Western Animation / The Good Dinosaur

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/images_3.jpg

The Good Dinosaur is an American 3D computer-animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was released on November 25, 2015 as the studio's sixteenth feature film. Infamous for it's Troubled Production, which resulted in the original director, longtime Pixar writer Bob Peterson, leaving the project due to story problems and being replaced with fellow regular Peter Sohn.

Set in an Alternate Universe in which the dinosaurs never went extinct, the film follows Arlo, the youngest of a family of Apatosaurus farmers living in the shadow of the Clawtooth Mountains (Wyoming's Grand Tetons). One day when he's chasing after a "critter" - a human child - who's been eating from the family's food stock, Arlo falls into the river and is swept away by the current. Now Arlo, accompanied by the human boy, whom he names Spot, has to face his fears as he makes his way through the wilderness to come back home.

Tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: Among Forrest Woodbrush's companions are Fury, Destructor, Dreamcrusher, and....Debbie.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Inverted. The human child acts like a dog, prompting Arlo to name him "Spot".
  • Alternate History: The movie is set in a world where non-avian dinosaurs never became extinct and Jurassic dinosaurs like Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus coexist with Cretaceous dinosaurs like Triceratops and Parasaurolophus and even prehistoric mammals like the giant bison that existed in the ice ages.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese release is "Best Friend (Mother Earth version)" by Kiroro, a rerecorded version of one of their earlier songs.
  • An Aesop: Courage isn't about not being afraid. It's about not letting your fear prevent you from getting things done.
  • Androcles' Lion: Inverted. Arlo gains Spot's loyalty after he spares him when Spot falls into a trap his father set up.
  • Arc Symbol: Stones are depicted as obstacles throughout the film.
  • Artistic License Astronomy: In the asteroid POV, we see it heat up and start to burn as it enters the Earth's atmosphere, but it's in the next shot, the wide one, that it's suddenly far away from Earth again. Of course, Rule of Funny.
  • Artistic License Physics: On a realistic trajectory, the asteroid would have flew by in a hyperbolic/parabolic trajectory, due to Earth's gravity altering the trajectory of the asteroid.
  • Badass Family: The Tyrannosaurus family that Arlo met are highly skilled hunters and fighters.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Mostly averted with Forrest Woodbrush; he attempts to lure Spot in as his own, but willingly gives him up when Spot responds to Arlo first. Played lethally serious with Thunderclap and his Cargo Cult of pterosaurs.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Spot the human is a mere 3-feet tall. While Arlo is a juvenile dinosaur, he is still quite large compared to Spot.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Papa is gone, as is Spot, but Arlo finds his way home safely, more confident and grown up than he's ever been.
  • Black Comedy Burst: Doesn't get more black than Spot beheading a giant beetle onscreen.
  • Bookends: At the beginning and end of the movie there's an Apatosaurus walking, with a shot of its shadow as they're walking, then the back of their head. At the beginning it's Henry and at the end it's Arlo.
  • Bonding Over Missing Parents: Arlo and Spot begin to bond when Arlo talks Spot about his family. Spot then reveals he did have a family, but they died. Just like him, Arlo lost his father recently.
  • A Boy and His X: Inverted. The highly civilized "X" (in this case, an Apatosaurus) adopts a rather feral boy, in the style of Ice Age.
  • Cargo Cult: Thunderclap and his gang have very strong overtones of this, in their quasi-religious "born again" bearing, their fanaticism, and...
    Thunderclap: The storm provides!
  • Carnivore Confusion: Addressed. The Tyrannosaurs avoid eating other dinosaurs by being presented as a family of cattle ranchers. The raptors want to prey on their bison and are presented as rustlers. The pterosaurs pick off small and weak creatures, and are presented as lying bullies who exploit natural disasters in order to find vulnerable prey.
  • Clean Pretty Childbirth: The eggs Arlo and his siblings emerge from are completely hollow and dry inside.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Forrest Woodbrush, the Pet Collector.
  • Cowboy: The Tyrannosaurus family are Working Cowboys, protecting their herds of bison from raptor rustlers.
  • Curse Cut Short: Ramsey almost says bullshit.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Ramsey finds Spot to be "the cutest little thing".
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: Forrest's assorted little pets including Fury the lizard, Destructor the fox, Dream-Crusher the tusked gopher and Debbie the cardinal.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Arlo's parents are very loving to him, and it's the death of Henry, Arlo's father that traumatizes Arlo and gives him the chance to mature.
  • Disaster Scavengers: The pterosaurs are more literal practitioners of this trope, preferring to sit back and let the storms do the killing for them while they feast on the remains.
  • Disappeared Dad: Arlo loses his father to a landslide caused by a thunderstorm.
  • Disappointed In You: While Poppa Henry doesn't exactly say it, he is very upset when Arlo lets the critter (Spot) that's been eating their food free and firmly decides to take Arlo to where the critter is and finish the job.
