Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

We’re Back!: A Dinosaur’s Story


Notes: Universal.Animated. 71 minutes.
Rex: John Goodman
Buster: Blaze Berdahl
Mother Bird: Rhea Perlman
Vorb: Jay Leno
Woog: Rene Levant
Elsa: Felicity Kendal
Dweeb: Charles Fletcher
Captain NewEyes: Walter Cronkite
Dr. Bleeb: Julia Child
Cecilia Nuthatch: Yeardley Smith (Bart Simpson)
Louie: Joey Shea
Professor ScrewEyes: Kenneth Mars
Stubbs the Clown: Martin Short

Executive Producers: Steven Spielberg, FrankMarshall, Kathleen Kennedy
Producer: Stephen Hickner
Directors: Dick Zondag, Ralph Zondag, PhilNibbelink, Simon Wells
Screenplay: John Patrick Shanley
Based on Book by: Hudson Talbott
Music: James Horner.

Summary: Agolf ball brings us to a tree where baby birds play an acorn gameand scream like human brats. The parents bring a worm and Georgethe father bird announces: “Here’s food; fight over it.”Mother bird protests gently but he says, “Only way they’lllearn.” Buster is declared a “momma’s bird.” Whenhe attempts to fly the nest, a golfing dinosaur, first seen ina hubcap reflection (John Goodman half attempting to be Bing Crosby),prepares to tell Buster a story of his own past in which he was”an animal,” “hungry all the time” in theold days.

We cut to a scene of dino predation, interruptedby a spaceship and an annoying creature resembling the Honey-NutCheerios bee, who does PR for “Brain Gran Cereal” whichwill help dinosaurs evolve. The Rex is force-fed by machine andjoins the other three dinosaurs who sell the notion of eatinghot dogs to him: “Take it on faith, Rex; you wanna hot dog.”Captain NewEyes from the future invented the cereal and a “wishradio” which reveals bubbles of brats greedily begging: “Iwish I could see a T. Rex.” Others want to see flying dinosaurs,an Apatosaurus, a Triceratops. The Captain insists to the dinosaursthat the brats are wishing “for you,” and that now they’resmart enough to make up their own minds, whatever the hell thatmeans under these circumstances. Travelling to the “middlefuture,” they are warned to seek out Dr. Bleeb of the Museumof Natural History and to beware the Captain’s evil brother, ProfessorScrewEyes (odd that he has a different last name), since he is,after all, cruel and insane due to the loss of one of his eyes.

The dinosaurs parachute into New York Cityand meet the gat-toothed “I wish I had a friend” runaway,Louie, who uses a crane to save Rex from drowning (and there’sa switch!). Louie takes a screaming flight with the Pterodactyl,sees the Thanksgivings Day Parade, meets a brat chick whose parentsare never around (boo-fucking-hoo-hoo — I should have been solucky). “Come fly with me,” says Louie, before landingamong leering dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs enter the parade and parentseverywhere say, “They’re not real dinosaurs; they’re robots.”With a reluctant romance between Cecilia and Louie, there is thepretense that the dinosaurs “swing” musically. One lyricruns, “Just imagine how I must feel; / Human beings — whata meal!” And a marquee in the background reads JurassicPark.

The cops start in, and the dinosaurs are fugitives.Louie and Cecilia go to Central Park to meet up with ProfessorScrewEyes and his Eccentric Circus where they sign a vaguely evilcontract. ScrewEyes has a machine to identify children’s fears,and he plans to use his invented formula, the Brain Drain, toturn the dinosaurs into monsters. The dinosaurs agree to thisfor the sake of the brats.

Stubbs the Clown (Martin Short doing Lou Costello)alerts the brats to the situation. At the Circus of Fear, amidexplosions and a hell-mouth (and revelatory shots of a technicalcontrol board — a visual confession), ScrewEyes announces, “Igive you monsters!” In particular, he shows off his hypnoticcontrol of Rex, “The ultimate set of teeth in the historyof the world.” He brags that the creature they all fear isunder his control: “I am the master of fear.” When Rexsnatches the Professor, Louie intervenes to save him, and admitsthat toughness is a mask for fear. Hugs ensue. The spaceship returns,beaming the shackles to free the other dinos. Gender-politicsare involved in kiss-rendering, and the Pterodactyl tells Rexthat “the way you look at me, it makes me want to lay anegg.”

Stubbs quits the circus, and when the Captainand the rest ride off, ScrewEyes ends pathetically alone. Crowscover him and when they fly off he is gone except for his metalliceye, which another crow snatches and flies off with.

The final plan is for the dinosaurs to pretendto be statues until all adults are banned outside the exhibit;then Dr. Bleeb reveals the live dinos to screaming brats of allnations. Captain Cronkite draws the curtain, saying, “Andthat’s the way it is.” “And that’s what happened,”says Rex to the bird. We see photos of Louie and Cecilia, who”made up with their parents.” We bid good-night to the”little tough guy,” who hugs his mother despite tauntsfrom siblings about being “momma’s little birdy.”

Commentary:An interesting attempt at guilt-expiation from Spielberg, servingonly to damn him further to a level of repetition-compulsion Hellthe likes of which Dante never dreamed. That Jurassic Parkshows up on the marquee in the background and yet this cartoonserves as exposée to techniques of manipulating the massesamounts to a sort of interfilmic mutual masturbation. All theyoung — both avian and Japanimation / Precious-Moments / dentist-office-poster-single-white-wedge-as-all-top-teethbrats — scream constantly. Although he no doubt thinks he’s beingentertaining and Dickensianly sentimental, the half-assed attemptat paleopsychoanalysis is typical Spielbergian stupidity. Finalword? Disgusting.