This is just a guess, but probably the first thing everyone thought when seeing the trailer for The Good Dinosaur was: â€œThis oneâ€™s gonna hurt.â€ Like many a Pixar movie before it, the film promised an epic journey, an unlikely friendship, and an emotional crescendo meant to put you in touch with deep-rooted feelings you didnâ€™t even know you had.
After seeing the Good Dinosaur presentation at the D23 Expo, we can report that all of that will come to pass. â€œWeâ€™re putting everything we have into making an adventurous and emotional story,â€ director Peter Sohn noted during the presentation, which showcased a few clips from the movie as well as a lot more detail about its story.
Essentially, The Good Dinosaur is a boy-and-his-dog movie, except this time the boy is an Apatosaurus named Arlo and the dog is a boy named Spot. In the film, Arlo gets caught in a current and carried down a long river away from his family and is trying to get home. (Sad.) He realizes he has to follow the river to walk back home and along the way befriends Spot, who is something of an orphan and looking for a companion. (More sad.) Oh, and before he was taken so far away from his home, Arloâ€™s father died. (The most sad.)
This all happens, mind you, in a world that has very cartoon-esque characters, but that also looks incredibly photorealistic. The premise of The Good Dinosaur is that the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs never happened, so young humansâ€”like Spotâ€”can coexist with dinos. And in Pixarâ€™s version of this world, everything looks hyperreal, except for the dinosaurs and other creatures. It makes the whole scene feel incredibly lifelike, while also giving its main characters the same cuteness that makes moviegoers want to take them home and love them forever. Itâ€™s brutal.
In a clip shown at D23, the audience got to see just how emotionally resonant this cinematic concoction was going to get. In it Arlo is hanging out with his new human friend when he wistfully says, â€œI miss my family.â€ When the boy seems to not understand â€œfamily,â€ the dinosaur sets up a series of sticks, each one representing a member of his nuclear next of kin. Just when he starts to think Spot still doesnâ€™t get it, the boy makes his own stick family then knocks the members over and buries them in the ground to show their passing. Arlo does the same with the stick that represented his father. We canâ€™t speak for everyone at D23, but if that moment didnâ€™t sock everyone in the gut, nothing did.
Yes, The Good Dinosaur, out Nov. 25, is going to be stunningâ€”and very hard to watch.