  • Dumb Dinos: Averted with Arlo and the other dinosaurs, who are fully sapient. Ironically, the raptors come off as the least intelligent dinosaurs in the film, while Thunderclap and the pterosaurs are superstitious and cruel but not stupid by any means.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: A universe where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs never happened.
  • Expy: Spot can be seen as a male version of Sandy from The Croods, while also bearing some resemblance to Mowlgi.
  • Face of a Thug: Since Tyrannosaurus rex are known for looking and being vicious, carnivorous creatures, Arlo was terrified when he ran into them. Luckily for him, they turn out to be Gentle Giants.
  • Face Your Fears: Arlo is told by his father, and later by Butch, to "get through the fear". Little by little, Arlo has to face his fears to get back home, particularly going through a flood like the one that took his father to save Spot.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Spot tearing a huge hole in Thunderclap's wing membrane with his teeth. There's no gore or anything, but it's still quite shocking.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The pterodactyls, especially Thunderclap.
  • Feathered Fiend: Bubbha the Velociraptor and his pack of cattle rustlers.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Arlo is first afraid of Spot, then has a hatred of him since he blames him for Poppa's death, but they bond together surviving in the wilderness. Arlo is willing to fend off Pterosaurs and ford flooded rivers to save him.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Forrest Woodbrush aka the Pet Collector.
  • Furry Confusion: In particular is that birds seem to be non-anthropomorphic despite being dinosaurs, as well as the fact mammals can't talk so there are no qualms about hunting and eating them. And then there's also the fact pterosaurs are able to speak despite not being dinosaurs.
  • G-Rated Drug: At one point, Arlo and Spot eat some fruit from the ground. Judging from the hallucinations following, it was well fermented fruit.
  • Gentle Giant:
    • Arlo, being a sauropod, is a massive, good-natured herbivore.
    • His father is a better example.
    • The Tyrannosaurus family that Arlo met are actually pleasant creatures.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Comes in quite handy when you're kicking piles of bullsh—" "She's jealous!"
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Subverted. Arlo may be huge, but the world is far bigger, and natural hazards and obstacles will often make him vulnerable.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Played pretty straight. Herbivores are described as being the "farmers" of dinosaur society, and Arlo does indeed come from a family of frontier dinos (subsistence farmers). On the other hand, there's mention of "outlaws" such as the Stegosaurus gang Nash fought off. However, the Tyrannosauruses also turn out to be farmers as well...though they don't farm plants, they farm animals.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Spot manages to outfight many creatures that threaten him and Arlo, in contrast to Arlo's more cowardly nature for most of the film.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Arlo faces one of these while rescuing Spot—an inevitability, given that the river is a main story element.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In real life, the reason mammals (and by extension, humans) that we're most familiar with evolved and diversified the way they did during the Cenozoic is because dinosaurs went extinct, as mammals evolved to take over the now unoccupied ecological niches.
  • Intellectual Animal: In the movie, humans don't have the ability to speak, but the dinosaurs and pterosaurs do. Also, the herbivorous dinosaurs farm plants while the carnivores raise livestock.
  • Interspecies Friendship: The film is mostly about the growing friendship between an Apatosaurus and a young human boy.
  • Kid Hero: Arlo, the lively 11-year-old Apatosaurus with a big heart.
  • Location Theme Naming: Arlo's name is the Old English word for "hill". As of the film's re-tooling, however, he no longer has siblings whose names fit the theme.
  • Minimalist Cast: The only real main characters are Arlo and Spot, as all other characters only appear for small sections of the story to drive Arlo's character development.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter:
    • Forrest Woodbrush is a Styracosaurus with the horn arrangements of a Triceratops.
    • Thunderclap has a Nyctosaurus-like crest alongside toothed jaws and wing claws.
    • Many of the non-descript animals display this. Particularly the viper-lizard hybrid.note 
    • The Dimetrodon from one of the deleted scenes has a skull similar to a gorgonopsid's.
  • Mushroom Samba: Arlo and Spot eat rotten fruit that give them hallucinations.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers make it look like the storm that Arlo and Poppa are caught in causes Arlo to wash down the river away from Poppa. Also, it makes it look like Arlo meets Spot after he is far away from home. However what happens in the film is that the storm in the film along with a landslide kills Poppa when he tries he saves Arlo, leaving Arlo and the rest of the family to live on without him. And Arlo met the man cub later to be named Spot before Poppa's death. The cub was a pest eating the family's crops and Poppa tasked Arlo to kill him, but Arlo couldn't bring himself to do it, which prompted a disappointed Poppa to take him on another job, where the said storm and landslide kills Poppa. After that tragedy, Arlo blamed the boy for Poppa's death and got in a scuffle only to end up in the river and washed far away from home with the cub soon to be known as Spot.
  • No Antagonist: The producers have stated nature is the film's main antagonist, though Thunderclap and his fellow Pterosaurs seem to come close.
