TIFF: ‘Good Dinosaur’ stars friends, frontier

(Photo: Disney/Pixar)

(Photo: Disney/Pixar)

TORONTO — Everyone’s seen the story about a boy and his dog. They haven’t seen the one about the dinosaur and his cave kid.

The animated The Good Dinosaur (in theaters Nov. 25) tweaks the familiar in that trademark Disney/Pixar way and imagines a world 65 million years ago where that pesky asteroid didn’t wipe out the dinosaurs. The what-if scenario allows an Apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) to be best buds with young Spot (Jack Bright), a human child with various canine tendencies like walking on all fours, panting a lot and being ferociously loyal.

Director Peter Sohn presented new footage and concept art from The Good Dinosaur at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday that showcased the beautiful but dangerous landscape that Arlo and Spot have to traverse after Arlo’s dad (Jeffrey Wright) dies and a sequences of events strands the little dino 100 miles away from his family.

It’s not really a buddy film, though, according to Sohn. They always tend to have a conflict among each of the characters, and then they start to slowly appreciate each other. Whereas with the boy and his dog, “it’s a one-way street: The dog has no real conflict with the boy. The boy has the conflict, and then has a hole in his life that the dog starts to fill,” says the filmmaker.

“There’s a slightly different relationship that Pixar hasn’t done in that way, but it’s also a journey film that has a lot to do with surviving the wilderness.”

Sohn’s film also puts the dinosaurs in a frontier-like setting. For example, carnivorous Tyrannosaurus rexes are ranchers who herd cattle and actually gallop like horses. “It’s a subtle thing,” the director says. “Hopefully it doesn’t seem like too much of parody. We’re really trying to play it sincere, that this is how this world works.”

In the frontier-influenced world of "The Good Dinosaur," herbivores like Arlo are farmers who move earth with their long necks. (Photo: Pixar)

In the frontier-influenced world of “The Good Dinosaur,” herbivores like Arlo are farmers who move earth with their long necks. (Photo: Pixar)

Pterodactyls are villainous vultures, and Apatosaurs and other herbivores are kind of the farmers, where their long necks act as tractors to move earth.

“They don’t have technology but they themselves are the machines,” says Sohn, 38.

"The Good Dinosaur" marks Peter Sohn's feature directorial debut. (Photo: Jesse Grant, Getty Images for Disney)

“The Good Dinosaur” marks Peter Sohn’s feature directorial debut. (Photo: Jesse Grant, Getty Images for Disney)

A Pixar regular since working in the animation and story departments on 2003’s Finding Nemo, Sohn explains that his parents, both Korean immigrants, inspired different sides of his career. His trips to the theater with his mom were an impetus to start working in the universal language of animation, and Arlo’s absolute love for his father in Good Dinosaur reflects that of Sohn’s feelings about his dad.

The filmmaker barely saw his father when he was growing up in New York City because of all the hours that he worked at a grocery store owned by his parents.

“He woke up at 4, went to the market at 5 to get all the stuff, and then worked to 11,” Sohn says. “As an adult now, I really respect that he worked that hard to give us a life.”

Attribution: USA Today

 
 

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