Friday, December 10, 2010

DAF #44 - Dinosaur (2000)

Neera: "You like kids, I see."
Aladar: "Well, the skinny ones are a bit chewy."

Title: Dinosaur
Year: 2000
Rated: PG (for intense images)
Run Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

D.B. Sweeney as Aladar
Alfre Woodward as Plio
Ossie Davis as Yar
Max Casella as Zini
Hayden Panettiere as Suri
Samuel E. Wright as Kron
Julianna Margulies as Neera
Joan Plowright as Baylene
Della Reese as Eema
Peter Siragusa as Bruton

Plot: An orphaned dinosaur raised by lemurs joins an arduous trek to a sancturary after a meteorite shower destroys his family home.
Based on: Original story but very, very similar to The Land Before Time.
Setting: 65 million years ago, somewhere where dinosaurs once lived...

Tagline: You have never seen anything like this. (...Unless you've seen The Land Before Time).

First Viewing: February of 2010 on a VHS bought to round out my Disney canon.

Ugh, dinosaurs. They're better than aliens, but just barely, hence my ranking of Dinosaur slightly above Chicken Little. My introduction to Dinosaur (along with probably everybody else my age) was at the beginning of the Tarzan VHS tape where we get a seven minute preview of Disney's latest innovative masterpiece. In a nutshell: CGI characters in real life locations.

I was rather ho-hum. (You know, dinosaurs and all). I always intended to one day watch it, but why do it then when I could do it ten years later? One day, while scouring Wikipedia’s DAF page, I discovered Dinosaur had been added to the canon. WHAT THE FUCK! I thought it was a fluke so I went looking for a more official list and it was on every damn one. I had no choice but to immediately order it online. 

Let's just get it out there: the only reason Dinosaur was added was so Tangled could be #50 and they could make a big to do about it. (No offense to the upcoming Winnie the Pooh, but seriously, Tangled will be better). Anyway, so I watched it about 11 months ago for the first time and was decidedly underwhelmed...just like the movie watching audience in 2000.

The film opens with the same long ass preview from the Tarzan tape. The egg of some kind of dinosaur (a long-neck, but not a long-neck) is separated from the nest. It travels miraculously without being damaged and lands in the habitat of some lemurs. The matriarch, Plio, adopts him despite her father, Yar's misgivings. Many years later, the dinosaur is named Aladar and is a respected dude among the lemurs.

During the annual lemur mating ritual, the big meteorite hits and conveniently kills off everybody except Aladar, Plio, Yar, Plio's brother Zini and Plio's daughter Suri. The five end up meeting a herd of dinosaurs headed for the Great Valley...I mean, the Nesting Grounds. The herd is lead by the fierce Kron (who is the same kind of dinosaur as Aladar) who believes only the strong survive. Aladar and the lemurs befriend Baylene (and elderly British long-neck), Eema (an elderly black three-horn) and Url (Spike).

Aladar wants Kron to slow the herd down so his slow old friends won't get left behind. Kron strongly disagrees and thinks our hero is a troublemaker. To make matters worse, Aladar holds a flame for Kron's sister, Neera, who is color coded pink for your convenience. After Aladar figures out a way to get water to everyone, Neera warms to him and then enjoy pleasant flirtation.

Meanwhile, Bruton is attacked by sharp-tooths and accidentally leads them to the herd. Kron rushes everyone on, but the slow pokes are left behind. Bruton gets adopted into the band of misfits. He then sacrifices himself to the sharp-tooths to save the others who find a passage to the Great Valley...I mean, the Nesting Grounds. 

The herd waits on the other side of an alternative entrance of the Nesting Grounds, blocked by a landslide. After a fight with Kron, Aladar leads the others but the sharp-tooth shows up. Aladar insists they "STAND TOGETHER" to scare him off. He then goes after Kron. In the end, everyone not a dick in this movies goes to the mating grounds and live happily ever after.

So does it belong on the canon? To get technical, I would say no. It's not an animated feature. It's a live action movie with CGI characters. (Kind of like Transformers). But if we're going down that road, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and Fun and Fancy Free have a bit too much live action material for my taste. And then there's those live action bumpers in the Fantasia's. So it's kind of a slippery slope.

But just because Dinosaur is on the canon now doesn't mean it always will be. I'm pretty sure that 1949's So Dear to My Heart (a part animated and part live action flick by way of Song of the South and Bedknobs and Broomsticks) was once a part of the canon back in the 90's during the release of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection series. From my limited internet research, So Dear to My Heart was taken off so The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh could be slipped in without fucking up the numbers. (I'm guessing this was done in 1996 when it was released on video.) But from my recollections, So Dear to My Heart didn't have more animation than Enchanted.

Dinosaur's obvious issue is its similarity to The Land Before Time. This is just a longer, more dramatic, more visually stimulating version of the same story. The band of misfits is older and more likable. (No Cera!) But is that enough? No, I don't think so, because no one really likes it, not in the way people like TLBT. Or maybe that's just my generation. Maybe there are some young whippersnappers who really, really like Dinosaur. Prove me wrong, kids! 


Favorite Song - N/A
Favorite Moment - Ugh...let's just go with the romance.

Favorite Character - Well, Bruton reminded me of this guy I know...

Next Movie - Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

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