Today’s Movie: Finding Dory
I think Finding Nemo might be the most important film in the history of animation. That doesn’t mean that it’s the best animated film ever or even my favorite, nor does it mean that it did something revolutionary or game-changing when it was released 13 years ago. Instead, its importance stems from how it subtly changed both the type of storytelling in animation and the public perception of the medium. Finding Nemo marked the start of the switch from the view of animation as “kids’ movies” or “cartoons” to a wider and more positive view of the field in general, to the point where animated films are now increasingly the most popular and successful films each year. Before Finding Nemo, most animation was aimed at kids with the hopes that it might entertain adults also, typically through innuendo or adult humor that would go over the heads of younger viewers. Even Pixar’s first outings, as brilliant as they are, followed this trend to a certain extent, breaking technological barriers more than those of storytelling and genre. But Finding Nemo was different. It told a story that never pandered to either kids or adults, but was instead something that could be appreciated by both equally, and it was filled with characters who were relatable no matter your age. It represented a maturity that was entirely new to animation, an understanding that it’s possible to genuinely create a film for everyone without having to make sacrifices to the story, and the emotional depth which can be achieved when the right all of the right ingredients, including plot, character, direction, and most importantly performance, are combined. It kicked off a new era, and it’s no coincidence that three out of the next four Pixar films were The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Wall-E.