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THE BFG (Blu-ray combo)

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bfgcoverGrade: C+/B-
Entire family: Yes (with a caveat)
2016, 117 min., Color
Disney
Rated PG for action, peril, some scary moments, and brief rude humor
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: B+
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Trailer
Amazon link

Decades from now, film historians may refer to 2016 as a milestone year for Disney—the year the studio entered a new age in producing live-action/animated fantasy adventures, with The Jungle Book coming out in April, The BFG premiering in July, and Pete’s Dragon debuting in August. All three films are impressive for kicking it up a notch in creating convincingly realistic CGI creatures that seamlessly interact with actors in real-life settings.

But the films aren’t equally successful. The runaway leader of the pack was the remake of the 1967 Kipling adaptation of Mowgli’s adventures, with the remake of the 1977 live-action/animation musical-comedy featuring Elliot the dragon close behind. Less bfgscreen1successful is The BFG, which producer-director Steven Spielberg adapted from the Roald Dahl book. Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison (E.T.) chose to stay reasonably close to the structure of the original book, trusting that the special effects and the magical world described by Dahl and rendered by them would be enough to sustain audiences. And it is . . . until a talky first act with a giant dose of giant gibberish starts to get a little old. Interest picks up mid-way when the giant and child companion offer to help the Queen solve Britain’s disappearing children problem, but a third act pushes toward a tidy fabulist ending that almost feels anticlimactic. In other words, E.T. it’s not.

This is a PG-rated family film, though in true Fee-fi-fo-fum fashion a gang of bully giants bigger than the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) apparently EAT children, which they call “beans.” Not the BFG, though. He likes children, which is why he grabs young orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and transports her from London to the land of giants. It’s also why he shares with her his dream collection and takes her with him to harvest new dreams.

As gentle as this giant is, the whole giants-eating-kids thing and what amounts to a kidnapping might be upsetting to some children, especially since the giants look so gosh-darned real. bfgscreen2Their skin, their movement, their hair and facial expressions all look as palpable as anything in the actual world. Though Disney has been making blends of animation and live action since The Reluctant Dragon was released in 1941, this year really does mark a new level of CGI achievement . . . or maybe usage is the more appropriate word. Walt Disney used to let perfection be his guide, not cost, and it’s in that spirit that today’s Disney studio operatives have applied CGI techniques normally reserved for sure-fire summer blockbusters to lesser films, so that they are now the new norm. The exception has become the rule, and what was once clearly an animation is now sometimes difficult to tell.

With The BFG, it helps to be a Dahl fan. The average person may be momentarily charmed by the fabricated language the giant speaks—things like “Troublehumper,” “Skitter scatter, boys,” “How absolutely squiffling,” “My little frogglefrump,” and “Bugwinkles!”—but it can grow old. Same with the relentless whimsical background score by John Williams, the overly long sequences and the characters themselves. I suspect that younger viewers—the main audience for this one—will wish for more action scenes with the gang of giants and fewer sequences with just the girl and the BFG. It’s when more characters are involved that this film perks up.

Even then, as my teenage son said, any Disney film that resorts to gibberish and farting humor (in Disney’s defense, it’s in the book!) doesn’t deserve a good grade. The BFG falls in the cracks somewhere between a C and a B. It’s the kind of film you appreciate for its technical wizardry but maybe don’t like as much as you think you should.

YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968) (Blu-ray)

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yoursmineandourscoverGrade: B-
Entire family: Yes
1968, 111 min., Color
Olive Films
Not rated (would be PG for mild language and innuendo)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Featured audio: DTS 2.0 Mono
Bonus features: n/a
Trailer
Amazon link

In 1968, a year before The Brady Bunch charmed television audiences, two blended family movies played in theaters: With Six You Get Eggroll, starring Doris Day and Brian Keith, and Yours, Mine and Ours, with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as the parents. The latter was popular enough to spark a less successful 2005 remake (with Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid). Of them all, the original Yours, Mine and Ours is the best—partly because of a decent script by committee, partly because of the stars’ steady performances, and partly because it’s based on a real story.

yoursmineandoursHelen North was a Navy wife whose husband was killed in an air crash when she was 30 and pregnant with their eighth child. When she married Navy Warrant Officer Frank Beardsley in 1961, her eight children were blended with his 10. And a year later, when each of them legally adopted the others’ brood, they made headlines for the largest group adoption in California history and ended up as guests of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Yours, Mine and Ours is based on her memoir, Who Gets the Drumstick.

