I think it’s safe to say that one of the earliest movies my parents remember me liking was Ghostbusters. I somewhat famously watched on a nearly daily basis for one summer (a “sanitized” version, of course). In another 20 years, I suspect that the movie we will look back on that Meg watched constantly for a long period of time is Finding Nemo. Granted, she didn’t memorize each and every line from it like some of us did for movies in the mid-80s, but she watched it at home and in the car to a point where Brooke and I were getting a bit tired of it.
Fast forward a few years to the announcement of a new movie in the franchise, just at the age when Meg can appreciate it, but releasing 13 years after the original: Finding Dory. And it released on June 17th, right before my birthday, so Meg and I decided awhile back that we’d go “for my birthday” (awwwwww…).
The story centers on Dory and her journey from childhood as a young fish with short-term memory loss, on up through the events of Finding Nemo (there’s a brief flashback to when she met Marlin), and then finally to about a year later. A lot of the movie is told in flashbacks back to Dory’s childhood as she remembers specific events around the time when she lost her family. As each detail pops back into her little fish brain, she gets another clue to lead her back home and, of course, Marlin and Nemo come along for the ride.
It goes without saying that the production values are spectacular, from the animation to the voice work. Quite a few actors are attached to the movie, including some of the originals (Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, though Alexander Gould was replaced by Hayden Rolence because of, well, puberty…), and they perform just like it was 13 years ago in the original film. Newcomers like Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy and Idris Elba also make their marks, though in many cases, more screentime would have been great. They’re memorable new characters, much like the “aquarium crew” in the first film were, and they do a great job filling out the story a bit. Ed O’Neill as the “septapus,” Hank, steals the show in many respects, partially because of the intricate animation of an octopus sliding across the floor and using camouflage, but also because his curmudgeonly demeanor serves as a good foil for Dory’s otherwise sunny disposition.
The story itself isn’t quite as strong as Finding Nemo was, but perhaps it’s just because I haven’t seen it countless times (yet). Multiple reviews for the film have rightly pointed out that Finding Dory is really about living with disability, and on that level, I agree that it succeeds. At the same time, while Pixar pushes that boundary forward for kids to try and learn something out of their entertainment, I think it still goes over the heads of many kids. Meg really didn’t “get” Inside Out when we watched it last year, but over time, I bet she’ll understand it more and more, and likely, Finding Dory will also work on that level eventually. Right now, Finding Nemo is a show (for Meg) about a kid that gets lost, and the parent that does everything to find him. Finding Dory, as Meg said during the movie, wasn’t really about “finding Dory” because she doesn’t get lost the same way Nemo does.
Eventually, Meg will understand that “finding” has a few different meanings in this context. As an adult, I get that. As a 6-year-old, Meg isn’t quite there.
Still, she enjoyed it quite a bit and is seeing it again tonight. Can’t argue with that. 🙂