Well I’ve never done a movie review before but last Friday I spent a very good day at the movies, and so I thought I should spread the word about this particular film, Pixar’s newest motion picture, Finding Dory.
Some Background ———-
Ok, so those of you who’ve read some of my previous posts should know by now I am a big fan of Pixar. I think these guys manage time and again to combine awesome animation with superb storytelling, in a way that, for a fellow creator like me, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Their catalog is filled with veritable masterpieces that are a joy to watch (and rewatch) regardless of your age.
With Finding Dory, they tackled one of their most successful projects ever and decided (in a very gutsy and risky move) to bring about a sequel. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this could have been a monumental mistake. In fact, it had all the makings of one. Finding Nemo (Finding Dory‘s predecessor which we all know about) is one of Pixar’s most perfect, most endearing movies. It made history in the animation in 2003, by winning the Academy Award for Best Animated History and becoming the best-selling DVD title of all times, along with bringing almost 940 millions in box-office to Pixar’s pockets. Nemo became an undisputed cult classic and household name for people of all ages (it also ranked #3 in our very own Top 10 Best Pixar Movies Ever).
With all this in mind, it wouldn’t have been weird in Finding Dory went the way of many other animated franchises in which the first movie was exceedingly good, but the overall quality dropped after that (I’m looking at you Ice Age and Shrek!). In fact, it was expected.
Well, friends… don’t let it be say I don’t apologize when an apology is due. And for once, I’m actually glad I’m lowering my head and saying “Sorry for doubting you, Pixar.” In fact, I am incredibly happy.
For the second time in my entire life, I’ve had the joy to experience an animated sequel that is as good (if different) as its predecessor. This phenomena only happened once before, more than two years ago, when I sat on a movie theater for 1 hour and 42 minutes and cried with How To Train Your Dragon 2.
Finding Dory is a very similar experience.
Ok, so for starters, something to keep in mind:
Finding Dory is NOT the same as Finding Nemo.
With this, I do not mean that it’s in any way inferior, just that it’s a different animal altogether. Finding Nemo captured our hearts with a story about yearning and learning to find the courage in your heart to do anything and go anywhere for those you love. Marlin’s journey and his determination, coupled with Nemo’s realization of just how much he truly loved his father, was heart-wrenching and heavy and wonderful. The happy ending made it great. However, Finding Nemo is not a particularly happy movie. It’s deep and heavy as the ocean itself.
Finding Dory is different. From the very start, the movie is uplifting. I’ll say probably the saddest part is the beginning, when we meet Dory and we realize just what a toll her disability (short-term memory loss) has in her life and that of her parents. It’s sad to see her struggle with it, to see her try to comprehend it, with the innocence and helplessness of a child who doesn’t quite understand herself.
From then on, however, the movie starts to soar. The overall mood is ever rising, the story becoming lighter and lighter with every minute. Dory tackles her challenges head-on and with optimism, without overthinking, and her steadfast approach is successful and wins the heart of the audience with her almost childish wonder and love for life. Watching Finding Dory I was reminded of a couple of months ago, when I was asked to compare Zootopia to 2015’s Inside Out (which I’d declared Pixar’s Best Movie of All Times). At the time, I argued that Zootopia wasn’t inferior to Inside Out, it was just different, both in feeling and in objective.
The same happens with Finding Dory. It doesn’t reach the heights of feeling and depth of Finding Nemo, but then, it doesn’t have to. The movie is about personal triumph. About the certainty that you can do anything you put your mind to, that you can be whoever you want to be, regardless of the obstacles or challenges.
It’s definitely another superb production by Pixar, and one I believe can definitely stand side by side with its predecessor and not fall short.