The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water is a 2002 direct-to-video animated adventure musical film and the ninth film in The Land Before Time series. It was produced and directed by Charles Grosvenor. This is also the last film to use the soundtrack composed by James Horner. During the year this was released, Universal brought back on DVD, for the first time, two of the previous Land Before Time films; The Great Valley Adventure and The Time of the Great Giving.
When heavy rains create a mysterious "new water", Littlefoot sets off to explore the Great Valley. He quickly becomes friends with Mo the mischievous Ophthalmosaurus who has been isolated from his pod by the weather. When Littlefoot and friends get separated from their parents because of an Earthshake, they help Mo get back home to the Big Water, while avoiding a hungry "Sharptooth Swimmer" (Liopleurodon). On the way, Littlefoot and Mo discuss such interesting and see dangerous things like imaginary friends, the Sharptooth Swimmer, the concept of loneliness, and the true meaning of a brother.
The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water was well received by the critics, and received nominations for several awards. Along with being re-released several times, the movie also spawned a PlayStation video game.
Voice Actors Edit
The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water was the last of the films in the Land Before Time series in which Thomas Dekker provided the voice of the character Littlefoot.
- John Ingle as the Narrator/Mr. Threehorn
- Kenneth Mars as Grandpa Longneck
- Miriam Flynn as Grandma Longneck/Diplodocus Mom
- Thomas Dekker as Littlefoot
- Anndi McAfee as Cera
- Aria Noelle Curzon as Ducky
- Rob Paulsen as Spike/Mo
- Tress MacNeille as Mama Swimmer/Mama Flyer
- Jeff Bennett as Petrie
The Great Valley has been experiencing a heavy "skywater" for several days, and Littlefoot grows impatient, waiting for the bright circle (sun) to shine. When it does, he goes to find his friends, but they are all preoccupied; Cera and her father are moving a log which rolled onto their nest, Ducky, Spike, and their family are relocating their nest, and Petrie has come down with a cold. Feeling bored, Littlefoot decides to explore on his own, and discovers that the "sky water" created a large "new water" in the Great Valley.
Though the adults advise against approaching it, Littlefoot goes back to the water the next day, to investigate a mysterious voice in its direction. When there, he meets the caller: a young, fun-loving, swimmer (Opthalmosaurus) named Mo, who invites him to play. In the meantime, his friends overhear him playing, and run to join. Littlefoot excitedly tells them that he and Mo just became "mud brothers", and they question Mo's whereabouts. When Littlefoot sees that Mo has disappeared, Cera becomes convinced that Mo is imaginary. Petrie assures Littlefoot and the others that imaginary friends are all right, at which point Mo reappears.
After being introduced to the others, Mo informs them he is from the Big Water (ocean), and explains how he ended up in the Great Valley; when the sky water caused a rise in the Big Water, it flowed over high cliffs into the valley, carrying him away with it. Convinced that he is alone, he is startled to find a sharptooth swimmer (Liopleurodon) making his way towards the gang. After Mo manages to stop him from doing the children harm, Littlefoot decides to ask the grownups to help in returning Mo to his home. The grownups refuse, due to the danger of helping a strange creature from outside the Great Valley, and after an earthshake (earthquake) separates them from the rest of the valley, Littlefoot and the others decide to return Mo on their own.
On their way they encounter an obstacle: a large boulder in the water, which Mo must jump over. Later, Ducky falls into a nest of Diplodocus eggs, and after explaining their presence to the mother (referred to by Ducky as "Mrs. Mama"), she lets them spend the night. The next day, when they make off again, they discover that they are nearing the Big Water when the water starts to taste salty. Later, they encounter the sharptooth swimmer (who had escaped from a wall of rocks imprisoning him in a cave, after the earthshake) for the final time, and Mo appears to sacrifice himself to save them.
The next day, they find that Mo is all right, and he informs them that the Sharptooth Swimmer stopped chasing him when he smelled something in the distance. Littlefoot inhales in the same direction, and realizes that the Sharptooth Swimmer returned to the Big Water. When they reach it themselves, Mo reunites with his pod, then pleads with the gang to stay, but Littlefoot insists that he and the others must return to the Great Valley. Mo offers to show him his home before they leave, and Littlefoot is surprised by the beauty of the undersea world, before he slips and falls into it. The Gang heads near the location where Littlefoot was looking, worried for his safety, while Littlefoot takes a wonderful swim while viewing the amazing underwater world. However, he quickly ran out of oxygen during the swim and Mo takes him to surface. When on land again, Littlefoot tells the gang that the water world is amazing. and the others promise they will always be friends with Mo, and then return home.
