A closer look at… The Good Dinosaur

© Disney, 2015.
© Disney, 2015.

This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers.  children The Good Dinosaur is rated PG for mild threat, violence.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – An endearing but ultimately somewhat forgettable Pixar offering

What if the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs had missed? The Good Dinosaur imagines an alternative pre-history in which dinosaurs have evolved to become the dominant species on earth. Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), a timid young Apatosaurus, helps out his parents and siblings on their farm. But his fears stop him from truly taking his place in the family.

Then tragedy strikes, and Arlo finds himself lost a long way from home. He’ll need all of his courage – and the help of his unexpected friend Spot (Jack Bright) – to find his way back.

Our Take

Pterodactyl cults, a paranoid Triceratops, a snake with arms, T-Rex cowboys, and the trippiest Disney scene since Dumbo. Well that was… bizarre.

Weird isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and some of Pixar’s best films centre around concepts that sound bonkers on paper. But an out-there story concept needs the right emotional anchor, and The Good Dinosaur just doesn’t have the same depth or subtlety as films like Up and Inside Out. Darker moments aside the script feels pitched towards a younger audience, and the protagonist’s journey follows story beats familiar from other, better Disney films.

That said, Spot is an utterly delightful creation, and the dialogue-free scenes between him and Arlo capture a magic which is missing elsewhere. And the animation is jaw-dropping: even if its characters don’t feel convincing, The Good Dinosaur‘s landscape is something to immerse yourself in.

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© Disney, 2015.

Dig Deeper

For Kids children

Where am I? Where’s home? – Arlo

  • Did you enjoy the film, and why, or why not? Who was your favourite character, and what was your favourite scene?
  • How does The Good Dinosaur measure up against previous Disney and Pixar films, or other childrens’ classics? In your opinion, what were some of the film’s strengths and weaknesses? Which age group do you think the film is aimed at?
  • How did you feel about Arlo and his family? What is Arlo like when we meet him at the beginning of the film?
  • Why does Arlo want to ‘make his mark’ like the rest of the family? Why is it so hard for him to do what his parents ask?

You’ve gotta earn your mark by doing something big, for something bigger than yourself. – Henry (Jeffrey Wright)

  • How did you feel when Arlo was separated from his family? What were some of the scariest moments of his journey for you? Did you feel OK at the end of the story?
  • How is Spot a good friend to Arlo? How does Spot react to scary situations, and what can Arlo learn from him? How might it help to have brave friends when we’re not feeling brave?
  • What does Arlo learn on his journey, and how has he changed by the end of the story? Why does he let Spot go to his new family? Did the film teach you anything about being brave?

 

I’m scared. But Spot needs me. – Arlo

dino

For Adults

  • How did you react to the film’s portrayal of family and of parenting? In your view, how should children be encouraged to overcome their fears? Do you think Arlo’s parents went about it in the right way?

Sometimes you gotta get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side. – Henry

  • How emotionally resonant did you find The Good Dinosaur‘s story? Which scenes were the most memorable for you, and why? In your view, did the film’s incredible animated landscapes distract from its emotional impact, or add to it?
  • How far do you think childrens’ films should go in their portrayal of danger, death and darkness? Many people cite the deaths of Mufasa and of Bambi’s mother as watershed childhood moments; do you think that the tragedy in The Good Dinosaur ranks alongside these?
© Disney, 2015.
© Disney, 2015.

Read More

‘Best idea wins’: how Pixar grew up

The Good Dinosaur, reviewed by a 7-year-old

Interview: Director Peter Sohn Talks ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Published by

Sophie Lister

Damaris resources bring films to new audiences, start conversations, and enrich lives. Find out more at www.damarismedia.com Here at the Damaris Film Blog, we publish regular discussion guides to help you make the most of the latest cinema releases.

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