Review: MY PET DINOSAUR (2017)

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A small town with a lot of problems. A young boy with a lot of problems, many of them family related. Add some strange happenings that need to be kept from the local adults, It’s a familiar enough starting point for a movie, especially one aimed at kids. MY PET DINOSAUR is the latest to do so, though I doubt it will be the last. Just like it’s neither the best film of its kind or the worst.

Brightwood is a typical small American town (the film itself is Australian), or at least it was until people started dying of cancer at an alarming rate. Something that may be connected to the military base nearby.

Jake (Jordan Dulieu) and Mike (Harrison Saunders FREAKSHOW) lost their father to cancer leaving their mother Jennifer (Beth Champion) to deal with their increasingly problematic behavior. Jake has become withdrawn while his brother has become the opposite, rebellious and in trouble with the law. That, however, is about to become the least of anyone’s problems.

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After sneaking out one night with his friends led by the UFO-obsessed Charles (Tom Rooney), Jake finds some kind of strange goo. When accidentally mixed with a protein shake it turns into a cute, playful little dinosaur he names Magnus. Jake and his buddies need to keep it hidden so it won’t be taken and experimented on. But that gets harder as Magnus keeps growing at an extraordinary rate.

The obvious parallel here is to ET. Right down to the villainous military types led by Colonel Roderick (Rowland Holmes). He’s the type who has no problem threatening the scientist sent by the EPA, Dr. Tansy (Christopher Gabardi). “It would be a shame if something happened to you. Or your daughter” he hisses. Said daughter, Abbie (Annabel Wolfe), is, of course, a science whiz and one of Jake’s co-conspirators.

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This is writer/director Matt Drummond’s second attempt at a family friendly dinosaur film, the first being DINOSAUR ISLAND. His main gig is as a VFX guy and it shows here. Magnus is equal parts cute and fearsome with lots of personality. There’s a great chase scene involving the critter and some police cars that shows what the creature can do without losing sympathy for him in the process.

MY PET DINOSAUR has its big problem in the script. The dialogue is clunky, possibly the result of trying to Americanize everything. The characters are cliches going about their business in a by the numbers fashion. There’s not much to hold an adult’s interest when Magnus isn’t on screen.

But then, MY PET DINOSAUR isn’t really a film for adults. There’s enough to keep the kids happy on a weekend afternoon and that’s what matters. Adults might want to think twice about watching along with them however.

 MY PET DINOSAUR will be available on Digital 10/2 and DVD 11/6 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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MY PET DINOSAUR
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