Saturday, November 5, 2016

We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story - 2 stars out of 10

We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story - 2 stars out of 10

If I mention an animated Steven Spielberg film about dinosaurs, what is the first thing to come to your mind?  I doubt that it is “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.”  This is just another cheap attempt to get a piece of Disney’s success during the Renaissance.  How did Spielberg get sucked into this one?  It has plenty of big names, a score by James Horner, and a song performed by Little Richard, but the entire thing is painfully cheesy and trite.  When you consider that this film hit theaters between Disney’s releases of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” it emphasizes its lack of quality in an era of critically acclaimed animation.  Even better: this film was released the same year as “Jurassic Park”!  Was it meant to be a companion piece to Spielberg’s box-office shattering dinosaur thriller?  This is probably the first time that one studio managed to create a box-office smash AND a box-office bomb about dinosaurs in the same year.  The main issue is the film’s shallow story.  The sight gags, stereotypical 90’s children, and simplistic plot probably appeals to kids but leaves the adults feeling like they were conned into watching something that is (frankly) stupid.  The concept of running away to join the circus was popular in the early 20th century but seems awkward in a 90’s setting where kids enjoy technology and skateboarding.  Not to mention the inevitable disappointment when any young viewer expects to see living dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History.  They tried to make up for the plot with big names like John Goodman (good choice, good man), Martin Short (but as a dimwitted clown with strong convictions?), Jay Leno (an awkward choice for an animated film), Julia Child (also awkward), Kenneth Mars (King Trident, stolen from Disney), Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit, also stolen from Disney), and Walter Cronkite.  Even with a great plot, this random group of actors (and news journalists?!?!?) would have struggled to build chemistry.  The entire film feels disjointed, pointless, and lacks the heart of Disney’s animated output.  But it has a Ferris Bueller-proportioned parade, so there’s that.  “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” is able to hold the attention of young kids and make them terrified of the circus, but certainly not a film that will please the entire family.  If you are really craving an animated Steven Spielberg film about dinosaurs, stick with “The Land Before Time.”

[Pictured: Cute cartoon dinosaurs running around New York City: so much potential, so much disappointment]

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