With animated favorites like Toy Story, Cars, Monsters, Inc., Brave, Finding Nemo, and more, one would expect that Disney Pixar’s latest movie would be filled heartwarming tales of family, friendship, and love in a visual masterpiece. Indeed The Good Dinosaur has those three things but parents expecting that this will be a feel-good movie for preschoolers and the early elementary set should know that the wonderful moments are punctuated by some very scary ones that could frighten young kids.
The movie opens with gorgeous scenery that reminded me of my recent trip to Northern Arizona and amid red rocks, canyons, and vast landscapes, we meet two Apatosaurus tending to their corn fields. This couple quickly becomes Momma and Poppa as their three eggs hatch in a scene a bit reminiscent of the The Good Dinosaur. However, there isn’t a T-Rex that joins Buck, Libby, and Arlo as part of the family.
Throughout the movie, it’s clear that this is a coming of age tale. Buck and Libby “make their mark” and are proud to be rewarded for jobs well done by stamping their footprint on the side of a stone silo made by their father as Arlo wonders when it might be his turn.
Arlo is given the task of ridding their corn fields of a critter who gobbles the corn in their silo. Without a full silo, the family won’t have enough food for the winter. One day the trap that Arlo sets catches the critter but out of compassion, he lets it go which leads to him and Poppa chasing it through a canyon as a storm brews overhead and the water rises in the river.
Dark storm clouds, lightning flashing overhead, and roaring water rushing towards Arlo and Poppa, is enough to terrify young viewers. We breathe a sigh of relief that Arlo is nudged to safety just in time (SPOILER ALERT) as Poppa is swept away by the river. For those of us who saw The Good Dinosaur as kids, this scene evokes the same feeling of having a parent taken from a child who is now alone in the world.
Now far away from home and separated from his family, Arlo is determined to follow his father’s advice and follow the river to find his way back to Momma. As he does, he becomes friends with the critter he tried to rid from their fields and it is through their journey home that Arlo makes his mark.
Pixar’s visuals The Good Dinosaur are pure eye candy but this movie is best for kids who won’t be frightened by the death of a parent, being alone in the world, and pterodactyl bullies who threaten Arlo and Spot repeatedly. There is also a moment where Arlo and Spot consume rotten fruit consumed during their journey and experience drunken and hallucinogenic effects. To determine if The Good Dinosaur is right for your family, visit The Good Dinosaur for their review that will offer another opinion.
Younger dinosaur loving kids who are attracted to the trailers would enjoy meeting Arlo, his friend Spot, and the Apatosaurus family through Good Dinosaur Storybook Deluxe. Inspired by the movie, this is a more age appropriate way to enjoy an adventure with Arlo through an interactive retelling that features animations on each of the 35 pages.
Games in the various settings with creatures that Arlo and Spot encounter along the way are also fun ways to interact with Good Dinosaur content in a far less scary way. Good Dinosaur Storybook Deluxe is available for iOS and Android devices for $4.99.
My family received complimentary tickets to a screening of The Good Dinosaur and a redemption code to try Good Dinosaur Storybook Deluxe. All opinions are my own.