We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (film)

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We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
We're Back! Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byDick Zondag
Ralph Zondag
Phil Nibbelink
Simon Wells
Produced bySteve Hickner
Screenplay byJohn Patrick Shanley
Based onWe're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
by Hudson Talbott
Music byJames Horner
Edited byNick Fletcher
Sim Evan-Jones
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 24, 1993 (1993-11-24)
Running time
71 minutes
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom
Box office$9.3 million (US)[1]

We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story is a 1993 British-American animated film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio and distributed by Universal Pictures.[2] Based on the 1987 Hudson Talbott children's book of the same name,[3] the film was directed by Dick Zondag, Ralph Zondag, Phil Nibbelink, and Simon Wells from a screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, and features the voices of John Goodman, Rhea Perlman, Jay Leno, Charles Fleischer, Walter Cronkite, Julia Child, Kenneth Mars, Yeardley Smith and Martin Short.

The film was released in theaters in the United States on November 24, 1993. It received negative reviews from critics, with some praising its animation, musical score, and voice performances, but many criticizing its short running time, narrative, and lack of proper character development.


In New York City, an Eastern bluebird named Buster runs away from his siblings and he meets an intelligent orange Tyrannosaurus named Rex, who is playing golf. He explains to Buster that he was once a ravaging dinosaur, and proceeds to tell his personal story.

In a prehistoric jungle, Rex is terrorizing other dinosaurs when a spaceship lands on Earth, piloted by an alien named Vorb. Vorb captures Rex and gives him "Brain Grain", a breakfast cereal that anthropomorphizes Rex and vastly increases his intelligence. Rex is introduced to other dinosaurs, altered by the Brain Grain: a blue Triceratops named Woog, a purple Pteranodon named Elsa, and a green Parasaurolophus named Dweeb. They soon meet Vorb's employer Captain Neweyes, the inventor of Brain Grain, who reveals his goal of allowing the children of the present time to see real dinosaurs. He plans to take them to Dr. Julia Bleeb who will guide them to the Museum of Natural History and warns them to keep away from Professor Screweyes, his nefarious and evil brother who travels around causing mischief after losing his left eye several years ago.

Neweyes drops the dinosaurs off in the Hudson River in the year 1993 AD, but they are unable to meet with Dr. Bleeb. Instead, they meet a young boy named Louie, who plans on running away to join the circus. Louie agrees to help the dinosaurs get to the museum. Riding on Elsa, Louie soon encounters a girl named Cecilia, who is miserable with her life because of her neglectful parents. She agrees to run away with Louie and help the dinosaurs, and when she threw away her Thanksgiving hat, it lands on a little girl who wished for a similar hat and ends up granting her wish. To prevent mass panic, Louie decides that the dinosaurs need to stay hidden during their journey to the museum. He disguises them as floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But when Rex sees the Apatosaurus balloon coming out in the parade, Rex greets it, thinking it is real and already-intelligent like he is. Then in the process of hand-shaking, Rex unwittingly punctures the balloon, causing it to run out of air and fall on the dinosaurs, but left them unharmed. When the audience realize that live dinosaurs are among them, they fly into a panic, and the dinosaurs flee to Central Park while being pursued by the police and the army.

Meanwhile, Louie and Cecilia meet Professor Screweyes, who is running his "Eccentric Circus". Unaware of Screweyes' sinister nature, the children sign a contract to perform in his circus troupe. When the dinosaurs arrive at the circus, Screweyes explains that he delights in scaring people and believes that the dinosaurs would make a great addition to his circus. Using his "Brain Drain", pills that are the polar opposite of his brother's Brain Grain, Screweyes devolves Louie and Cecilia into chimpanzees. When he offers the dinosaurs to consume the pills and join his circus as a ransom in exchange for the two children's freedom, they reluctantly accept and Screweyes releases Louie and Cecilia, agreeing to tear up their contract in the process. Knowing their friendship will be lost forever, Rex transforms Louie and Cecilia back to their human forms with his gentle pats. And before leaving, he sadly tells the two children to remember him.

As the kids awake the next morning, they are greeted by a circus clown named Stubbs, who works for Professor Screweyes, serves them breakfast and explains everything. Upon seeing the dinosaurs returned to their natural savage states, Louie and Cecilia plan to sneak into the night's show and save the dinosaurs with Stubbs' help.

