NEW YORK (CNS) — For those who can’t tell a Gorgosaurus from a pterosaur, the 3-D, mostly animated adventure “Walking With Dinosaurs” (Fox) is out to set you straight.
While undeniably educational on the subject of the world’s most famously extinct group of creatures, however, co-directors Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale’s film is only modestly entertaining.
This fictional, big-screen successor to the 1999 BBC television documentary of the same name tells the story of an underdog Pachyrhinosaurus — literally, “thick-nosed lizard” — named Patchi (voice of Justin Long).
With the encouragement of his best friend, Alex (voice of John Leguizamo) — a colorful prehistoric bird who narrates Patchi’s tale — and that of his true love Juniper (voice of Tiya Sircar), plucky Patchi overcomes a variety of obstacles to acquire determination, loyalty and courage as his herd migrates back and forth across what is now Alaska.
The barriers standing in Patchi’s path include a childhood disfigurement that draws the negative attention of some of his peers as well as the bullying ways of his domineering brother Scowler (voice of Skyler Stone).
Framing Patchi’s saga are brief live-action segments that introduce us to avid archaeologist Zack (Karl Urban) and his teen nephew, Ricky (Charlie Rowe). Having outgrown his youthful enthusiasm for dinos, Ricky is bored by Zack’s ongoing work with them. At least, that is, until Alex arrives on the scene to wow him with Patchi’s eventful biography.
Overall, there isn’t much to object to in all this, even if the special effects on display far outstrip the shopworn against-the-odds plot. Some potentially frightening situations might overwhelm the youngest moviegoers, while parents will likely sigh with resignation at the predictable smattering of mild gross-out jokes.
Along the same lines, grown-ups may also wonder why the word “butt” occurs so frequently in the dialogue, and why one character resorts to the vulgar expression “bite me.” Of course, in the context of two animals talking to each other, kids may innocently interpret that as a challenge from the stronger to the weaker to do something he lacks the moxie to attempt. Adults will have to hope so.
More troubling is the fact that screenwriter John Collee’s script includes the idea that whichever male becomes the leader of the pack automatically commands the companionship of its females, including — to Patchi’s temporary sorrow when Scowler takes over at one point — Juniper’s. However factual this may be, it seems a confusing concept to present to children, especially if they are misled by the anthropomorphized setting to imagine that it applies, to any extent, in the human realm.
The film contains some childish scatological humor and a single double entendre. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103