Western Animation / We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story


We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story was Steven Spielberg’s other 1993 dinosaur movie, although he only executive-produced this animated feature.

It follows a quartet of dinosaurs who are given newfound intelligence by Mark Twain look-alike Captain Neweyes and travel to the "Middle Future" to fulfill the wishes of children in New York City to see real life dinosaurs. They meet up with two runaway children in their journey to the Museum of Natural History. But when panic breaks out, the heroes end up in an encounter with the frightening Professor Screweyes and his Eccentric Circus.

It is... a little bit different from the source material. That said, the film was not very popular with moviegoers or critics.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Based very loosely on a children’s book by Hudson Talbot. Half of the dinosaur characters are dropped with more human characters added as well as an antagonist and loads and loads of side-plots.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • If for no other reason than the implication that dinosaurs aren't appealing to kids unless they're turned into cuddly goofballs.
    • Small potatoes in comparison, but pterosaurs aren't freakin' dinosaurs. It doesn't help that Elsa looks nothing like a pteranodon.
    • Woog and Dweeb, a plant-eating Triceratops and Parasaurolophus respectively, are both seen eating hotdogs.
    • Rex has three functional fingers in each hand, despite T-Rex having only two in real life.
    • When Rex is in his 'feral' form, he's drawn in the upright, old timey T-rex style, instead of the horizontal-leaning way that is seen as accurate today.
  • Baleful Polymorph: This happens to Louie and Cecilia when Professor Screweyes, having put them under his spell with his screw eye, demonstrates the power of his evil pills to the dinosaurs by giving one to the kids, turning them into monkeys.
  • Big Applesauce: New Yorkers have seen everything...
  • Big Eater: Woog.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Overlaps with The Immodest Orgasm in a very odd way. "Laying an egg" is used as a term of romantic endearment, but also to describe how impressed Elsa was by the sauerkraut.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: A mild example pops up when Louie meets Cecilia because you don't expect to hear this line in an animated kids movie and it's said so casually:
    Louie: Come on, big eyes you're killing me. What's the matter?
    Cecilia: It's Thanksgiving.
    Louie: So? What's there to cry about? You don't like turkey?
    Cecilia: No, it's my parents.
    Louie: What about your parents? Do they beat you?
  • Broken Aesop: The "family is important" moral wrapped around the movie isn't actually supported by Rex's story at all and seems tacked on because we hadn't learned anything yet.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Louie talks more like a wannabe tough kid from the 1920s than your typical 90s kid.
  • Carnivore Confusion: A very strange variant. Predation is frowned upon, but Brain Grain Cereal apparently teaches a herbivorous Triceratops to eat HOT DOGS.. Tofu, we hope. One line of dialogue could have reassured us here.
    • There are some deeply Unfortunate Implications here. Professor Neweyes tells us that Brain Grain has essentially caused world peace in his home time, since living things that eat it will no longer harm each other at all. Given that Brain Grain also turns Rex into what amounts to a Barney rip-off, and without it, he's a vicious slavering murderbeast... well, see What Measure Is a Non-Cute? below.
  • Cat Scare
  • Cereal Induced Super Powers: Brain Grain Cereal.
  • Character Customization: When the movie first came out, Louie used to have some of his teeth missing and Cecilia's hair color used to be dirty blond with a red tint. But then the direct-to-DVD reissue of the movie decided to have Louie's mouth being edited to show his teeth in its entirety and Cecilia's hair color being changed to just dirty blond without any tint or color mixed in.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Elsa gives Louie an excellent one when he tauntingly asks if she can fly. Then, she demonstrates for him.
  • Circus of Fear: Professor Screweyes' circus is so unnerving that someone made an effective AMV of Mr. Crowley using it.
  • Concert Kiss: Louie and Cecilia near the end of the movie.
  • Cooldown Hug: Pretty blatant example, actually.
  • Cool Old Guy: Captain Neweyes.
  • Conspicuous CG: Most notably during the scene with Louie's flight on Elsa's back across the city.