Only a fraction of her story is recounted in the film, which focuses on the courtship between Helen and Frank, their marriage, and their attempts to raise 18 children together in the months leading up to that adoption. Though dated (what sixties’ movie isn’t?) Yours, Mine and Ours is still cute —and “cute” is the word that came to my wife and myself as we watched and sometimes laughed out loud.

It’s a little bit of a stretch to accept 57-year-old Ball and 63-year-old Fonda as fertile parents of these combined families, but the casting makes sense when you realize that Ball’s Desilu Productions bought the movie rights. Though the two of them are old enough to be the children’s grandparents, they still make for believable parents once you get over the initial shock. Fans of the old I Love Lucy series will find it interesting to watch Ball in a mostly seriocomic role, with only two scenes that feature slapstick/physical comedy—things that Ball did best. There’s a funny scene at a crowded bar, and later, when Frank brings Helen home to meet his children, the teenage boys (among them Tim Matheson of Animal House fame) put a little extra booze—make that a lot extra—in her drink. Ball, in that scene, evokes a few memories of her Season 2 episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial,” in which Lucy takes a little too much of the alcohol-based elixer Vitameatavegimin.

yoursmineandoursscreen2Fans of vintage TV will also smile seeing another TV dad, Tom Bosley (Happy Days) playing a doctor. If you’re a Brady Bunch fan, you’ll realize how many of the blended family situations came from this movie. The level of realism and believability is enough to offset anything corny or quaint comes from Yours, Mine and Ours being so wholesome and nearly 50 years old. It’s still enjoyable family fare, and because it is so dated looking it’s going to provide a nice touchstone for children to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same when it comes to family dynamics.

Aside from Matheson, the actors who play the children are believable but unremarkable, while the same could be said of the film’s minor characters—except for Van Johnson, a leading man who gets to play the sidekick this outing. Directed by Melville Shavelson—who got his experience shepherding stepparents and stepchildren in the Oscar-nominated romantic comedy Houseboat, starring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren—Yours, Mine and Ours is a wholesome, cute family movie. And age hasn’t diminished its cuteness one bit.

Age has, however, affected the print, which is a little rough in the opening. But the graininess gradually becomes less after the title sequence. Like the stars’ ages, once the film gets rolling you it all smoothes out, and the colors especially look rich in this HD presentation.

Language: Nothing here except literally a handful of “damns” and “hells”
Sex: Nothing here either, apart from a few phrases (“sex maniac”), a boy reading a Playboy, mild innuendo, and references to a boy who expects a teenage girl to “prove her love”
Violence: Just one scuffle and an implied schoolyard fight with a black eye to prove it
Adult situations: Aside from the innuendo, a few fertility jokes, and the drinking/drunkenness, nothing offensive
Takeaway: As old as Ball and Fonda seem at the beginning of the film, you quickly forget their ages and appreciate two professionals—two Hollywood legends—at work

FISHES ‘N LOAVES: HEAVEN SENT (DVD)

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Fishes'nLoavescoverGrade: C
Entire family: Yes
2016, 103 min., Color
Lionsgate
Rated PG for brief suggestive material
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: n/a
Includes: DVD, Digital
Trailer
Amazon link

Fishes ‘n loaves aside, I’m a sucker for fish-out-of-water stories, and the promotional description for this 2016 “comedy” made it sound promising:

“When his parish closes, a big-hearted California preacher is dispatched to a church in tiny Eufala, Arizona (pop. 4,521), a land of rodeos, square dances, love-struck-goats, and amateur musicals. Can Pastor Randy (Patrick Muldoon) and his loved ones keep their sanity long enough to inspire a community that’s gone astray?”

