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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dinosaur is a Disney film set in prehistoric times that is filled with battles to the death, vicious predators, and heroes frequently in danger from both nature and enemy species. The filmmakers use spooky music, very dark settings, and ferocious roars to heighten the intensity. Alternating with survival-of-the-fittest sequences are ones set in a world of beauty and accessibility featuring warmhearted dinosaur heroes and comic, loving lemurs. It's an odd combination of scary and likeable -- not for very young or easily frightened kids.
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What's the story?
In DINOSAUR, Aladar is an orphan iguanodon raised by monkey-like lemurs. When flaming meteors destroy their home, they join a group of dinosaurs trying to find food and water. The leader of the group, Kron, insists that stopping to help the older or slower dinosaurs is too dangerous. But Aladar shows the others that cooperation, teamwork, and kindness make more sense because then everyone gets a chance to contribute.
Is it any good?
Disney worked very hard to make sure that the faces of the dinosaurs were expressive, but should have worked a little harder on giving them some more complex and subtle emotions to express. Aladar just is not that interesting a character. Even in a movie for kids, it's not enough for the characters to overcome some external challenge. What makes a story get into your heart is seeing the characters learn and grow and overcome internal challenges. It is a marvel of skill, but does not have half of the heart or wit of the Toy Story movies or A Bug's Life.
The technological mastery of Dinosaur is dazzling to watch, though, especially the textures. Fur, scales, eggshell, water, and goo are all so vivid you can almost feel them. It is a shame that the story and characters are not as strong as the visuals, though that will be more of a problem for adults than kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the narrator in Dinosaur says that "sometimes the smallest thing can make the biggest changes of all." What is the "smallest thing," and what are the changes?
Families may also want to talk about how the lemurs decide to "adopt" the huge dinosaur, and about how some species are intolerant of others.
How does being treated with kindness change the way some of the characters behave? How does making Baylene feel needed change the way she behaves?
- In theaters: May 19, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: January 30, 2001
- Cast: D.B. Sweeney, Hayden Panettiere, Julianna Margulies
- Directors: Eric Leighton, Ralph Zondag
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Adventures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: intense images
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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