‘Finding Nemo’ was a pretty special movie for my family. It came out the same year my little twin girls were born and was the first movie I remember them watching. I used to put it on every weekend morning that I was home and they would watch it. It’s also the only thing they watched that I think I could stand to see a hundred times (I’m looking at you Dora). So, the prospect of taking my 13 year old girls to see the sequel was quite special and the movie did not disappoint.
Still, I was a bit worried in the first act. I’m not going to tell you that the first act isn’t well done, but it strikes a lot of the same beats that the previous film did. Which left me concerned that the movie would be a slightly altered copy. Well, that quickly changes in the second act and the rest of the movie is hilarious fun with sprinkles of heartfelt emotion. It’s one heck of a ride.
The ride begins with a trip down memory lane for a fish with short term memory loss. We see Dory as a kid and follow her path to assisting Marlin in his search for Nemo. It’s a clever opening that will bring a smile to your face. We then pick up back at the reef and the movie becomes a little too familiar. Luckily, something comes over Dory (Ellen Degeneres) that leads her mind to start putting pieces of a puzzle together.
Her journey takes her, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Nemo to a Marine Institute in California, where she believes her parents still reside. In this place, Dory meets a plethora of new characters that help her out. Each have different motivations, but they all grow to genuinely care about Dory. My favorite is probably the octopus that calls himself Hank (Ed O’neill). The banter between Hank and Dory is often hilarious, but mostly it’s Hank’s antics that are the most fun.
However, the best thing about this film is its big heart and message about how amazing those with mental disorders can be. It’s subtly done, but it’s crystal clear and should give something for parents to talk about with their children. While the movie may not be as good as the original or some of Pixar’s best, it’s still better than 90% of animated motion pictures out there. And the added message only adds to a movie that you should certainly see as soon as possible.