So I was primed and ready to experience Fishes ‘n Loaves: Heaven Sent, “a comedy of biblical proportions,” as the tagline described it. My wife thought it sounded cute, and my daughter was along for the ride.

But it wasn’t long before we started giving each other sidelong glances.

Funny how you don’t give casting a second thought until it seems wrong. And from the minute that Patrick Muldoon stood in front of a sparsely populated but really impressive church and delivered his sermon, I wasn’t believing him as a minister. He had the vibe of a business executive leading a team-building exercise, not someone who felt it his calling to tend to God’s flock. Dina Meyer also seemed far from what we think of when we think of preacher’s wives—a little too glam, a little too worldly, maybe. Their children were fine, though we all laughed that the family’s refrigerator is covered with alphabet magnets and the kids are in their teens. But details like that make a difference, and we had a hard time swallowing the “reality” that Fishes ‘n Loaves was serving. Stiff lines of dialogue didn’t help, nor did situational lines that seemed totally unbelievable. I mean, what teenage guy, upon meeting a teenage girl with his family standing right there next to him, would gush, “Gee, you’re pretty”?

Fishes'nLoavesscreen1So here’s where we’re at: Pastor Randy is told that they’re closing his parish—though the building is huge and in pristine condition, so there’s obviously money—and they want him to go to a tiny town in Arizona. His wife, meanwhile, wants him to work for her brother at his pizza place (something else I’m not buying, given the casting) and give up this preaching stuff. Really? One minute Pastor Randy is trying to decide how to tell his family they’re moving, and the next minute he’s mopping the floor of the pizza joint and looking like a mope. I just wasn’t believing his crisis of faith or the way they dealt with decisions in their relationship—at least the way that it was presented here. Did he really need a heavy-handed push from a homeless man named (wait for it) DeAngelis (Michael Emery), who basically explains to him the cliché that when God closes one door another one opens, or that God wants him to go to Arizona? No, but he (and we) get it anyway, and it adds an unnecessary layer of hokiness that even the normally ebullient Bruce Davison, as Pastor Ezekiel, can’t penetrate once the film relocates to its primarily rural setting.

But really, it all keeps coming back to casting. Even in Eufala, the assortment of characters lacks the charm and presence to make this city fish feel enough out of water to where it flops and squirms the way it needs to in order to make for successful comedy. Same with the hackneyed “talent auditions” that pop up in way too many movies.

Bottom line: for a comedy,  Fishes ‘n Loaves: Heaven Sent just isn’t that funny. What’s more, it falls short of being inspirational because the film’s trajectory is an overly simplistic line from Point A to Point B. (“You’ve taught us city folk the true meaning of how to love one another”). Even a similarly uncomplicated film like Miracles from Heaven does a better job of inspiring because of nuance, better writing, and (here’s that word again) casting.

Language: Squeaky clean
Sex: Same here
Violence: n/a
Adult situations: Some mild suggestive material
Takeaway: The only fish out of water in this film are the actors

THE MARTIAL ARTS KID (Blu-ray)

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MartialArtsKidcoverGrade: C+
Entire family: No, but darned close
2015, 103 min., Color
Traditionz Entertainment
Not rated (would be PG for martial arts fighting)
Aspect ratio: 16×9 widescreen
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: C+
Trailer
Amazon link

As its title suggests, The Martial Arts Kid (2015) is a remake of The Karate Kid, though this five Dove-rated film was made with a much lower budget than the $8 million the original 1984 film had to work with. Ironically, the remake was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, and the lower budget mostly shows up in the lack of experienced actors as extras and in rougher-looking tracking shots.

But Jansen Panettiere, Hayden’s younger brother, is just as likable as Ralph Macchio was as the title character—only in this version he has the added burden of playing a troubled youth whom we see carted away in a police car in the opening sequence. When his grandmother announces she can’t take it anymore, the setting changes from Cleveland, Ohio to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where he will live with his Aunt Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock), her Asian husband Glen (Don “The Dragon” Wilson), and their 12-year-old daughter, Katie (Kayley Stallings, who does a lot with a small role).

