The Good Dinosaur

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
The Good Dinosaur Movie Poster Image
Young dino braves nature in lovely but intense adventure.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 100 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 37 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Teaches worthy lessons about handling fear and being kind to others, but far from accurate in terms of prehistoric facts.

Positive messages

Family is valued above all else, even great friendship. Courage is an important theme. Fear is normal and healthy, but it shouldn't get in the way of living your life; you can get through it to see the beauty on the other side. Kindness, loyalty, encouragement, and resourcefulness are all important. You can make your mark by doing something bigger than yourself.

Positive role models & representations

Arlo must overcome his many fears in order to survive in foreign terrain against the threats and ravages of nature. His friend/pet human, Spot, shows Arlo kindness and loyalty and teaches him how to live off the land. Some strangers they meet are helpful and encouraging.

Violence & scariness

Many scenes of peril/danger, as well as loss. (Spoiler alert!) Arlo's father dies in a flood, and, shortly after, the younger dinosaur is separated from the rest of his family and must fend for himself in the wilderness; later audiences learn that Spot lost his family, too. Carnivorous predatory birds and dinosaurs (many with big, sharp teeth) menace Arlo and Spot; they get caught in a stampede as well. Major forces of nature -- including storms, floods, and treacherous mountain passes (all of which look very real) -- repeatedly put Arlo and Spot at mortal risk. Some fighting/hunting; Spot is fierce and fearless, and at one point he rips the head off of a beetle he captures.

Sexy stuff
Language

"Dang," "shoot," one "bull" that almost sounds like the start of a stronger word.

Consumerism

No actual products within the film, but lots of off-line marketing/licensing tie-ins, from books and apps to a wide variety of toys, clothes, and much more.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Famished Arlo and Spot eat some fermented fruit, get altered/drunk (they hallucinate), and wake up with hangovers. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Good Dinosaur -- Pixar's lush animated prehistoric saga that successfully melds Finding Nemo and E.T. -- has stunning visuals, moments of clever humor, strong messages about loyalty and bravery, and many scenes of danger, trauma, and peril that are likely to frighten younger/more sensitive viewers. (Spoiler alert!) Apatosaurus Arlo is separated from his family after a severe storm/flash flood claims his father's life (a series of events that could definitely upset kids); plus, carnivorous, sharp-toothed beasts attack Arlo and his human friend, Spot; more storms bring destruction and deadly threats; and the heroes barely survive a dangerous ride down a waterfall -- which is all the more intense because the film's settings look extremely real. Arlo's many fears and desperation to get home will certainly make some kids anxious; be ready to reassure them. There's also a scene in which Arlo and Spot scarf down fermented fruit, seem to get a little drunk (they hallucinate), and then wake up with headaches. Editor's Note: Sanjay's Super Team, the animated short that runs before the film in theaters, has moments that are very intense and scary, with a fiery, frightening bad guy.

User Reviews

Parent Written byphilmiler November 25, 2015

Unbelievably SAD and gloomy. Terrible for small kids.

Children were crying and leaving the theater. My little one asked me to never see it again. The movie's message is beatiful but it's not for young kid...
Parent Written bypprl November 28, 2015

terrible movie for kids

Ugh. This is a terrible movie for kids. I forgot that Disney cannot manage to tell an interesting story without killing off a loved one. The father doesn...
Kid, 7 years old December 6, 2015

This Movie Was AWFUL!!

I am 7 and I really love Disney movies but this one THE WORST! First, there were a LOT of REALLY GROSS things in the movie like bug heads getting ripped off and...
Teen, 13 years old Written bySinging51833 November 27, 2015

Scary

I went to this movie with 6 cousins ages 4,5, and six. About 15 minutes in, 3 of them left. By the end, it was just me and my mom. This movie is scary for young...

What's the story?

THE GOOD DINOSAUR is a tale of friendship, longing for family, and overcoming fears that takes place in an alternate-history timeline before man began to have a serious impact on Earth. Timid young dinosaur Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is separated from his family and must travel a long, treacherous path home, learning to feed himself and deflect predators. He does so with the help of a resourceful, independent wild child he calls Spot (Jack Bright); the filmmakers get around scientific evidence that dinosaurs and man never co-existed by showing the meteor that supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs taking a wrong turn and missing Earth. The underlying narrative tells the story of a lost ecological balance, when ruthless nature was in charge, with devastating turbulence and unpredictability. Predators and destructive storms lurk around every corner, waiting to flatten even the bravest. Ultimately Arlo learns that although fear is normal and healthy, it shouldn't get in the way of living your life. 

Is it any good?

This visually beautiful, emotionally authentic tale about a young dinosaur who experiences loss and struggles to find his way home will entrance kids and parents alike. Pixar's gorgeous animation places The Good Dinosaur's talking animals (and human) in photo-realistic natural settings that are nearly indistinguishable from actual forests, rivers, and mountains. (In fact, the images' reality could add to the scariness for young children during storms and other scenes of threat.)

Great visual moments come out of Spot’s lack of spoken language skills. The best example? Arlo, who can talk, explains the concept of family by setting representative stick figures in the sand and drawing a circle of closeness around them. Spot takes it further by doing the same and then throwing burial sand over the sticks to communicate that he's now alone in the world. But ultimately, he's not -- he has Arlo, and Arlo has him, and their friendship is a solid core for another excellent, if intense, Pixar adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we can overcome our fears. Is it OK to be afraid of things? How do you know if you're too afraid of something? Does it help to face scary things with a friend or family? What does it take to "get through" something you're scared of? Do you think The Good Dinosaur is scary?

  • Why do we sometimes enjoy watching scary movies or shows? How much "scary stuff" can young kids handle?

  • What's the movie's message about friendship and family? What matters most in life? What do Arlo and Spot learn from each other?

  • How does The Good Dinosaur tweak history? Did dinosaurs and early man really exist on Earth at the same time? Do you think it's OK to change facts for movies? How could you find out more about what really happened to the dinosaurs?

  • How do the characters in The Good Dinosaur demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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