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The Land Before Time (1988)

November 9, 2010

7/10 Tree Stars

Quite the Debbie Downer for a kid’s movie, but jam-packed with more nostalgia factor than an ’80s baby can handle.

The Land Before Time is about five little dinosaurs who get separated from their respective families after 526 earthquakes take place over the course of five minutes because the Earth is a total mess of volcanoes and tar swamps. With a T-Rex hot on their tails and only each other to rely on, they head off towards the sunset in search of The Great Valley where their families are waiting for them amongst a veritable feast of leaves that would make any herbivore spontaneously combust with sheer excitement.

God, it’d been eons since I last saw this movie. Growing up, I had a few staples that my parents would always slap into the VCR so that I would stop begging them to get me another Happy Meal before I had a meltdown like they wouldn’t believe. There was The Neverending Story, my precious Ninja Turtles re-runs, some Mickey Mouse Valentine’s Day special that was set to Taylor Dane’s “Tell It to My Heart” because the ’80s were just that awesome, and of course there was The Land Before Time. All of these things were viewed ad nauseum by little Aiden and let me assure you that he loved every minute of it, Happy Meal or no Happy Meal…but preferably with Happy Meal.

So watching this again way down the line as a grown-ass man really was something else. With each new scene that elicited one new flood of childhood memories after another, I couldn’t help but turn to my good buddy Fred (who remembered the movie vividly) to continually remind him that “This is crazy,” and “I remember that!” Fred was kind enough to nod politely during the full hour and change that I kept him updated on subject, but not since rediscovering Beauty and the Beast has a movie taken me on such a thorough trip down memory lane.

And as much as I’d like to say that it’s 20 times better than I remember it, a lot of the love for this one goes back to my being raised on it. In comparison to something like The Little Mermaid that came out just one year later, this doesn’t really hold a candle to anything that came out of the Disney studios during their glory days. The artwork looks dated, the writing and humor is nothing special, and the characters are canned. One of those animated efforts that the parents are gonna get dragged to and the kids are gonna love, end of story. Even with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas attached as producers, this wasn’t exactly setting the bar.

But the story is fine, it ain’t the most original thing out there, but it’s a good way to teach the youngin’s some of the basic life lessons. Then again, the two main issues we’re dealing with right off the bat are dinosaur racism and learning to move on after your mom dies.

Yikes. Guess you have to have that conversation some day…

It does cheer up as the plot progresses and you can bet your sweet bippy that there’s a happy ending in store (because nothing screams “happy ending” like the life of a dinosaur), but even I was pretty bummed out by the sad turn of events that take place during the first Act.

Some awfully memorable music though. Sounds like a mix between the Jurassic Park theme and E.T., and that’s alright by me.

But as much as I can weigh the pros and cons of this movie, it’s almost not even worth it. When the day finally comes where I take on the mantle of “Pops”, I’ll undoubtedly be crying and laughing with my kids when I introduce them to the Toy Story trilogy, I’ll absolutely be vegging out during the inevitable Spongebob marathons when father and son/daughter start faking sick together, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that The Land Before Time will find its way into the collection of family favorites, too. I grew up on it, it’s an Aiden classic, and as much as I can be a nitpicky blogger about it, it’s pointless for me to bother with the flaws.

Man, being a kid was sweet, huh?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2010 6:55 am

    I haven’t seen this in so long, and I just remember this movie having me so upset by the fact that the mother dies, and how he’s trying to cope with it. I just still can’t believe they made about 15 more sequels to this. Nice Review!

    • November 9, 2010 12:50 pm

      haha. thanks, man. no idea how i missed the whole dead mother bit as a kid, but what a bummer, huh? something tells me the sequels don’t quite measure up.

  2. Ryan permalink
    November 9, 2010 9:48 am

    Are you going to review Land Before Time 2-13? I hear around 10 it starts getting pretty dicey. I think Littlefoot develops a mean crack addiction.

    • November 9, 2010 12:52 pm

      hahaha. if that’s case, you bet your ass i’m watching ’em.

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