Stephen David Miller

Startup cofounder, AI researcher, podcaster, person, etc.

Review: The Good Dinosaur

Normally I’d start one of these reviews with a preface about Pixar, but The Good Dinosaur isn’t a Pixar movie by any reasonable standard. It’s hardly a movie at all. It’s supplementary material for a killer SIGGRAPH paper about rendering flowing water and photorealistic landscapes. Some intern found the demo reel on a hard drive, rigged a few models from an abandoned Toy Story spin-off (“Rex and the City”), and outsourced the narrative to an alien whose understanding of pathos consisted of Land Before Time sequels, the Ice Age video game, and scattered Wild Thornberrys reruns.

I can’t speak for the kids; Pixar probably had them at “talking dinosaurs.” To an adult viewer, though, there are only two redeeming qualities here: gorgeous scenery and Sam Elliott. The rest is pure filler. It’s a limp remix of every Disney movie, with gratingly-one-dimensional characters, a defiantly half-baked universe, and powerful themes of “be brave, or hopeful, or I don’t know, maybe run around through some bushes or something.” Vaguely cute things happen for 90 minutes, then it ends. The message, if there is one, is the polar opposite of Brad Bird’s Randian “some people are special” motif: some people just aren’t special or interesting, but if they stay alive long enough the bar might be lowered to include them. If nothing else, it’s good to see Pixar practice what it preaches here. The bar can’t get much lower.

Having not seen Cars 2, I’m calling this as the worst Pixar movie to date. Chris and I had a surprisingly fun, and mercifully brief, conversation on last week’s mini-episode.

See my review on Letterboxd