MartialArtsKidscreen1The thing is, young Robbie (Panettiere) seems pretty wholesome and clean-cut from the beginning, and his last words to an appalled grandma—“It’s not as bad as it looks”—aren’t enough to explain why this nice guy goes from someone who’s in with a rough crowd one minute and someone who sits at the nerd table in school and is bullied in Florida the next. Except that that was loosely the plot of The Karate Kid, and apart from this twist and the resolution, The Martial Arts Kid stays pretty close to the original script.

Like The Karate Kid, Robbie finds his life complicated when he falls for a girl whose boyfriend is a student at a take-no-prisoners dojo and bullies him—though the bullying episodes are much harder to believe in The Martial Arts Kid. For one thing, Bo (Matthew Ziff) gets away with murder, figuratively speaking, with authority figures not really doing anything because “his father is powerful.” Really? That might have been believable in the ‘70s, but in this age of WikiLeaks even the most powerful are held accountable. Same with the “break their legs” philosophy taught by Dojo Extreme master Kaine (T.J. Storm).

MartialArtsKidscreen2The year before this film was released, Cocoa Beach had a lower-than-average crime rate, and on film it looks like an upscale little Space Coast Town—not the kind of place where an angry dude would threaten to demolish a dealer who won’t give him a refund, or thugs would attack others in broad daylight with a knife. When things like that happen here, you’re well aware that they’re plot contrivances. That said, it’s praiseworthy that Robbie’s salvation comes not only from mentor Glen, who agrees to take him on as a student at his school, but also from Aunt Cindy . . . and that she was a martial arts expert before she decided to develop her skills further with her husband.

The Martial Arts Kid couldn’t be clearer about its main message—bullies suck— though a sub-message gets kind of blurry in an ending that offers not a structured match between the “kid” and his tormenter, but a resolution that’s a little more free form, shall we say. This remake may be a little corny in its wholesomeness, but that’s a trait of family films. The message is a good one, women aren’t portrayed as damsels in distress, and Panettiere and Kathryn Newton (TV’s Gary Unmarried) have enough chemistry to where you want them to be happy. For all its low-budget flaws, The Martial Arts Kid still makes for an entertaining family movie night. Dove approved this for ages 12 and older, but I see no reason why under-12s also couldn’t watch. You don’t have to be 12 to be bullied or take martial arts lessons, right?

Language: Nothing offensive here
Sex: None; just an innocent kiss and sparring takedown
Violence: Knives and guns are pulled at one point, but it’s all martial arts otherwise
Adult situations: Plenty of pseudo low-lifes
Takeaway: My teenage son said this movie was better than he expected, and I’d have to agree, especially considering the budget

THE PEANUTS MOVIE (Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)

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PeanutsMoviecoverGrade: B+
Entire family: Yes
2015, 88 min., Color
20th Century Fox
Rated G
Aspect ratio:1.85:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: A-
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Trailer
Amazon link

Steve Martino is a brave man. Sure, he directed the Dr, Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who! (2008) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), the fourth installment in the Fox animated prehistoric series. But Charles Schulz is in a totally different league.

One of the most famous cartoonists of all time, Schulz received the Congressional Gold Medal for his influence on America culture—an influence that famously extended into the U.S. space program, with the Apollo 10 command module named “Charlie Brown” and the lunar module named “Snoopy.” Over his career Schulz drew close to 18,000 Peanuts comic strips, published dozens of collected strips in books, and came into American homes through a series of now-iconic television specials, many of which were linked to holidays. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Upon his death, Schulz requested that his characters remain essentially unchanged, and The Peanuts Movie was to be the first time the characters were rendered in 3D CGI. In addition, the script was written by Cornelius Uliano and Schulz’s son and grandson, who also had a hand in producing the film. But hey, no pressure!

PeanutsMoviescreen1Martino presides over a production that remains faithful to the spirit of the Peanuts world, choosing to surprise viewers not with twists or deviations, but with the clever rendering of familiar elements from the Peanuts gang repertoire and recognizable visual cues from the comics themselves. Snoopy hauls out his typewriter and takes to the skies atop his doghouse to fight the Red Baron, Charlie Brown is smitten by a new red-haired girl in the neighborhood, and everyone starts to think differently about failure-magnet, disaster-prone Charlie after he scores a perfect 100 on an exam.

