Movie review: Finding Dory

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend an advance screening of the latest Pixar movie, “Finding Dory.” (Thank you to Disney for donating the item to a Children’s National fundraising event!)

Jim and I are both fans of “Finding Nemo” and actually thought the emotional resonance of that movie was one of its many strengths. (But our son was born with a club foot, so we could definitely relate to Nemo’s bad fin.)

Thirteen years later, “Finding Dory” is Dory’s quest to find her parents. There are a few cameo appearances by Crush and the other sea turtles and a nice introduction/summary of “Finding Nemo” for those who haven’t seen it, but this is definitely Dory’s movie. Marvin and Nemo play strong supporting roles. But Hank, a mimic septupus, steals the movie. Voiced by Ed O’Neill (from “Modern Family” and “Married with Children”), he once again plays the curmudgeonly character with the heart of gold. Even more impressive is the animation that was required to give life to Hank. As the Disney representative explained to us, octopuses have no joints, which makes animation extremely difficult because there’s no joint to hang the motion off of. (They slither more than they move.) It took two years before the animators figured out a way to animate that movement. And each scene where you see Hank with all seven legs took months to animate. As a mimic septupus, Hank has to blend into his surroundings but still be obviously him—a tricky feat at the best of times and an added complexity to the animation.

All of this is fascinating, of course, but has nothing to do with Pixar’s real strength, which is storytelling. I think anyone who knows a parent of or a child with special needs will relate to this movie, as Dory’s parents worry about her future, as Dory copes with her limitations and moves forward despite them, and as Dory’s friends appreciate her very real strengths. The movie ends happily, of course (it is a Pixar movie, after all!) but not without plenty of obstacles, tears, and emotionally fraught moments. It is a worthy member of the Pixar family.

This movie received an enthusiastic thumbs up from all of us, and we are definitely going to go see it again!

P.S. Two notes: the short before the movie, “Piper,” is a definite must-see, so don’t be late when you go see the movie. And, second, the actor who originally voiced Nemo has a cameo role in this movie. (He obviously couldn’t voice Nemo again because in the 13 years between movies, his voice changed!)