Dino Dana - The Movie Parent Guide
This is a decent educational movie with positive messages for kids, but it's overly long and bloated.
Parent Movie Review
Dana (Michela Luci) is a 10-year-old paleontologist in training with a field journal that gives her the ability to see dinosaurs in real life. She uses this unique situation to conduct experiments about dinosaur behavior and figure out answers to questions that paleontologists ask. Today she is conducting experiment 901: where are all the kid dinosaurs? With the help of her new neighbors, Jadiel (Richie Lawrence) and Mateo (Evan Whitten), and her big sister, Saara (Saara Chaudry), Dana sets out on an adventure to find the answer.
Dino Dana started out as a television show aimed at young children, and now it’s been turned into a feature film. I was not familiar with the series prior to today, but if the show is just a shorter version of the movie, I think I might add it to the list of programs my 3-year-old is allowed to watch. The premise of Dino Dana is creative and educational. Basically, Dana asks questions about dinosaurs and then imagines the dinosaurs in the real world so that she can test her hypotheses. She stresses that science is always changing, and that as we learn new information, we have to reevaluate past theories. I think this is a great way to teach young children about the scientific method while also having fun adventures, and I have never met a child who wasn’t at least a little bit interested in dinosaurs!
Unfortunately, being given a longer run time did not do Dino Dana any favors. The premise is stretched too thin to maintain the energy it needs for an hour and a quarter. There are some parts in the middle that drag as plot points get repeated to fill up time. The central hypothesis is pushed to the side for the entire second act. It feels like an overly long episode of television, not like a movie. Although there are lots of dinosaur facts sprinkled throughout, the science portion felt unfocused overall. The animation is lacking, but that is to be expected from a production of this size.
Where this film shines is in its themes outside of the science. There is a subplot where Dana’s older stepsister, Saara, is having to choose between living with her mom or her dad, as her mom must move far away for work. As a parallel, the new neighbors, Jadiel and Mateo, are stepbrothers. Mateo refers to Jadiel as his brother, and Jadiel always corrects him saying that he is his stepbrother. Along the adventure, all of the children learn what being a family means, whether you’re related by blood or not, and what it takes to be a good brother or sister. This message about blended families is handled really well, and I think it is an important learning moment for children of any family situation. The diversity of the cast along with its representations of a variety of types of families is appreciated and meaningful.
As an educational film, I think that Dino Dana the Movie is a great option for young children. It mixes lessons about science and family together in a way that is well suited for its intended audience. Unfortunately, it suffers because of its runtime and lack of production value, making it a dull watch for adults.Directed by J J Johnson. Starring Michela Luci, Saara Chaudry, Richie Lawrence, Evan Whitten. Running time: 85 minutes. Theatrical release September 4, 2020. Updated September 4, 2020
Watch the trailer for Dino Dana - The Movie
Dino Dana - The Movie
Rating & Content Info
Why is Dino Dana - The Movie rated PG? Dino Dana - The Movie is rated PG by the MPAA for some creature action and thematic elements
Violence: A meteor strikes the earth and knocks dinosaurs down. A Spinosaurus chases children, with the implied intent of trying to eat them. A Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus fight each other. A Quetzalcoatlus picks up a girl and carries her away. A herd of Triceratops stampede. There is no blood or injuries, and the peril is relatively minor.
Sexual Content: None
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated September 4, 2020
Dino Dana - The Movie Parents' Guide
How is a family defined? Are all members of a family identical? What does Jadiel learn about being a big brother? What does “blended family” mean?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Preschoolers with a fascination for dinos will enjoy Lucy Volpin’s rhyming descriptive book, We Love Dinosaurs. They will also get a kick out of Ten Little Dinosaurs. Written by Pattie Schnetzler and Jim Harris and features dinos with 3-D googly eyes.
Elementary school readers can dive into Abby Howard’s graphic novel, Dinosaur Empire: Journey Through the Mesozoic Era. Also with a graphic presentation is MK Reed and Joe Flood’s Science Comics: Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers.
Kids who want to know everything about dinosaurs can read DK’s Dinosaurs: A Visual Encyclopedia. Roger Priddy’s Dinosaur A to Z is also a great introduction for little paleontologists. And dino fans of any age will be enraptured by Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.
Related home video titles:
If you just can’t get enough of giant prehistoric reptiles, Dinotopia, with its four hour runtime should be what you’re looking for.
The Land Before Time brings animated dinosaurs to the big screen in a story geared at kids. The movie comes with four sequels. Prehistoric critters get their moment in the sun in the Ice Age series. A lonely boy befriends an equally lonely dinosaur in The Good Dinosaur.