Anyone who knows me knows I am a diehard Pixar fan. I like all of their movies- yes all of their movies. Some more than others but I don’t think they’ve made a terrible film yet. Finding Nemo is probably my 6th or 7th favorite Pixar but it is special and incredibly well done. After 13 years Pixar just released the sequel to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, and it was also a total delight. For today’s Family Movie Night I thought I would talk about the strengths of both films and why you should watch them both with your family.
Finding Nemo was released in 2003 by Pixar and it represented a different kind of story than had been told in either of the Toy Story movies or Monsters Inc. Those movies were about friendships and had simpler world building to design and create. With Finding Nemo they took on the majesty, flow and vibrancy of the ocean. In A Bug’s Life and some of their shorts they had a little bit of water, mostly rain but an ocean environment was a huge step up for anything they had tried in the past.
I actually think Finding Nemo is underrated in its artistry. Most people focus on the story which is great but the ocean fills up the screen. Every inch is covered by coral and kelp moving with the water. You get the feel that you are under water without it looking cheesy.
But all the environment in the world doesn’t negate a bad story. Luckily Andrew Stanton and company put together an academy award nominated screenplay for Finding Nemo. If you don’t know Nemo is the only child of a neurotic, grief stricken father clown fish named Marlin. Nemo is taken to an aquarium in a dentist office and Marlin is on the hunt to find his son. Along the way he meets a fish named Dory who has short term memory loss but for some reason she can remember details that involve Nemo. The two work together with AA sharks, a cool talking turtle named Crush and a bird named Nigel to find Nemo and unite the family.
As with all Pixar films, Finding Nemo is hilarious (I will never forget the first time I saw the AA sharks. I laughed my head off at that) but it is also heartfelt. A lot of this can be taken back to the fantastic voice cast with Albert Brooks as Marlin, Ellen Degeneres as Dory and an array of other talent. It all works together to make a satisfying, wonderful family film.
So how could Finding Dory live up to its predecessor after 13 years? It’s certainly a tall order but I’m here to tell you that Pixar was up to the challenge and have succeeded in making a wonderful animated film. It may not have quite the emotional punch of Finding Nemo but it is pretty close. I really loved it.
Finding Dory is a year after the events of Finding Nemo and Dory is starting to see flashbacks to her parents who she lost as a baby fish. Eventually in one of these flashbacks s Dory learns where her parents are from, so she gets Marlin and Nemo to join her to find her parents.
The first thing I loved about Finding Dory was the unpredictability and variety. Instead of having Dory searching and then finding a companion for the duration of the film, she was continually changing partners which made things unpredictable and surprising.
She was also in a variety of environments from a dock to a touching pond in a marine life habitat. We see the coral reef from the original film but many other colors and styles of seascape. This helped create a sense of newness that we might have missed in a sequel.
Plus, Finding Dory is probably funnier than its predecessor. I laughed a lot and like I said it wasn’t just one sidekick with humor but a variety, which was fun. My particular favorites were an octopus named Hank and 2 wisecrack sea lions. They were so funny!
There also was a great message in Finding Dory. I think families with special needs children will really love this movie because we see how Dory’s special needs allow her to see the world in a unique way. At one point Marlin asks the question ‘what would Dory do?’ and it is through her random perspective that they are able to find a solution. I really liked that message. I didn’t cry in Finding Dory but I thought it was a lovely lesson for kids and adults alike.
Someone asked me whether I liked Finding Dory better than The Good Dinosaur. I’m one of the weird souls that loved The Good Dinosaur. To me it was something different from Pixar. They created a beautiful old fashioned story like Bambi or Dumbo. I loved that but most people disagreed. Nevertheless, for Finding Dory, Pixar delivers a movie with less risk than Good Dinosaur that is right in their wheel house. It uses the Pixar formula very well and so if you like the formula you will like Finding Dory.
I recommend watching Finding Nemo and Finding Dory as a family. Maybe have a 2 day movie marathon with your family and talk about the differences of both films. I think that could be a great learning experience for kids. There aren’t any scary moments in Finding Dory so it may actually be even more appropriate for very young kids than Finding Nemo.
Both are total delights so go enjoy them with your family. I’d love to know what you think of Finding Nemo or Dory and what is your favorite Pixar film? Let me know in the comments section.