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We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story

Starring: John Goodman, Rhea Perlman
Director: Dick Zondag
Rated: G
RunTime: 75 Minutes
Release Date: November 1993
Genres: Animation, Kids

*Also starring: Rene LeVant, Blaze Berdahl, Jay Leno, Julia Child, Martin Short, Yeardley Smith

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

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 lunch treats.

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

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