  • Crowd Song: "Roll Back The Rock".
  • Deal with the Devil: When the kids made the contract with the Big Bad Professor Screweyes they had to sign it with their blood.
  • Death by Irony / No Body Left Behind: Screweyes getting devoured by his own crows.
  • Deranged Animation
  • Deus ex Machina: Convenient timing helps when you have an actual Time Machine. But then again, couldn't he have arrived before the heroes got trapped in the evil circus?
  • Devolution Device: Screweyes' Brain Drain pills that he created in response to Neweyes' Brain Grain cereal, which he uses to briefly transform the kids into chimpanzees and revert the dinosaurs to their pre-Brain Grain forms. Which are violent and monstrous. Huh.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Screweyes gets eaten by his trained crows, which completely cover his body then fly away, leaving nothing at all.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The crows who are present whenever Prof. Screweyes appears in the movie seem to dislike him for some reason: so when he's left alone they took the chance to eat him alive.
  • Dumb Dinos: Rex and the other dinosaurs are portrayed as stupid, mindlessly violent monsters without the effects of Brain Grain, playing the trope straight.
  • Evil Twin: Actually, just an ordinary brother, not a twin brother.
    • They never mentioned if they were twins or not... they certainly looked a lot alike, if you leave the screw eye and all that aside...
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: According to most of the kids, it would be. On the other hand, the fact that some kids and virtually all adults are scared by the idea of actual dinosaurs running about is why Screweyes wants to get his hands on the heroes. That said, when he does get his hands on the protagonists and turns them mean with his evil pills, they don't rampage so much as sit there and look angry.
    • Only because they're chained, though... one can only imagine what would have happened if they had escaped the circus...
  • Flashback
  • Force Feeding: How Neweyes gets the dinosaurs to take Brain Grain in the first place.
  • Gentle Giant: Rex.
  • G-Rated Mental Illness: Generally subverted/averted with Screweyes.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rex is nude for the flashback making up the movie, but in the present is wearing a white golfing shirt.
  • Hellish Pupils: The slot in Screweyes' screw-eye is positioned vertically to give it this effect, and is sometimes shown as being elliptical like a cat's eye. It even moves in his socket like a normal eye would just before the crows attack him.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Professor Screweyes' screw eye. It is able to hypnotize people, despite the fact that it's only a screw thrust in his eyesocket.
  • Insult Backfire: Louie's "What are you, some kind of a debutante?" to Cecilia. Turns out she is, and it's also the moment his crush on her begins.
  • Informed Ability: Much of Neweyes' plan (and the film's plot) hinges on the dinosaurs' apparent intelligence and abilities — to navigate New York City, to handle the modern world, to make up their own minds about what they want to do with their lives. In reality, they're extremely childlike and naive, and this nearly winds up being their undoing.
  • Interspecies Romance: Elsa is very straightforward about her crush on Rex, much to his initial discomfort. Whether or not he returns her feelings in the end is sort of hard to tell.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Screweyes has an agreement with Stubbs the clown — if Stubbs can make him laugh, he'll put his act in the show. And while this is indeed leading the poor guy on, the fact still remains that Screweyes' circus is not a goofy clown kind of circus in any way, shape, or form.
  • Just Eat Him: One of the dinosaurs did consider doing this to Screweyes, until he brought up the fact that since the dinosaurs are smarter now, they should act civil. Later, when they aren't so civil, Rex was this close to eating Screweyes, but much to the dismay of a couple of people, The Power of Love prevents him from doing so.
  • Karma Houdini: Captain Neweyes. While it's true that Professor Screweyes is a twisted individual, Neweyes was the one who thought bringing dinosaurs to present-day New York was a good idea. It wasn't. Their appearance causes a panic, they run amok as they try to escape the NYPD, and Screweyes gets a hold of 'em and nearly gets eaten for his trouble. While everything works out in the end, the fact that Neweyes is responsible for all the following chaos is never addressed.