In the end, the perceived messages about never giving up, the thin line that often separates failure from success, and the fickleness of public opinion come across loud and clear—whether you’re an adult or a child. And universal messages like that are a big part of what has made the Peanuts adventures popular with all ages.

PeanutsMoviescreen2If The Peanuts Movie feels like a first, it’s only because it’s the first full-length animated feature to be produced for the big screen in 35 years. It’s the fifth film, really, though this one feels like a first film because it introduces all of the familiar elements for a new audience. Yet, old ones will take delight in the way that those familiar elements are treated. Lucy is her old irascible self, setting up her psychiatric advice booth on the street in the middle of winter—though she could probably stand to see a shrink herself because of her self-image and anger-management issues. Pigpen doesn’t have much to do, but his cloud of dirt appears every now and then. Schroeder is more visible with his Beethoven fetish and his toy piano, and Charlie’s sister Sally seems to lurk everywhere in the wings, like a real little sister.

Despite being set in winter, The Peanuts Movie manages to bring in all of the most famous “bits,” from Charlie Brown’s disastrous attempts at kite-flying to school talent shows, or from birdie Woodstock and Snoopy’s comic antics to and Charlie Brown’s dance lessons. The 3D CGI characters and stylized backgrounds seem perfectly melded by comic-strip wordless graphics like gigantic stars briefly flashed to signify an explosion or implosion, thought balloons, or eyes and eyebrows on a character that shift like drawings hovering over the CGI bodies. The effect is fairly mesmerizing and adds a charming uniqueness to the faithful tone and treatment of familiar material. The Peanuts Movie is one of the better 3D CGI animated adaptations in a sub-genre that sees far too many wrong turns and stinkers.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP (DVD)

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RoadChipcoverGrade: C+/B-
Entire family: Yes
2015, 92 min., Color
20th Century Fox
Rated PG for some mild rude humor and language
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: C-
Includes: DVD, Digital HD
Trailer
Amazon link

If you’re thinking of picking up Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, you probably already know what’s in store: a cutesy, formulaic blend of live-action and CGI animation that showcases the antics of squeaky-voiced Alvin, Theodore, and Simon.

So it makes no sense to review this film against classic road movies like National Lampoon’s Vacation, Thelma & Louise, and Little Miss Sunshine. It’s not in that league, nor does it try to be. It only tries to appeal to the same audience that was entertained by the original 2007 film about struggling songwriter David Seville (Jason Lee) and the singing chipmunks that brought him fame. And I will say this: The Road Chip strikes me as the best of the sequels thus far.

The opening high-energy production number mostly gives animators a chance to show what they can have these furry 3D animated guys do with a bunch of dancers and partiers, but once the main plot is established—David has met someone he plans to marry, and she has a teenage son they met earlier, someone who bullies them—the could-be stepbrothers hop in a car together to try to sabotage the proposal. Why? Because the Chipmunks think that Dave will drop them like three fuzzy hot potatoes after he’s married, or worse, that they’ll be sentenced to a lifetime with a new stepbrother who torments them.

RoadChipscreenThe minute they get inside that car together, you know the road trip will bring them together, and that eventually their dad and mom (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) will take another step on the road to their own happily ever after. It’s in the stars (or script). And in the Chipmunk movies there’s another formula: a single determined antagonist—like David Cross, in the first film—that pursues the Chipmunks. In The Road Chip it’s Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Veep) who has the honor of taking pratfalls for the cause. Hale plays an Air Marshal who goes full-bore Capt. Ahab in his pursuit, to sometimes genuinely comic effect. Meanwhile, as Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) try to work together with their new nemesis and potential stepbrother Miles (Josh Green), viewers from blended families or children of single parents fearing change can find some hope for their own futures.

In The Road Trip the Chipettes (voiced by Christina Applegate, Kaley Cuoco, and Anna Faris) appear as more successful performers than their male counterparts, but they’re really just window dressing. It’s all about potential stepbrothers this outing, and the mishaps that threaten to keep them from completing their mission.

