Back before there was Barney the big purple dinosaur, there was a different set of dinosaur friends that kids could look to for educationalÂ entertainment: Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike. Almost two decades, a television show, and twelve sequels later, these lovable dinosaur pals are still kicking and The Land Before Time has become a billion-dollar franchise.
With the release of The Wisdom of Friends, the 13th film in the series, director Charles Grosvenor, who has helmed the series since the fifth film, has recruited the voice talents of falling star Cuba Gooding Jr. and rising starÂ Sandra Oh as a pair of bumbling Yellow Belly dinosaurs aptly named Loofah and Doofah. Though these are big names, it’s still the Land Before Time moniker that sells the film.
This installment focuses on baby brontosaurus Littlefoot as he tries to learn the “wisdoms” of his grandparents, thoughÂ his jokester friends Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and the gruntnig Spike, call these parental guidelinesÂ the “gotta-dos” and the “say-sos.” As the kids set out to learn the “wisdoms” they stumble upon the seemingly dim-witted Yellow Bellys and decide to help them find their herd: a group of blabbering dinos reminiscent of Jar-Jar Binks with tail feathers.
As the team navigates the dangers of sharp tooth and a lack of water, there are a few new songs that are catchy enough, though not exceptional. Watching the Yellow Bellys way of life, the young dinos learn that everyone has their own set of wisdoms and they come to accept the strange dinosaurs, even though they may be different.
The simpleÂ story lends itself to the enjoyment of the very young, and parents will be glad to see their kids enjoying such a positive, fun-filled film. The running time and the animation make the feature feel more like three episodes of the tv show run together, and an included tvÂ episode of The Land Before Time series (“The Hidden Canyon”) serves as an example of how well the characters work inÂ the shortened format.
The DVD also features a few games that kids might play once, but there’s no lasting enjoyment there. This straight-to-video series may seem like it’s been around since before time began, but the storylinesÂ are strong enoughÂ and the characters are fun, so as long as there is a market, there’s sure to be more adventures in The Land Before Time.
Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Dinousaur-loving kids and positive-message-loving parents
Stay Away if: Thirteen is your unlucky number, especially when we’re talking sequels