Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur: We Know So Little, Yet Expect So Much

By  · Published on October 6th, 2015


Up to this point, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur has had a mostly quiet promotional period. While its production was marred with some behind-the-scenes turmoil, the run up to its November 25 release date has been subdued. Its first teaser trailer, released in June, was light on story and completely lacking in voices, as the voice cast was being reshuffled late in production.

The first full trailer was more of a (very pretty) music video than anything else:

Just this past week, Pixar released a second full trailer that gave us a first listen to its final voice cast, which includes Jeffrey Wright, Steve Zahn, Anna Paquin, Frances McDormand and Alan Tudyk.

So while we knew the basics of the story – it’s about a world in which the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and it’s about the friendship between a green dinosaur and a small feral child – we are only now really getting to know The Good Dinosaur, which has been made under the guidance of director Peter Sohn, a longtime Pixar storyboard artist. What we know now is that there’s a real Land Before Time vibe going on in that last trailer. And when we take into account these new character descriptions, released today by the folks at Pixar, the story is coming into focus, if only a little bit. Will the fact that The Good Dinosaur has been slow to show us all of its tricks be a benefit to the final product? Does knowing less about a property leave us with more room to be surprised? It certainly might.

For those who do want to know more, here are the character descriptions for the denizens of The Good Dinosaur:

The last to hatch among his siblings and the smallest, 11-year-old Arlo has yet to make his mark on his family’s farm. Though he is eager to help out with chores, this sheltered Apatosaurus just can’t seem to get past his fear of everything. So when Arlo falls into a river and finds himself swept hundreds of miles away from home, he’s forced to face his fear for the first time in his life, braving the harsh, untamed wilderness and a long, arduous journey home. Along the way, Arlo develops an unlikely friendship with a human boy named Spot who helps him realize he is capable of much more than he ever thought.

Spot is a wild, tough and tenacious human boy who has lived alone in the wilderness for much of his life. He speaks in only grunts and growls, but his strengths are clear: he’s fearless, confident and a survivalist. Spot quickly proves to be a great resource to Arlo, and slowly, becomes a friend.

Brave and selfless, Poppa is a devoted husband and father, working tirelessly to make a life for his family on their farm. He has a soft spot for Arlo, his small and fearful son, and takes special care of him as he grows up. Poppa believes in Arlo and knows that with enough perseverance, Arlo can overcome his fear and make his mark.

A loving wife and mother, Momma is smart and quick-witted. She’s a hard worker with a lot of love for her family, and she keeps her children and their farm in order. Her quiet strength is the backbone of the family.

Buck is Arlo’s brother: they’re the same age, but Buck is bigger, stronger and a little rambunctious. He likes to tease his fearful brother as often as he can – and Arlo is an easy target. Buck’s size, strength and confidence allow him to do things that Arlo can’t imagine doing – like ripping a tree out of the ground with his teeth.

Arlo’s sister Libby is a capable and willful girl who can plow a mean field. The little trickster has a great sense of humor, and loves playing silly pranks on her family.

Forrest Woodbush is a mysterious Styracosaurus who lives in the wilderness. Like Arlo, he harbors unreasonable fears. His ability to blend into his surroundings helps – along with an unusual (but not-exactly-fierce) collection of forest critters he’s recruited to protect him.

Butch is a rugged and intimidating Tyrannosaurus Rex – showcased by the gruesome scar across his face. A veteran rancher who’s a real pro when it comes to herding longhorns, Butch encourages his kids Ramsey and Nash to learn by doing, hurling them into one hairy situation after another. Butch likes nothing better than trading war-stories over a campfire at the end of a long day.

A fearless, whip-smart and no-nonsense Tyrannosaurus Rex rancher, Ramsey loves the challenge of driving a herd of longhorns with her father, Butch, and her little brother Nash. Ramsey has a lively, outgoing personality – she likes good jokes, tells a mean story and has a soft spot for those in need.

An enthusiastic young Tyrannosaurus Rex, Nash lives for adventure, and loves when something unexpected breaks up the routine of rounding up longhorns with his father, Butch, and his big sister Ramsey. He isn’t the sharpest of spurs and has trouble keeping track of their herd, but his mischievous charm and positive attitude make him good company out on the range.

The Pterodactyls are a search-and-“rescue” team of five. They like to sit back and let the often-treacherous storms in this part of the world do their dirty work, then reap the benefits of the devastation. But when these flying hunter-scavengers set their sights on Spot and Arlo, they’re in for a big surprise.

Raptors prey on the prized herd of longhorns that belong to Butch and his Tyrannosaurus Rex family. Raptors – or Rustlers, as Butch calls them – sport wiry, feathered bodies and hardly compare in size or strength to a T-Rex. But as a group, the Raptors pose quite a threat, and even a T-Rex may need to call in reinforcements before tangling with them.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)