The Land Before Time
By Common Sense Media,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Original baby-dinosaur buddy tale has scares, sadness.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Introduces various species of dinosaurs, providing simple-to-understand information about species, habitat, family, and survival.
Promotes teamwork, unselfishness, interspecies tolerance, resourcefulness, and perseverance. Clear references are made to "the circle of life." Although he's told that dinosaurs stick with their own kind, Littlefoot is a friend to everyone. Individual strengths are important to the group's success and survival. Illustrates power of family relationships throughout animal kingdom. Additional themes include compassion and courage.
Positive Role Models
Littlefoot is friendly to everyone, sticks to his task, and makes wise choices. Parents are shown as responsible, caring, and wise. Baby pterodactyl Petrie finds flying too difficult but with courage finally achieves it. Stubborn Cera thinks she doesn't need any help from anyone else but sees that she does need her friends and they need her, too.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent cartoon action and violence: Carnivorous Sharpteeth (Tyrannosaurus rex) are predators who continually chase, menace, and attempt to kill the young heroes. Little Foot and company are faced with separation from family, earthquakes, rock slides, falls, volcano eruptions, fire, and constant fear of the predators. In one, early fierce battle, Little Foot's mother is killed. The little dinosaur grieves for her. His sadness and belief in her spirit play an important part in his journey.
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Products & Purchases
Original movie generated an active franchise, which includes television, DVDs, toys, related merchandise.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Land Before Time is a funny, character-rich story with adorable heroes to root for as they make a long journey to find a land of plenty. The film offers lots of introductory information about dinosaurs -- species, the planet as it was when they lived, their fight for survival. Kids who watch this movie should be clear and comfortable with pretend violence versus real violence. The young dinos face scary, sharp-toothed, roaring predators who chase them with an intent to kill in multiple sequences. They are at risk from natural disasters as well: earthquakes, a volcanic eruption, rock slides, and fire. The sad death of a parent after a battle early in the film and the separation of several young dinosaurs from their families are important to the story. None of the young heroes is hurt, and the tale is happily resolved. Released in 1988, this film became a full-fledged toy franchise with DVDs, television, sequels, and a wide variety of associated products.
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The Land Before Time
Based on 24 parent reviews
My whole childhood- a very honest review.
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Too much trauma for young kids
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What's the Story?
In THE LAND BEFORE TIME, while scores of dinosaurs are on the move to find food during a massive drought, a baby long-necked dinosaur is born. His mom and grandparents coo and ahh and name him Littlefoot (Gabriel Damon). When a rambunctious little three-horned dinosaur named Cera (Candace Hutson) tries to engage the newborn in play, Littlefoot's family discourages him from consorting with her kind of dinosaur. But the kid dinosaurs must unite when a ferocious T. rex kills Littlefoot's mother and an earthquake creates a massive schism separating them from loved ones. Littlefoot and Cera are joined by Petrie, Ducky, and Spike in their journey to the Great Valley, where food and families are sure to await them.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is a very simple, nicely animated story that gives kids some perky characters to follow and shows them the earth as it was when dinosaurs roamed. Viewers see how changes in the earth's climate forced dinosaurs to roam long distances to find food and how earthquakes, volcanoes, and even other dinosaurs made survival difficult. Solid, well-illustrated messages (the "circle of life" is affirmed, anticipating the central precept of The Lion King), as well as comedy and camaraderie, make The Land Before Time a delightful family-friendly film with a happy ending, so long as the kids are ready for the darker elements as well.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about dinosaurs in The Land Before Time. When did they live? What happened to them? Why are we so fascinated with them?
Why is friendship so important to the characters? How do they each contribute to their group?
Follow up watching the movie with a trip to the natural history museum. What else can you find out about dinosaurs?
Which dinosaur is your favorite? Why?
How do the characters in The Land Before Time demonstrate perseverance and teamwork? What about compassion and courage? Why are those important character strengths?
- In theaters: November 18, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: December 30, 2003
- Cast: Candace Hutson, Judith Barsi, Will Ryan
- Director: Don Bluth
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Adventures, Friendship, Science and Nature
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 70 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: all audiences
- Last updated: March 30, 2023
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