  • Knight of Cerebus: After Screweyes and his Circus Of Fear shows up the movie takes on a decidedly darker turn. The villain is genuinely charismatic and the goofy dinosaurs are no longer funny, even before he turns them monstrous. While it is in no way an appropriate direction for this silly kid's film to take, for older viewers who are into weird animation, it's the best part of the movie — but it is also short.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Cecilia.
  • The Long List: Stubb's quitting speech.
  • Mad Scientist: Both Neweyes and Screweyes qualify.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Doubles as a Blood Oath.
  • Mind-Control Eyes
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Doctor Bleeb.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Screweyes gets involved.
  • My Beloved Smother: Louie claims his mother is this trope as his reason for running away, but to hear him describe it, it sounds more like he's just massively insecure in his own masculinity.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer gave the impression that Screweye's role as the "Master of Fear" would have been more prominent and that the dinosaurs only appeared monstrous during his act as the result of his machine. Screweyes is only in the movie during the last 25 minutes or so and is more of a pathetic, ineffectual villain, and the dinosaurs actually turned evil as the result of his pills.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Stubbs.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: On the bird mother.
  • Parental Abandonment: Cecilia's parents are never around, and don't even take her on vacation with them. In contrast, Louie is the one abandoning his parents, as apparently he was embarrassed of his mother showering him with affection at every opportunity.
  • Parental Bonus: "Oh, hello madam...oh, sir!"
  • The Power of Love: Can turn ferocious, monstrous dinosaurs into cuddly, dorky dinosaurs.
  • Puppy Love: Louie and Cecilia
  • Random Events Plot
  • Reality Ensues: After the whole "Roll Back the Rock (To the Dawn of Time)" number everyone in New York realizes those dinosaurs AREN'T animatronic and, understandably terrified, panic in the streets.
  • Repulsive Ringmaster: Professor Screweyes, owner of Professor Screweyes' Eccentric Circus, the purpose of which is to frighten people instead of entertaining them.
  • Restraining Bolt: Brain Grain. It "civilizes" the dinosaurs to the point where simply disregarding Screweyes' contract with the children is unthinkable; they'd rather allow harm to come to themselves. It's loosely implied that this is where the intergalactic peace in Neweyes' far future originates.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: The dinosaurs land on Louie's raft just as he's making a breakfast sandwich with one.
  • The Runaway: Louie, soon joined by Cecilia.
  • Shout-Out: To Jurassic Park, which is showing at a theater in Times Square.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Elsa is the only female in the prehistoric posse.
  • Snub by Omission: An unintentional one on the part of Earth's children. During the wish radio scene, all the dinosaurs are specifically requested by species, with the exception of Dweeb — "his" child longs to see an apatosaurus. He doesn't seem to take offense.
  • Stock Dinosaurs
    • Tyrannosaurus rex - “Rex”
    • Triceratops - “Woog”
    • Parasaurolophus - “Dweeb”
    • Pteranodon - “Elsa”
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Especially at the beginning of the movie, where Buster the bird is quite accepting of the fact that Rex is playing golf in front of his tree.
  • Trouser Space: Stubbs pulls this stunt near the end of the film. The best part is he gets the laughter he had so much sought while giving Professor Screweyes his I Quit Speech
  • Uplifted Animal: Neweyes can do this, Screweyes can do it backwards.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Professor Screweyes, whose a stark contrast to his brother.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: And it is wikkid Anvilicious about this too. The dinosaurs are turned into Barney Expies when they're "tamed". Once Professor Screweyes gets a hold of them, they turn ferocious and terrifying... but Rex's "normal" form in the beginning is ridiculously monstrous already.
    • Let's not even get into the irony that comes from the fact that when they become intelligent, they wind up looking, well, really dumb. In their feral forms, they look more clever and respectable than they do as Happy Meal toys. Huh?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When the group is boarding the ship to leave Screweyes' circus, Neweyes says that he has a surprise for them. Unless he was referring to the five minute ride to the museum, we never do learn what the surprise was.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Louie and Cecilia are reunited with their parents through a series of photos.

Alternative Title(s): Were Back A Dinosaurs Story