That night, Professor Screweyes opens his circus with a parade of demons and evil spirits, and then unveils the dinosaurs to the terrified audience. Screweyes says he can control Rex, and proceeds to hypnotize him, while bragging that he is never afraid. However, a crow unintentionally activates the flare lights, breaking Rex out of the trance. Realizing he has been tricked, Rex becomes enraged and attempts to eat Screweyes, making him afraid after his talk. However, Louie steps in and desperately talks Rex out of killing Screweyes. His and Cecilia's impassioned pleas and loving touches return Rex and the other dinosaurs to their kind and friendly natures. Just then, Captain Neweyes arrives in his ship and congratulates Louie and Cecilia, who proceed to kiss, while Stubbs puts on an act announcing his resignation from Professor Screweyes' employ which wins the audience over with laughter. Neweyes, Louie, Cecilia and the dinosaurs board the aircraft, leaving Screweyes to be swarmed upon and devoured by the crows and one crow flies off with his now powerless screw.

The dinosaurs spend the rest of their days in the museum, allowing children to see live dinosaurs, and thus fulfilling their wishes. Back in the present, Rex tells Buster that he and his fellow dinosaurs are still in the museum. He also reveals that Louie and Cecilia have reconciled with their respective parents and become a couple.

Rex returns Buster to his family, ignoring his brothers' taunts while hugging his mom, and Rex tells him to remember his story before leaving for the museum.

Voice cast[edit]


Production and development on We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story began at Universal City Studios in Universal City, California and Amblimation in London in May 1989, at the time An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) and Balto (1995) were also in production. As in a five-year production schedule, it takes four years for the film to be made. In January 1990, after the film's voice actors recorded their voices for the characters, animating and filming began. The animators drew storyboards, and used cameras, recorded audio, pencil tests (rough and clean-up), ink and paint (the final version of the film) to bring the characters to life. James Horner composed the film's music score, as well as the film's only song "Roll Back the Rock (to the Dawn of Time)", sung by John Goodman. After four years in the making, the film was completely wrapped in October 1993 (a month before the film's theatrical release on November 24, that year).

The film was originally promoted with John Malkovich listed alongside Cronkite, Goodman, Child, Leno, and Short, but he did not appear in the final version.[4]


To promote the film's theatrical release during the holiday season, a giant helium balloon of Rex the T. Rex was included in the real-life 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Unfortunately, as the parade moved through Columbus Circle, high winds caught the Rex balloon and caused it to lift over the nearby sidewalk. The head of the Rex balloon struck a protruding street light and popped, but the rest of the dinosaur's body remained inflated until the end of the parade.[5]

Pizza Hut carried a series of toys.[6] Dakin[7] and Just Toys made stuffed animals and bendies.[8]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed a total of $3,707,770 on its opening weekend and a total domestic gross of $9,315,576 in the United States, resulting the film to be a box office bomb.[9]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 38% approval rating, based on 16 reviews.[10] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a one star out of four stars and wrote, "It's shallow and kind of dumb, and the animation is routine, and the story isn't much, and the stakes are a lot higher these days in the featurelength animation game".[11] Variety's Daniel M. Kimmel gave the film a positive review and wrote: "In spite of narrative problems... the film's chief appeal is its central conceit -- that giant monsters... can be transformed into creatures who like to play with children".[12] Jane Horwitz of the Washington Post also gave the film a positive review, saying: "Handsomely drawn, and directed by a four-man crew at Spielberg's British-based animation studio, Amblimation, "We're Back!" looks good, though it lacks the gorgeous background detail of a Disney feature, or the heart-tugging romance of "The Little Mermaid" or "Beauty and the Beast." In "We're Back!," science may take the place of sentimentality, but the hot-dog-gulping triceratops fills the cute quotient just fine."[13]

