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Most of the story in Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur follows its main character, Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), as he journeys back home with a dog-like human friend after being swept away in a river – but all of it operates on top of a larger theme about the importance of family. In the first act of the film, Arlo is taught by his father, voiced by Jeffrey Wright, about the need to pull one’s weight and think beyond himself. It’s a subject that’s touched upon multiple times throughout the movie, and because of this Wright believes that the movie will have a very special effect on relationships between parents and their children.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Wright at Los Angeles press day for The Good Dinosaur, and it was while discussing the film that he revealed not only his thoughts about how parents and children would respond to the movie, but also his personal experiences with it. Discussing the emotional impact that the animated feature delivers, Wright explained,
I can only say that watching the movie with my kids only stirred up serious emotion and reflection and celebration of our relationships. I think parents experiencing this with children, children experiencing it with their parents, is going to be as it was for me - an emotional roller coaster - but at the end of the day a celebration of all of those things that make up family. Because if you’re breathing and caring you just spend so much of this movie calling on your experiences as a parent or as a son, or a daughter, and it’s a pretty vivid experience in that way.
After being washed so far away from his home that he can’t even see the mountain peaks the rise above it, what really drives Arlo to make his way back home are two things: his memories of his father and his desire to be back with his mother (Frances MacDormand). In the first act of the film, we watch Arlo grow up on a farm and really struggle to do his part – but it’s his father who continues to push him to always put in his best and make contribution to the greater good. The young Apatosaurus is instilled with these values, and it makes him push as hard as he can to return to the homestead so that he can help his mother prepare for the coming winter.
This week in America is very much about family, as people everywhere will be sitting down with their relatives for Thanksgiving, so it only seems appropriate that The Good Dinosaur will be out on Wednesday, November 25th.