Pixar makes great films. Even something as subpar (for them) as Cars II is still better than a lot of movies out there. Pixar is 1 for 2 in the sequel department. For as great as Toy Story 2 and 3 are, there is, well, Cars II. So when Finding Dory was announced, I was a little bummed. Why? Finding Nemo was so good what more could be told. And did we really need Dory’s backstory? Wasn’t that first film a nice, little one-off movie, like Ratatouille or Wall E?
Boy was I wrong. Finding Dory is a wonderfully charming movie that expands her backstory, provides a ton of genuine laughs, and, of course, has some teaching moments, namely family. Granted we got that in Nemo, but, hey, so what, right? It’s also the thing that kicks off the plot.
If you remember in Nemo, when, towards the end, Dory has a memory and all those images flash by at rocket speed until she remembers Sydney, there’s a similar thing here, but it’s for her own past. Thus, the story starts when she was to find her parents. Throughout the film, we get to see baby Dory and her parents. And, boy, is it as cute as can be. This is Disney full-on cuteness. As funny as Dory’s short-term memory loss can be (a fav of mine is in Nemo when she keeps calling him just about any other name), it is basically a handicap. Thus, you see her parents teaching her to cope with her handicap. I never quite figured that out before this new movie. It’s a nice example of modern parenting.
Naturally, Marlin and Nemo go along for the adventure. It’s great to see the dad and son, reunited, and working together. There are some fun mentions of the first film along the way. Where in the first film, Marlin is the scaredy cat who overcomes his fear of the ocean to rescue his son, in this new film, we get to see Marlin take some chances of his own volition but still be the worrywart. It’s a nice bit of character development that works.
The humor is over the top funny. Slapstick in many places. I am not ashamed to say that I was literally laughing loudly in many parts of the film. Everyone in the theater loved it. The new co-stars are hilarious. I won’t spoil what they are, but it’s just further proof that the folks at Pixar can create instantly memorable characters. Andrew Stanton returned to direct and, once again, proves that anything he’s involved in is good. Yes, even John Carter! (Come back tomorrow for my reasons.)
The animated short, Piper, is simple stunning! Naturally, the story is yet another example that great stories and great storytellers do not need a word of dialogue to move you. Shhh! Don’t tell the writers. But the animation is incredible. My entire family all marveled at the all-but-real-life quality of the short. Fantastic. And, of course, funny and poignant.
Definitely put Finding Dory on your to-watch list. And, no, you don’t need to rent a child to see it. While Finding Dory skews more to a traditional kids film (say, Frozen or Toy Story 2) rather than an adult film that just happens to be animated (Inside Out, Up, Wall-E), there is still content for everyone. Easily one of the funniest films of the year.
Oh, and stay through the credits…