The music score of this film was composed by Michael Tavera. The music that plays in the background when the gang cool off is the cheese factory scene music from The Treasure of Manhattan Island. This is the second and last time the music is used in the series, after The Big Freeze. It is also the last time James Horner's original themes (including instrumental uses of If We Hold on Together) from the first film are heard in a Land Before Time film, despite Tavera's rearrangements of Horner's old themes still being heard in some shots of Invasion of the Tinysauruses.
The songs are written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom. Big Water is borrowed from The Mysterious Island, in which the songwriters also collaborated. This was the first Land Before Time film to contain more than three songs. This was the fourth time Spike sings; he can be heard humming during Big Water. Later, after Petrie yodels, so does Spike.
- Chanson D'Ennui ("Song of Boredom") - Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky and Petrie (Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee, Aria Noelle Curzon and Jeff Bennett)
- Imaginary Friend - Petrie, Littlefoot, Ducky and Cera (Jeff Bennett, Thomas Dekker, Aria Noelle Curzon and Anndi McAfee)
- Big Water (This reprise omits the verses of the original song but adds an extra line to the chorus) - Ducky, Spike, Littlefoot, Cera and Petrie (Aria Noelle Curzon, Rob Paulsen, Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee and Jeff Bennett)
- No One Has to Be Alone (the end credits version is sung by Donny Osmond; known as "You Never Have to be Alone" in some countries) - Littlefoot, Ducky, Cera, Petrie and Mother (Thomas Dekker, Aria Noelle Curzon, Anndi McAfee, Jeff Bennett and Miriam Flynn)
- It is paired with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
- This is the second Land Before Time film to be released on December 10th. The first is The Land Before Time IV: Journey Through the Mists.
- The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water was released the same year that Universal Studios released The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure and The Land Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving on DVD for the first time.
- Littlefoot uses the term "sky colors" to refer to a rainbow in this film. However, the term rainbow was used in The Stone of Cold Fire to describe the "Rainbow Face" species.
- This movie marks the first appearance of regular Rainbow Faces, unlike the what appear to be extra-terrestrials disguised as Rainbow Faces in The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire.
- The scene where Littlefoot wishes out loud that his mom had given him a brother to play with is noted to be the second time in the series Littlefoot actually refers to his mother since the original, the other time being when he refers to her in the final verse of "Always There", from The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island. Ironically and coincidentally this became a spoiler to the later appearance of Shorty who would later become Littlefoot's adopted brother in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration which is a sequel to The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water.
- This movie marks the first time eggs are computer-animated in a Land Before Time film (The eggs are shown upclose when the gang find Ducky in Mrs. Mama's nest). Hand-drawn elements are mapped onto each of the eggs in the later scene where they hatch. The log Cera and her father are pushing at the beginning of the film is also computer-animated.
- The Internet Movie Database once mistook The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire character Sierra (voiced by Jim Cummings) to be in this film, but he has since been removed from the cast list.
- This is the fourth time Spike sings in the series; he can be heard humming during the song "Big Water".
- This is the first film in which nobody cries.
- This is the only film without a walking Sharptooth.
- This is the second film with a Swimming Sharptooth as an antagonist, The Mysterious Island being the first.
- In the DVD special features for the movie, Petrie is incorrectly referred to as a Pterodactyl, and Ducky is referred to as a Parasaurolophus, which contradicts the Sing-Along Songs video which calls her a Saurolophus.
- When Grandpa Longneck exclaims "Come, everyone. I sense more skywater is about to fall", Petrie's mother has her son's coloration.
- When Littlefoot explores the wildlife and scenery underneath the ocean, two seahorses are shown. Seahorses shouldn't exist in the late Cretaceous Period, rather, they emerged during the Neogene Period.
- Recurring characters:
- One-off characters:
- Mrs. Mama
- Mrs. Mama's children
- Petrie's Imaginary Friend
- Mo's water kin
- Species Debuts:
In June 2000, it was reported that a ninth film in the Land Before Time series was in development by Universal. This was the first Land Before Time film in which the eggs are computer-animated; they can be seen when Littlefoot and his friends find Ducky in a female Diplodocus's nest. When the eggs hatch, hand-drawn elements are mapped onto each egg.
Bruce Fretts of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" and wrote, "Exposing innocents' ears to Donny Osmond (who whimpers the syrupy ballad 'No One Has to Be Alone' over the closing credits) borders on child endangerment". In August 2014, the New York Post ranked each of the 13 Land Before Time films released up to that point, placing Journey to Big Water at number 6 and writing that it "provides a breath of fresh air" by introducing underwater species.