Ellen DeGeneres recently told the press at the Finding Dory conference that the animated film “Isn’t just a cartoon movie.” She explained that the film is multi-layered, emotional and complex, as well as a movie she was proud to partake in. Personally, I was thrilled to see the prequel to Finding Nemo after what seemed like an indefinite wait.
This post is more about the way Finding Dory made me feel vs. a traditional “review.” I honestly feel that a ticket to a Pixar movie should include a box of tissues. I’m a crier, it’s true, but come on!! Remember when Woody says goodbye to Andy in Toy Story 3 before he goes off to college? I balled. Or the first few minutes of Up! Gawd!! I was a mess! My daughter asked me if I was “okay” when Baymax blew away in that portal in Big Hero 6. Inside Out’s Bing Bong? Ok, I just can’t go there right now. Pixar has a knack for real, honest storytelling. It’s definitely more than a cartoon when we’re moved to tears as well as laughter. We especially know it’s more than a cartoon when we walk out talking about the film for years to come. Some of us watch these films with our own kids again and again.
In Finding Dory, you root for the underdog. You want that little fish to hold on to her memory just long enough to remember her parents. This is a major component to Dory’s character, and reveals a hidden subplot. We see a preschool-aged Dory who struggles with her short term “remembry” loss. Adult Dory constantly apologizes for her short-term memory loss. In essence, she apologizes for who she is. I can relate to not feeling that I’m good enough and apologizing for myself. I’ve done that since I was a kid. I’m still learning to love myself and Dory takes her weaknesses and turns them into mere strengths. This is a wonderful discussion piece for kids. “What would Dory do?” is a line from the film. Ask your kids this, “What would you do?” How we solve a problem is unique to ourselves. Everyone is different.
In addition, we get to see Dory’s parents! Through flashbacks we watch her parents worry about her, guide her, and ultimately never give up on her. Dory’s mom tells her, “We will never forget you, Dory. And you will never forget us.” (That made me choke up!) The ultimate job of a parent from day one is to keep them alive. Teach them how to survive and give them the tools to succeed. Like Dory’s parents, parents do everything in their power to protect their children from the big, ugly world (especially when others might perceive your child as being different). But, sometimes we have to let them go and have them figure things out on their own.
Even with Dory’s short term memory loss, she keeps swimming. She learns that she can be the hero and that forgetting isn’t the only thing she knows how to do. Finding Dory oozes with powerful messages and like all Pixar films, family and friendship is the basis of this film. Dory searches for her family with her surrogate family swimming alongside her. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to embrace the people who love us for who we are while they make a positive difference in our lives.
Finding Dory feels familiar but it definitely stands on its own two fins! It’s a wonderful journey under the sea filled with lovable new characters (even the cranky Octopus Hank), and even a car chase scene (sorta)! Please stay until the end for a fun Easter egg.
By the way, I forgive Pixar for making us wait this long. It was worth it.
FINDING DORY IS IN THEATERS JUNE 17th! Arrive early to watch the awesome short Piper.