Original Release: June 17, 2016
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Screenplay By: Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy
This week we’re jumping a little forward in time to talk about the newest masterpiece to come out of Disney Pixar with the release of Finding Dory. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want spoilers, I’d avoid waiting to read this one. That being said, I am so excited to talk to you guys about this film. I literally can’t say enough good things about this one. From the moment I saw this first trailer for Finding Dory, I was concerned. Nothing about it popped to me. I didn’t really see a reason to return to this world. After all, we’d already seen the whole ocean. Despite my worries, I let my love for Pixar guide me to the theater, and am I ever so glad I did. Finding Dory is hilarious, heartwarming and beautiful. It also comes packed with a fantastic message for kids and adults alike. Prepare your stations. I’m about to gush.
Finding Dory tells the adorable story of Dory, a fish separated from her family at a very young age, trying to find her way home. Early on, Dory is asked to explain her short term memory loss. She says that she can remember things that make sense. For example, she knows she has a family because, well, everyone comes from somewhere. This is important to establish because as the film continues it helps us to understand why Dory remembers things when she does and how she remembers them. It also helps us to really understand the way she thinks which becomes hugely important later in the film.
Dory is clearly the protagonist here, but it’s good to see Marlin and Nemo back in for the ride. Something I really appreciate is that Marlin doesn’t attempt to leave Nemo home once the adventure begins. I like the idea that while he is still a bit neurotic, he’s grown enough to know that his son can handle a big adventure. That growth is great because otherwise, we’d be retreading ground and that would get old fast. And while Dory takes the spotlight, the laughs and action sequences are split very fairly here, so none of the three ever seem like they are out of the picture for too long.
From Destiny the near sighted whale to Hank the Octopus, every character feels very different and fun. Something to note is that many of the main characters are disabled in some way and their conquering of these disabilities becomes a big part of the film. Destiny can’t see. Hank only has seven tentacles and is terrified of children. Bailey the beluga is self conscious about the fact that his sonar vision doesn’t work.
And we can’t forget Nemo who has a weak fin and Dory with her weak memory. Everyone’s a little broken but these things are what make these characters so special in the end. I have to believe that this is pretty empowering for kids, especially those with disabilities. It really shows that anyone, no matter what, can accomplish something if they set their mind to it.
I also want to point out that I found this to be one of the funniest Pixar films as of late. Pixar is always funny, but often times their films are so heartbreaking that it’s hard to laugh in between the tears. I’m looking at you, Up. This film, while it certainly has its share of the warm fuzzies, also has some of the best gags and laughs of any in the Pixar canon. One joke in particular featuring Sigourney Weaver had me almost falling out of my chair. And oh man, the cuteness factor in this film is at 11. From the otters to baby Dory, there is always something to “Awe” at.
I really appreciate that Finding Dory doesn’t overdo it on returning characters or homages to the first film. Sure, there are some, but not every character from the first is here, and I’m happy to report that the new characters are flat out fantastic. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that some of these characters are more memorable. I love Hank the Octopus. He’s a great foil to Dory and proves that her zaniness is enough to warm any heart. Becky the bird is hysterical and our new whale friends are delightful. It’s great to see that, in the end, this pack of rag tag heroes is able to work together to accomplish something great.
I could go on. From the stunning visuals to the beautiful story-telling and the laughs which refuse to quit, Finding Dory is easily near the top of my Pixar list. It surprised me in more ways than one and I like to think that my low expectations helped to elevate this film even further. Returning to the sea may not have been the first sequel we would have asked for, but it has certainly turned out to be a worthy addition to Pixar’s legacy. If you’ve seen it, you already know it was great, and if you haven’t, I suggest that you should as, well, I basically just spoiled the movie for you. If nothing else, do it for the otter cuddle party. That alone is worth the price of admission.