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Soundtrack review: The good dinosaur (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna – 2015)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The good dinosaur (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna – 2015)


The Good Dinosaur”” is a 2015 American 3D computer-animated adventure comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. I don’t even need to read the plot…it’s Disney, it’s Pixar, it’s a winner. This one is an epic journey into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. Luckily for young Arlo, his parents and his two siblings, the mighty dinosaurs were not wiped out 65 million years ago. When a rainstorm washes poor Arlo downriver, he ends up bruised, battered and miles away from home. Good fortune shines on the frightened dino when he meets a Neanderthal boy who offers his help and friendship. The brother team of Mychael and Jeff Danna wrote the score and for me they always deliver. They rarely shine, except in Celtic sounding scores, but i’ve rarely heard a disappointing score from them.

I am surprised by the folksy and almost country music opening on the score. The melodic line makes me think of the safety of a campfire in the middle of the wilderness. In the beginning of the score it seems that the composers went for a playful harmonica and guitar sound that firmly sets this score in animation land. I like the way the music makes me feel. The choice to go with the country music sound is also very interesting and helps me warm up to the score very fast. The first half of „The good dinosaur” is homely and welcoming and it charms me with its sweet and innocent beginning. I wasn’t expecting to want to cuddle up to this score. Usually Pixar scores tend to be spectacular and action packed. I remember a lot of them. Not this one though. More than halfway through it and all I remember are tender flute sounds and country strings.

During some cues I get the impression that they are presented on this album in the form they appear in in the movie. I feel the music follows something, the on screen images probably and would work much better in context. “Orphans” seems to mark a change of pace. It’s the end of the sweet part and the introduction to the tension and action. The overall tone of the score doesn’t change though: it stays intimate and warm and more contained than your usual Pixar extravaganza. This is why I will remember the score, it has a special place in its genre because of the way the composers chose to deal with the story. This is one to watch and listen to with your kinds on the holidays.

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 63

Album excellence: 18%


Family Struggle


The Storm

Arlo’s Vision


Arlo Makes His Mark



Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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