In 1993 Steven Spielberg decided to turn his attention away from
live action films featuring dinosaurs (JURASSIC PARK) to cartoons with
dinosaurs. WE'RE BACK! A DINOSAUR'S STORY was produced by Spielberg in
an apparent attempt to cash in on the dinosaur craze by making a film
for kids so young as to be scared out of their wits by JURASSIC PARK.
If creating a non-offensive movie filled with sweet dinosaurs who have
had a lot of time on their hands and not much to do is a measure of
success, then the movie accomplishes what it set out to do. Young
kids, say those under 8, will find the film pleasantly diverting albeit
not highly memorable. Adults and older children will find little to
hold their interest.
The story is a simple time travel one. Captain NewEyes (Walter
Cronkite) goes back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. He wants to
get a nice collection to bring back to the present so he can exhibit
them in a museum where they will be a live exhibit that will interact
with the museum visitors. Bringing them back presents a bit of
difficulty in that dinosaurs in the wild are ferocious and liable to
eat him. Moreover, wild dinosaurs will probably not be on their best
behavior in the museum and will treat the visitors as delectable little
Captain NewEyes solves this problem with his invention of a cereal
he calls Brain Grain. Once the animals eat the cereal, they get an
instant IQ and can converse in fluent English. Being smart, they no
longer want to eat humans and are happy to chew the fat with them
instead. I will not go into all of the logical flaws here since this
is a kids show afterall. With cereal in hand, the good captain manages
to capture Rex the tyrannosaurus rex (John Goodman), Elsa the
pterodactyl (Felicity Kendal), Woog the triceratops (Rene Levant) and
Dweeb the apatosaurus (Charles Fleischer). He takes them all back with
him to the present.
This scheme is put in jeopardy by Captain NewEyes's evil brother
known as Professor ScrewEyes (Kenneth Mars). The evil professor wants
to steal the animals and put them in his Circus of Fear where they will
frighten rather than delight the kiddies. Personally, I think P. T.
Barnum would have preferred Professor ScrewEyes plans as more
lucrative, but P. T. did not make an appearance in the film.
After the set up of the plot, not a lot happens. The characters
are all sweet enough, too sweet if anything, but the script by Patrick
Shanley based on the book by Hudson Talbott gives them little to do and
few lines of any merit. The directors (Phil Nibbelink, Simon Wells,
Dick Zondag, and Ralph Zondag) have no sense of what they want to
accomplish other than have dinosaurs and not take risks. The only risk
with the movie is terminal boredom.
WE'RE BACK! A DINOSAUR'S STORY runs just 1:12, which is good. It
is correctly rated G and if there was an MG (Much less than G)
category, it would get it. These characters would not even think an
offensive thought. My son Jeffrey (almost 7) liked the movie, but I
can not recommend it. I do give it * 1/2 for its wholesomeness.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes