DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you, like me, when watching an animated movie for kids tend to end up on that annoying crossroads of judging the film on its intrinsic qualities and trying to trying to transport yourself to the mindset of the target audience, you'll have a tough time with the Good Dinosaur.
If you, like me, have a five year old son to watch it with and show you which path to take the Good Dinosaur will feel like a warm bath with a strong moral compass.
A simplistic plot with an overbearing message can be really annoying. The Good Dinosaur definitely suffers from that, but in its simplicity and dime-a-dozen thematic arch it manages to appeal to a universal sense of belonging, allowing its protagonist to become the best version of himself. This all I saw resonate strongly within that small boy sat next to me and by proxy it touched me as well.
Pixar excels at appealing to the heart. When they're brilliant they're unrivalled, when they're good they're a cut above most. This falls somewhere in between because of the simple fact that it knows who its telling its story to.
With flourishes of creativity this coming of age story slowly and quite cleverly introduces a Western touch, something I did not expect at all. The setting is basically that of the Wild West settlers trying to brave the elements. I was especially pleasantly surprised by the way they portrayed the T-rexes. Very cleverly done.
This is perhaps Pixar's most beautiful film. It's simply breathtaking. The sometimes a bit too cartoonish design of the characters often contrast too sharply with the incredibly realistic backdrops. It's a minor gripe though as there is so much visual brilliance to admire. And Spot is simply brilliant.
The Good Dinosaur tells a simple story, but tells it with excitement, adventure, laughter and a tear. It made my son crawl onto my lap in the theatre when it got a bit tense, it made him demand of me that I would never die, it made him promise himself he would put his head under water next swimming class even though he was afraid and it made him laugh like the silly git he can be.
And that's more than enough.