Back with their A-game. So Nemo has been found and successfully reunited with his father, so time for a happily ever after, right? Well, everybody’s favorite amnesia-stricken fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), has a long forgotten memory kick in, and the gang is off on an adventure to find her long lost parents. Pixar will occasionally have a one movie lull, and while I will firmly defend The Good Dinosaur as a quality film, it does not even fall in their best half of their library. They always come back strong every single time, and remind the public why they are the crown jewel of the animation market. With Finding Dory, they have done just that, and they have made something really special for a sequel that I really didn’t expect all that much from.
I mean, we all saw how Cars 2 turned out.
Now I like the original Finding Nemo just fine, and I think it is a perfectly charming family film. I will just come out and say it: I like Finding Dory even better on the whole, and this is not some hasty conclusion I am jumping to, I have had about three weeks to dwell on this. It feels like there has been actual character progression here, and all of the characters have learned lessons from the events of the first movie. I do award points for this, because it is all too common for everybody to revert back to square one in the face of a sequel (Kung Fu Panda 3, I’m looking at you). Before I watched this, I quite honestly never believed that there was enough here to make a movie about this small, comedic relief side character, but if anybody could take a concept and run with it, it’s Pixar. They finally stop making light of this poor fish’s disability, and there is an actual honest struggle in the story here. Everything about this feels fresh, and all of the side characters do nothing but invigorate the story. From injured whales to snarky octopuses, you like spending time with every character featured here.
But this is the best bit of the movie, if we are being real here.
- This is a movie that just melted any previously existing cynicism away. I fell in love with it fairly early on, and it only strengthened as more of the story revealed itself. It moves fast at every turn, and it feels like a true adventure away from home, which is something that I really appreciated. I do feel like the humor in Finding Nemo is more geared towards kids, given that it is a child is the main character, but this feels like it was made with everybody in mind. I was compelled the entire time, and there are multiple points where Finding Dory made me tear up. It’s my early front runner for movie of the year, and it actually has a pretty good chance of holding down the top spot for months to come.
Finding Dory (2016) *****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2016? See for yourself here.