think that they should have picked one, like even if it was to pick the cartoonish route and have the backgrounds cartoonish as well, just so it’s consistent. Because I would frequently be like looking at these amazing backdrops in a shot that was just a landscape shot, and then a character would walk into it and it would really take me out of it for a second. To come back to what you talked about with the dialogue-less moment. All of the best moments in the film I think were
dialogue-less, be they emotional or the comedic moments. The best comedic moments were the physical comedy moments rather than the ones that relied
on dialogue, and I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that Pixar have to
make films that don’t have dialogue, but I just think the dialogue
wasn’t up to scratch here as much as the visuals were at times. The secondary characters are all cool. I think that’s like a thing Pixar do well, they’ve always got really good secondary characters, and some of them here are really good. There’s a triceratops with parrots and birds on him and… he was funny, I liked him. There are the T-Rex’s but they’re just the Sharks from Finding Nemo.
Matt: But not as good.
Harrison: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: Characterless, shallow.
Harrison: One of my problems was that I didn’t like Arlo. I thought he was really annoying and whiny. He never did anything but whine and I found him very difficult to sympathize with after a point because all he ever did was make things worse and complain.
Matt: Yeah, well to retouch for the third time on the voiceless, I think Spot was the best character, maybe because he was voiceless so they were forced to be more creative. In the way that they made him express himself.
Harrison: As we were saying the films about Arlo, the dinosaur, and Spot’s the little boy that he takes with him and the kind of reverse the “boy and his dog” formula, because in this case the dinosaur is the humanized one and Spot’s like a dog, he acts like a dog. This is all because a meteor missed Earth and dinosaurs have been allowed to evolve to the point where they run farms and things, which took me a long time to kind of understand why they were running farms and then I remembered it’s because the meteor missed and they’ve evolved to the point where they’re like taking part in agriculture – and thought it was really weird and I kept forgetting it all the way through the film. I was like “why are the dinosaurs like ranches? Why are they herding cattle? Why are cows around? Or whatever they were, wildebeest?
Harrison: Bison, yeah. Then I remembered that it’s because we’re in this “different world”, that history is changed.
Matt: I quite liked all that stuff I thought it was quite interesting.
Harrison: Yeah it was good, I just kept forgetting. Like, it made the point at the beginning and then never really touched on it again and I just forgot. It’s also a little – because it’s kind of cartoonish and we said compared to some of Pixar’s other films, almost babyish?
Harrison: – and then there are these moments of really bizarre darkness, ever so occasionally.
Matt: Yeah it’s a strange juxtaposition. For the most part it’s quite a childish film, it’s much more of a film for kids than most Pixar films, and then every now and then you have… like there’s a scene where they eat these rotten peaches on the floor-
Harrison: That bit is surreal.
Matt: – and they get really drunk or really high, and have a hallucination scene.
Harrison: It’s intense!
Matt: They swap heads and stuff…
Harrison: Doesn’t one of them like open their mouth and the dinosaurs start coming out of his mouth?!
Matt: It was a really funny scene, but I can imagine that you take a child to it and it would kind of break the child a little bit…
Harrison: There’s like heads being torn off of living creatures and things, but then it was back to being quite sickly cute.
Matt: Yeah, yeah there’s quite a bit of violence to it. You get this cute little creature that they saved from a log… and then eat him… tear him
apart. It’s literally like a nature documentary where they’re fighting over the little thing.
Harrison: – and it is kind of, it’s like a person. It has like a human personality, it’s not just an animal, so it’s quite disturbing. Should we go to ratings? Do you wanna go first?
Matt: I think I did I really like the visuals and even though the story wasn’t very original, it wasn’t bad. I don’t think there was anything particularly bad about the film. So I think I’ll probably go for a 7.
Harrison: Ok, yeah, I agree with that in the sense that there’s no element of it I think “that was really really bad.” It’s just nothing about it was really really good apart from the odd moment. I also thought that the narrative just kept starting and stopping, it’s very episodic because of the way that it’s just a journey, so I’d give it a six I think. Because, you know, it’s not Inside Out and I think it’s always going to be remembered as the film that was not Inside Out in the year that Inside Out came out. Cool.