In a world where dinosaurs never became extinct and humans roam the wild,
Disney-Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” features a simple, relatable story in
which an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend.
“It’s the story of a boy and his dog—only in our story, the boy is a
dinosaur and the dog is a boy,” says director Peter Sohn.
“It’s also a coming-of-age story,” adds Sohn. “Arlo is afraid everything.
But his father, Poppa, is always there for him, encouraging Arlo to step
out of his comfort zone, to confront his fears, to make his mark.”
“Arlo is young and vulnerable,” says character art director Matt Nolte.
“He’s so unsure of himself and we wanted to capture that in his look. He’s
smaller and thinner than his siblings.”
“Poppa is powerful and capable,” adds Nolte. “He has perfect posture and he
walks in a straight line—he knows where he’s going—whereas Arlo actually
His siblings, sister Libby and brother Buck, are bigger than Arlo from the
very beginning. Work and chores around the farm seem to come easily to
them, which only shines a brighter light on Arlo’s inabilities. Arlo
desperately wants to impress his family, but finds himself falling short
time after time.
“Poppa gives Arlo a job—a mission to earn his mark,” says Sohn. “Arlo is
tasked with catching a critter, a pest who’s eating the food they’ve stored
for the winter. At last, Arlo has a chance to prove his worth. But in the
end, he can’t do it. He can’t kill this creature he’s captured, and he sets
it free, much to his father’s disappointment.”
Poppa’s subsequent tough-love lesson turns tragic, and Arlo has trouble
coping. “He blames the critter for everything,” says Sohn.
Arlo‘s anger ultimately results in a major misstep that leaves him lost and
far from home. His chances for survival are dubious until an unexpected
ally shows up and lends a hand. The critter, later dubbed Spot, doesn’t
venture far from Arlo—despite the dinosaur’s angry feelings about him.
“Spot is really the opposite of Arlo,” says story supervisor Kelsey Mann.
“He’s incredibly brave, tenacious and resourceful. He’s been out in the
wilderness his entire life. So Arlo is forced to lean on Spot for support.”
The unlikely friends embark on an eventful journey through stunning but
often unforgiving environments in an effort to get Arlo home. Along the
way, they encounter an array of intriguing characters, including a family
of T-Rexes. According to Mann, they’re the dinosaur version of cowboys.
“They’re ranchers—quiet, intimidating, tough and massive. They play a big
role in opening Arlo’s eyes to his fear.”
The T-Rexes were largely inspired by a family in the Pacific Northwest that
some of the production team met. Filmmakers were captivated by their way of
life after a research trip to their ranch, where they took part in moving
cattle on horseback. Says Sohn, “It wasn’t even a about the cattle—though
it was thrilling to see hundreds of them eyeballing us. But the way the
members of this big family love each other and teach each other made such
* Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 25, “The Good Dinosaur” is
distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through
**Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in
the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter)
@disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #GoodDinoPH.