Empire Magazine gave the film a two out of five stars and said, "Disappointing TV-standard film that will entertain children, but annoy their parents".[14] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Parents seeking innocent Kiddie entertainment should know that the dinosaurs are drugged, the children are briefly transformed into monkeys and the Professor is eventually devoured by crows".[15] Charles Soloman of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a mostly negative review, saying, "Spielberg’s Amblimation Studio obviously boasts some talented artists, but they’re not ready to compete with the crew that made “Beauty and Beast” and “Aladdin.” The needlessly convoluted story and even pacing reduce a film that should thunder like a tyrannosaurus to one that whimpers like a kitten".[16]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and LaserDisc on March 15, 1994 by MCA/Universal Home Video (currently known as Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). It was re-released on VHS on September 26, 1995. On August 11, 1998, the film was re-released on VHS as part of the "Universal Family Features" collection. On May 26, 2009, the film was released onto DVD for the first time.[17] On November 17, 2015, the film was released on Blu-ray.[18] During its availability at Walmart stores, it included a sneak peek at The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave.


This soundtrack included the songs "Roll Back the Rock (to the Dawn of Time)" and "Roll Back the Rock (to the Dawn of Time) (Finale Version) by James Horner, Little Richard and Thomas Dolby.[19]

Track listing
  1. Main Title / Primeval Times – 4:14
  2. Flying Forward in Time – 5:48
  3. Welcome to New York – 2:26
  4. First Wish, First Flight – 3:48
  5. A Hint of Trouble / The 'Contract' – 1:49
  6. Roll Back the Rock (to the Dawn of Time): performed by John Goodman – 2:55
  7. Grand Slam Demons – 2:05
  8. Hot Pursuit – 3:18
  9. Central Park – 1:21
  10. Screweyes' Circus / Opening Act – 1:12
  11. Circus – 2:29
  12. Fright Radio / Rex's Sacrifice – 6:19
  13. Grand Demon Parade – 7:39
  14. The Kids Wake Up / A New Day – 2:57
  15. The Transformation – 5:30
  16. Special Visitors to the Museum of Natural History – 2:12
  17. Roll Back the Rock (to the Dawn of Time): performed by Little Richard – 2:56

Video game[edit]

Several video game adaptations of the film, were released in 1993 by Hi-Tech Expressions for the SNES, Sega Genesis , PC and Game Boy.[20] The SNES and PC version was developed by Visual Concepts. The Genesis version was developed by Funcom. The Game Boy version was developed by Beam Software and is an altered version of the game Baby T-Rex.[21][22]


  1. ^ We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 212–213. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  3. ^ Barbara Tepa Lupack; Alan Lupack (2008). Illustrating Camelot. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 209. ISBN 978-1-84384-183-8.
  4. ^ "'WE'RE BACK! A DINOSAUR'S STORY' TO OPEN NATIONWIDE ON NOV. 12". The Free Library. PR Newswire. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  5. ^ Rex The Dinosaur balloon in Macy's Parade of 1993 (video). Retrieved 2015-07-26 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "New 2-piece We're Back A Dinosaur's Story Pizza Hut Advertising Cookie Cutter 1". fanpop.com. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  7. ^ "1993 Dakin We're Back a Dinosaur Story Elsa Plush Figure Purple Pterodactyl Toy". worthpoint.com. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Just Toys Justoys Bend-Ems Bendems We're Back a Dinosaurs Story Rex Figure". ebay.com. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  9. ^ "It's Tough to Stay Afloat in the Film-Cartoon Biz : Movies: Disney's hits prove that it can be done, but other firms lack marketing savvy and a competitive product, animators say. - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1994-01-04. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  10. ^ "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (1993). "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story movie review (1993)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  12. ^ Variety
  13. ^ "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (G)". Washington Post. 1993.
  14. ^ Empire
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (24 November 1993). "Of Children And Dinos, With Feeling (Published 1993)". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Charles Soloman (1993-11-24). "MOVIE REVIEW : Spielberg's 'Dinosaur's Story': 'Jurassic Park' It's Not - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  17. ^ "Were Back! A Dinosaurs Story DVD (Widescreen)". Universal Studios Store. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  18. ^ "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  19. ^ Roll Back The Rock (To The Dawn Of Time) by Little Richard - Topic on YouTube
  20. ^ "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story for Game Boy". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  21. ^ We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (Game)-Giant Bomb
  22. ^ "We're Back! - Game Boy". VGFacts. Retrieved 2013-12-22.

External links[edit]