  • Noodle Incident: How exactly did Spot, after being carried off by Thunderclap and his Pterosaurs, manage to avoid disappearing down the gullet of one or another of them? All we know is that they're busy tearing apart his hiding place when Arlo finds them again.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: The dinosaurs have a society of sorts - Arlo's family run a farm and build simple structures and implements, the Tyrannosaurus herd cattle - but otherwise act and move like animals.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Thunderclap seems to have inadvertently conflated the concepts of revelation and elevation, calling it "relevation".
  • Predators Are Mean: Subverted by the T. rex family. Played straight, however, with Thunderclap's pterosaur flock and Bubbha's Velociraptor pack.
  • Properly Paranoid: Arlo turns out to have every reason to be afraid when his father decides to take him on a dangerous trip in the middle of a storm so that he can not be cowardly.
  • Protagonist Title: Arlo is the titular good dinosaur.
  • Ptero Soarer: Thunderclap bears resemblance to a Nyctosaurus...except that he has teeth, birdlike talons, and wing claws, which Nyctosaurus did not have in real life (especially the wing claws, as nyctosaurids are distinctive for lacking those). The other pterosaurs appear to be Ludodactylus, Caulkicephalus, and Guidraco, which also have birdlike talons. However, the pterosaurs are quadrupedal like in real life, but they walk on their knuckles.
    • Supplementary material simply calls the pterosaurs "pterodactyls". Thankfully, the merchandise also describe them as flying reptiles and one children's coloring book explicitly states they are not dinosaurs.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Pervis! Shut! Yer mouth!"
  • Raptor Attack: The Velociraptor have a patch of feathers on their heads and spines as well as tufts on their legs and at the end of their tails, but they are otherwise scaly and glaringly lack feathers on their arms (the one place on Velociraptor that's known to be plumed). There's also the fact they're much larger than the real animal, as with many portrayals in media. On the other hand, they have proper long and narrow snouts as opposed to the broad Utahraptor-like skulls perpetrated by Jurassic Park.
  • Scenery Porn: The backgrounds are lush and vibrantly rendered to a photo-realistic degree, which of course contrasts heavily with the simple, cartoony design of the characters. In fact, much of it was created through actual geological data of Wyoming and Idaho landscapes, particularly the Tetons and Yellowstone.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The film features Ludodactylus, Caulkicephalus, Guidraco, and Bison latifrons. Thunderclap resembles a Nyctosaurus, and there's a four-legged snake similar to Tetrapodophis.note 
  • Shark Fin Of Doom: Inverted, literally. The second time the pterosaurs appear, it's with their mouths sticking out of the clouds just like this trope, except upside down.
  • Shoo the Dog: At the end, Arlo encourages Spot to go with a family of cave-people rather than go back to Arlo's family farm.
  • Shout-Out: The first time Arlo meets the Velociraptors, they're lurking in tall grass.
  • Silence Is Golden: When Arlo and Spot (who can't talk) are alone, the movie can go for long streches without any dialogue.
  • The Smurfette Principle: There are three T. rexes, four Velociraptors, and five pterosaurs, with one female in each group.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: What ordinarily would be a case of Artistic License Paleontology is subverted by the premise of the film: set in an alternate universe, where the cataclysmic asteroid that forever changed life on Earth actually missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct. All named dinosaur characters belong to the well-known genera: Arlo and his family are Apatosaurus, Forrest Woodbrush is a Styracosaurus, the cattle rustlers are Velociraptor, and the cattle rancher family are Tyrannosaurus rex. Parasaurolophus make cameo appearances in the opening, and the tie-in toy line features Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Ankylosaurus (which were planned to appear in the movie, but were cut out during the revision). The pterosaurs on the other hand avert this, being based on obscure genera such as Guidraco and Caulkicephalus. Deleted scenes also include the temporally misplaced Non-Dinosaur Dimetrodon, but one possessing mammalian traits like fur and visible ears and serving as the setting's analog to wolves or coyotes.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Thunderclap and his gang definitely qualify. Justified in that the lot of them are Ax-Crazy.
  • This Is My Human: During his travels through the wilderness, Arlo gains an unlikely companion. A small, but feisty orphan human. He's utterly alone in the world. Humans have only started to emerge in the world, they haven't evolved to the point where they're capable of communicating beyond yells, grunts and cries. Arlo ends up adopting the little boy, and names him "Spot".
  • Two Girls to a Team: The only female on Arlo's family are the mother and the eldest child.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Butch and his two children, Nash and Ramsey.
  • The Western: With dinosaurs!
  • Wham Shot: After Arlo helps Thunderclap free a cute raccoon-looking thing that was trapped after the storm, Thunderclap promptly eats the poor thing alive, showing that he's NOT the friendly search-and-rescue guy he claimed to be.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: At one point Spot attempts to bring Arlo random things to eat, one of which is a lizard that's still alive and a giant beetle that's still alive. The lizard looks about as cartoony as everyone else and Spot promptly tosses it away. The beetle looks like an actual photorealistic beetle, and Spot promptly rips its head off. Onscreen.
    • Two more insects are later eaten onscreen, played for laughs. When a big-eyed, fluffy critter resembling a raccoon or a lemur is eaten onscreen, it's played for horror.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/TheGoodDinosaur