(PG) Directed by Peter Sohn
Voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Elliott

by Ben McEachen

Stories have been around since T-Rex was a lad, so it's a bit rich to expect new species to emerge. But Pixar's latest all-ages expedition doesn't bust a gut to cover its familiar tracks.

Aimed politely at the pre-school market and their entourage, The Good Dinosaur is The Lion King redux. You know, with dinosaurs.

Perhaps post-millenial youngsters know not of Simba and his circle of life, warranting the Disney machine to support Pixar pilfering that popular tale. Or, having released Inside Out during the same 12 month period, maybe the animation powerhouse spent its annual quota of creative capital.

A long, long time ago, little apatosaurus Arlo (voice of Raymond Ochoa) is a scaredy cat who, obviously, is going to have to face his fears. Inevitably, he washes up alone and must find his way home through the obstacles and life lessons you'd expect.

Surrounded by photo-real landscapes of subtle majesty, Arlo is accompanied on his travels by a primitive boy who behaves like a loyal dog. If their amiable relationship is an ironic jab at where we have evolved to, such layered meaning gets short shrift. Instead, The Good Dinosaur strides unambitiously as a simple Simba story whose “make your mark” message is as benign as it is under-articulated.

This review was first published by Rolling Stone. Click here to check out more reviews.