Listen to the Recess! Clip
School’s almost over for the year, and when it is, it’ll be impossible for you to put off a visit to the local multiplex with your children for Walt Disney’s latest animation extravaganza, Dinosaur, if they haven’t already had you take them there the day the movie opened on May 19th.
Over half a decade in the making, at a cost of over $200 million dollars, if you count the new digital studio Disney built to house the cutting edge technology for the film, it represents a huge investment of resources–in many ways it involved risks parallel to Disney’s breakthrough in Snow White, the first feature-length animated movie ever made. But with Dinosaur, the Disney people can’t rely on catchy music and identifiable characters to sweep the audience into the movie. In fact, there isn’t a song and dance number to be had in Dinosaur. No “Under the Sea” or “Hakuna Matata.”
Instead, what the Disney folks have given us is a Cretaceous creation about an orphaned Iguanadon named Aladar, who is taken in as a little dinosaur hatchling by a family of very cute lemur monkeys–Plio, Yar, Suri, and the little boy monkey, Zini, who, of course becomes Aladar’s best friend and side-kick. All’s well on the lemur’s island until a barrage of meteors devastates their habitat and forces the dinosaurs to go in search of a new nesting ground. The quest for this tranquil place is the thematic heart of the movie. The alpha Iguanadon, Kron, wants to do things his way, unilaterally; the upstart Aladar takes a democratic approach and sees that their best chance for surviving lies in building a solid community that can withstand the turmoil caused by the meteors as well as the onslaught of the evil Carnotaruses–a predatory, Tyrannosaurus Rex-like creature that the Disney imagineers invented to give real teeth to the plot. It’s a familiar theme–we can best survive change by pulling together–and a vital one. Children need to hear about positive, unified action.
This is a fascinating, compelling movie. It has some very strong scenes (no amiable purple dinosaurs here), thus the PG rating, so you should be careful about bringing your younger children, even if they are experts in all things Cretaceous or Jurassic. But the effects are breath-taking: the big budget is up on the screen, as they say, and it is amazing.