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Review: Amiable ‘Dinosaur’ delivers solid family fare

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“The Good Dinosaur” is a perfectly fine animated kids’ movie. There’s nothing wrong with it and a great deal right with it, but it’s a lot less ambitious than the last film from Pixar, the consciousness-exploring wild ride “Inside Out.”

Still, families will, and should, flock to this not-so-gentle tale of a dinosaur and his boy on a road trip. The animation is appropriately wondrous, the landscape is filled with startling, eccentric creatures, and the story, if occasionally harrowing and dark in a “Lion King” way, is essentially sweet and uplifting.

That story begins on earth 65 million years ago, so creationists beware. Remember that meteor that was supposed to hit earth and wipe out all the dinosaurs? In this telling, the meteor misses, so a few million years later, when human types start to pop up, the dinosaurs are still around.

More than that, they’re farming. And so we come upon Arlo and his family, corn growers. Arlo is sort of a runty green brontosaurus, clumsy and fearful. One day his kindly father puts him in charge of trapping and killing a critter that has been stealing the corn. When the trap springs, Arlo has captured a human wild-boy. He ends up setting it free.

Then tragedy strikes Arlo’s family. In the wake of it, he spies the boy again and gives chase. Being clumsy, he falls into a river and, with the boy, gets swept far away. After a series of calamities, Arlo teams up with the boy, who he names Spot, and Arlo tries to make his way home. Spot is essentially Arlo’s dog.

There are scary confrontations, kooky characters, and a sentimental ending you see coming from a mile away. But this is Pixar, and the visual delights are many — mountainscapes that look absolutely real, tiny creatures that flit by in a moment of wonder — and the 3-D is, for once, worth the price. OK, it’s not pushing the boundaries of storytelling, but it certainly does the job.

tlong@detroitnews.com

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‘The Good Dinosaur’

GRADE: B

Rated PG for peril, action

and thematic elements