Back when I started my first adult job, a few of us were sitting around after the initial training and talking about stuff, and the topic of favorite movies came up. I said, without hesitation, Toy Story 2. One of the guys was taken aback – why had I chosen an animated movie? And beyond that…a sequel? How can a sequel to an animated movie be any good? I said, “Let me lend you my DVD, and you can watch it and see.” He did, and came back eating humble pie, because it really is that good. The point of this story is that Pixar has been making beautiful, surprisingly emotional movies for two decades now, and so when Finding Dory came out, I knew I had to see it. My girlfriend A suggested that we make a morning movie date out of it, and it was so much fun.
Pixar is known for giving their mid-level animators a chance to take on a bigger task by leading the Shorts, and Piper is adorable and amazing. It’s so realistic looking in the first few shots, and it’s not until we get into the character portion that it becomes sort of cartoonized, but still in a way that feels real. It’s just such a soothing and lovely short that I could watch it for hours.
But onto the real show – we start out with some of Dory’s background as a baby with her parents. Baby Dory is one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen, with eyes that are nearly popping out of her head they are so big. This flashback permeates the rest of the movie and ties in to different parts. It is this memory that leads Dory on her quest to find her parents…and gets her separated from Marlin and Nemo (who are her neighbors and friends and accompanied her on the quest).
There are some terrific new character additions to this movie series, the biggest of which is Hank the Octopus (or rather, Septapus – he’s missing an tentacle). He is so grumpy, and funny and a wonderful contrast to our sunny heroine who is the eternal optimist. His journey in this movie is second only to Dory’s in figuring out who he is and what’s important to him. He’s a delight to watch, though his languid body and ability to camouflage must have been a nightmare for animators to deal with.
There are so many fun callbacks to the original movie. We find out that when Dory said she could speak whale, she wasn’t kidding (despite the fact that it worked in the first movie, and we should have just trusted her). Here, we meet the whale who first spoke to her, and it’s kind of hilarious that both of them speak normally a lot of the time, but also speak in the funny “whale-voice”. Perhaps whale is a better form of communication over long distances and that’s why it’s so drawn out?
On top of everything else, Finding Dory is also just a visual marvel. The beauty of the sea in the first movie has only magnified with improved technology. The bits that are murky feel nasty, the way that they might in real life. The bits that are clear and beautiful feel like a trip to a whole other world. This and Finding Nemo make me want to learn how to snorkel or scuba dive so that I can see these kinds of natural marvels for myself.
All in all, it’s a terrific movie. It’s fantastic for kids AND adults, but doesn’t pander to both sides by making fart jokes for the kids and sneaky sex jokes for the adults the way that lots of animated movies do. Instead, it’s just a wonderful story that’s appealing to everyone, and will make you tear up on at least one or two occasions, and the rest of the time take your breath away with the marvel that it presents.
Details: Finding Dory, written by Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse, directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane. Maybe still in theaters?