In anticipation of Thursday’s show, in which we discuss The Land Before Time, we’ve decided to rank our Top 5 Least-Threatening Movie Dinosaurs (because we’re adults, and we can spend our time however we like).
Note: We didn’t include any of the characters from The Land Before Time, because we’ll be talking a lot about them on the podcast, nor did we put Barney the dinosaur on this list, because we do, in fact, consider him to be threatening.
5. Rex from Toy Story
What could be threatening about Rex? He’s 8 inches tall, made of green plastic and is meant to be a beloved toy for children. Voiced by prolific character actor Wallace Shawn, neither his nasally roar nor his cowardly blathering is particularly scary, even if Andy believes him to be “The meanest, most terrifying dinosaur who ever lived”. You see, Rex is only a terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex when imagined as terrifying. But if you really think about it, since dinosaurs are extinct, well, they’re only terrifying in our imagination as well.
The only thing more terrifying I can imagine is if actor Wallace Shawn were actually a carnivorous dinosaur– If he were, he might have starred in a little Louis Malle film called My Dinner IS Andre.
4. Baby from Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend
What could be less threatening than a baby dinosaur named Baby? Critically lambasted upon its release in 1985, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend concerns a family of dinosaurs living in the African jungle, for some reason. A husband and wife team of Paleontologists (Sean Young and William Katt) try to protect the aptly-named Baby (their second-choice for a name was “dinosaur”) from evil hunters played by Patrick McGoohan and Julian Fellowes. Of course, it’s debatable who you’d rather have in charge of a real-live dinosaur, the guy from The Prisoner and the creator of Downton Abbey, or The Greatest American Hero and the lady who dressed up like Catwoman that one time.
Borrowing its dinosaur special effects from a dinosaur-themed mini-golf course, the film is not especially good… at all… but the vulnerability of the titular character is memorable, warranting its inclusion on this list.
3. Yoshi from Super Mario Bros.
When it was announced there would be a Super Mario Bros. movie, everybody was sure Mario’s cool new egg-laying dino-companion from his SNES game would at least make a kick-ass cameo. We would not be disappointed– except in every conceivable way possible. Re-imagined here as the pre-historic puppy that Dennis Hopper’s King Koopa kicks whenever he gets angry, this sad looking, animatronic Yoshi was perhaps the real “Game Over” point of this stupid movie, forcing us children to ask whether the mushroom kingdom was worth saving after all.
It didn’t help that Yoshi had to measure up to the dinosaurs of Jurrasic Park, which also came out in 1993. Steven Spielberg used a blend of animatronics and CGI to make dinosaurs that seemed realistic and scary. In stark contrast, this movie’s Yoshi looks more like a child’s hand-puppet that was left in a dirty puddle.
2. Theodore Rex from Theodore Rex
I can only assume that the origin of writer/director Jonathan R. Betuel’s film Theodore Rex stemmed from the inherent comedic potential of noticing that both “Tyrannosaurus” and “Theodore” begin with the same letter. Following that line of thinking to its natural conclusion, we have a movie in which Oscar-Winner Whoopi Goldberg plays a cop teamed up with a talking dinosaur (in a future-world where society has resurrected dinosaurs and given them the ability to speak and wear sneakers, for some reason).
While Theodore is inarguably one of the least-threatening dinosaurs you could imagine, the problem with this movie is it’s fucking abysmal. This movie’s so bad that after verbally agreeing to star in it, Goldberg tried to back out and was slapped with a 20 million dollar lawsuit by the producers. She was literally was forced to do this movie!
Plus, the movie cost 33 million dollars! (to put that in perspective with another shitty 1995 sci-fi movie, Johnny Mneumonic cost 19 million). 33 million and we get a dinosaur costume that looks less convincing than Earl from the show Dinosaurs. Not surprisingly this was Beutel’s final film, and I can only assume his subsequent years were spent coasting on the goodwill of having written The Last Starfighter.
1. The Velociraptors from The Lost World: Jurassic Park
While the Velociraptors were one of the most frightening elements of the original Jurassic Park, it was its sequel The Lost World that ultimately deflated any sense of threat the raptors posed. How? In the most infamous scene from the JP sequel, Jeff Goldblum’s daughter defeats the raptors by using only the power of gymnastics. Fucking gymnastics!
I’m sorry, but this scene not only tanks the climax of The Lost World, it retroactively negates the impact of the previous movie. Think about it– if, say, Michael Myers had that happen to him in one of the Halloween sequels, would he still be scary in the original Halloween? Hell no! Every time he was onscreen you’d be like, “Hey, there’s that asshole who got kicked in the head by a little girl doing gymnastics. What an asshole.” Same thing here. Presumably, this is why the raptors were almost entirely absent in the third Jurassic Park. Also, if you want your movie monsters to endure the test of time, don’t name a basketball team after them.