The integration of animated characters into live action films has really come a long way since Pete’s Dragon, and The Road Trip is fun to watch just because of all the detail. For such an eye-feast, Blu-ray is the best. But make no mistake: the filmmakers are not pitching this at entire families, though it’s certainly suitable for all to watch. It’s aimed mostly at smaller children, who will give it two thumbs up. Older family members will say that in fairness it’s more like a C+ or B-, depending on your mood. And they’ll probably be more entertained than they’re willing to admit.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Blu-ray combo)

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GoodDinosaurcoverGrade: B-
Entire family: Yes
2015, 94 min., Color
Disney-Pixar
Rated PG for peril, action, and thematic elements
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: B+
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Amazon link
Trailer

The Good Dinosaur is a good movie, but a weird one. How weird, you wonder?

Picture a dinosaur version of a western involving cattlemen and sodbusters, with vegetarian apatosauruses as the farmers, carnivore T-rexes wrangling prehistoric longhorns, and pterosaurs the rustlers.

Picture a dinosaur version of Jack London’s Call of the Wild, flipped upside-down so that the dog who eventually answers to the “call of the wild” is a prehistoric human that hasn’t learned to walk upright yet and acts a bit like Donnie from The Wild Thornberrys, while his “master” is an apatosaurus.

GoodDinosaurscreen2Picture a dinosaur version of The Lion King, with young apatosaurus Arlo getting a life lesson in one scene that shows him and his father looking skyward, while later we watch as the father pushes the son to safety when a calamity sweeps through the valley and (not really a spoiler if you’ve seen The Lion King) kills the father, who comes back in a vision when his young son needs him most.

Picture realistic backgrounds with an animated green dinosaur that will have you flashbacking to Pete’s Dragon.

And picture a dinosaur version of “ohana,” the lesson we learned about family from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, with more pathos, overall, than humor.

The Good Dinosaur is still entertaining, but it’s less than what you’d expect from Pixar and more than a little weird. Just as unusual for a Disney-Pixar film, especially one that was in production for six years, is that there are so many déja vu moments. Pixar built a name for themselves by coming up with completely unique stories, so this more standard and familiar entry is a bit of a surprise. But families with young children especially won’t care.

Using photorealistic scenery and cartoonish characters, Disney-Pixar offers a story with themes about making a mark in the world, living up to parental expectations, and dealing with stronger, more accomplished siblings—all of which ought to resonate with young viewers. Child/teen actors Jack McGraw and Raymond Ochoa give voice to Arlo, the runt of a litter who has a hard time keeping up with his rambunctious brother (Ryan Teeple/Marcus Scribner) and sister (Maleah Padilla).

GoodDinosaurscreen3Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances McDormand) put their marks on the side of a stone silo they built to hold winter corn, and soon so do Buck and Libby. Only poor runty Arlo isn’t able to accomplish a task in order to make his mark. Encouraged by his father, he takes on the challenge of catching and killing the “varmint” that keeps stealing and eating their corn. Of course he can’t do it, because he’s the “good dinosaur”—a kind of prehistoric version of the old children’s book hero Ferdinand the Bull, who wanted to smell flowers rather than fight in the bullring. When Arlo is separated from his family and runs into that “varmint,” whom he names Spot (voiced by Jack Bright), an unlikely friendship develops that will also, of course, enable Arlo to finally prove himself while facing all sorts of dangers.

More strange than it is totally original, The Good Dinosaur is the kind of movie that will really appeal to children. Parents? Not nearly as much—though it’s easy to get lost in the film’s captivating art decoration, set design, and animation, all of which look terrific in Blu-ray.

Language: n/a
Sex: n/a
Violence: A head is ripped off a large bug, there’s a traumatic Lion-King style death, and the main character is in near-constant peril.
Adult situations: Like the intoxication scene in Dumbo the main character and his friend eat some bad fruit and hallucinate.
Takeaway: We’re so used to everything to come out of Pixar Studios being so extraordinary that when a good story instead of a great one comes along it’s a shock to the system, and maybe that’s unfair.

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