Don Bluth's The Land Before Time became a surprisingly marketable brand name for a film well short of classic status, inspiring over a half-dozen cut-rate sequels and spin-offs that are best suited as babysitting videos for preschoolers. In this first outing, the only one in which Bluth was involved, the creator of The Secret of N.I.M.H. and An American Tail again proves that the animation techniques he learned at Disney don't need Disney's army of screenwriters to make good entertainment. Because it was released years before Jurassic Park or Disney's CGI film Dinosaur, which borrows plot elements from Land, Bluth's film provides fresh-enough images of this dark and volcanic landscape to seem groundbreaking. By making the characters preciously cute and vocally infantile, Bluth softens this cruelly Darwinian moment in history without having to cheer up his production design, keeping an unambiguous "G" rating in the process. The teasingly short running time -- the movie struggles to crack the hour mark -- should also keep the youngest children from squirming. Although Littlefoot and his buddies aren't particularly memorable, they do register enough to keep the viewers concerned during moments of peril, which are as involving as they need to be. The sophisticated visuals and the huggable young dinos are enough to make The Land Before Time a fond favorite, even if it does scrimp a little in the wit department. No less than George Lucas and Steven Spielberg served as executive producers on the film.