Director: Peter Sohn
Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Frances McDormand
Spoilers Within: No
Originally posted 7th February 2016 on Letterboxd.
Growing up as a human child, I found obsessions in the conventional: space; things that went ‘vroom’; things that went ‘bang’; and dinosaurs. One specific love of mine that predated the love of Jurassic Park was Don Bluth’s The Land Before Time, a film that has given me life-long mourning for Littlefoot and his family at the hands of that son-of-bitch Sharptooth.
Twenty-five plus years later and the main thing that’s changed since my centennial viewing of that heartbreaking animation is that I no longer wear Cera-shaped slippers, yet my fondness for all things dinosaur still remains. It was with genuine surprise that Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur gave me the adult equivalent to the understanding of love and loss, all encased in a staggeringly beautiful animation that had me viewing through an authentic blanket of tears (specifically, but not limited to, the moment in which Arlo and Spot lament their lost parents with literal sticks and stones).
It begs huge credit that Peter Sohn and co. decided to keep Spot a mute caveboy, making him human through his countenance and howlings rather than with verbalised one-liners. This approach (much like other personal favourites How to Train Your Dragon and Lilo and Stitch) gives the film’s emotional core extra impact, even in spite of its simplistic message and by-the-numbers journey. The beautiful ending more than makes up for some of the stuttering that the story takes to get there.
Whilst it’s not been as widely received, universally adored, or even written about in lengthy essays, it shouldn’t be ignored in favour of it’s 2015 Pixar counterpart Inside Out, but rather cherished alongside it as an ode to the gorgeous construct of family, whether dino, or caveman.