***/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras B+
screenplay by Meg LeFauve
directed by Peter Sohn and Bob Peterson
by Walter Chaw Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) is the runt in a frontier family of stylized dinosaur herbivores who struggles to live up to the example of towering Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) on the family farmstead. He's clumsy, though, and easily frightened, and when he finds himself incapable of killing a mammalian vermin (Jack Bright), he unwittingly causes the death of his father. Arlo joins forces with the vermin, eventually, dubbing him "Spot" (he's a little orphaned human boy) and relying on him to forage sustenance for him in the wild world outside. Spot, in return, relies upon Arlo for protection in the film's final set-piece as Spot is set upon by a flock of fundamentalist pterodactyls. Pixar's The Good Dinosaur is, in other words, a horror western about a frontier bespotted with monsters and monstrous ideologies, set right there at the liminal space--as all great westerns are--between the old ways and the encroaching new. It's far more disturbing than has generally been acknowledged and, in being disturbing, it offers a tremendous amount of subtext layered onto a deceptively simple story. It posits an Earth where the dinosaur-ending comet misses impact, leading to millions of years of evolved adaptations and ending, as the film begins, with the emergence of homo sapiens on schedule, but skittering around on all fours and howling at their saurian masters. The Good Dinosaur is an existential horrorshow.