Can I Take My 5 Year Old to Finding Dory? A Parent’s Guide

DoryFinding Dory is the much anticipated sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo.  This time around instead of a parent searching for their child, we have an (adult) child – Dory, the sidekick Blue Tang from Finding Nemo – searching for her parents.Dory Title

There isn’t much that’s objectionable in this film. There are no bad words, and no one is especially mean.  There are some daring escapes, and moments of peril, but they are resolved quickly and without too much scariness.  One scene that may be hard for viewers is a first-person shot of Dory as she is trying to make her way somewhere and gets lost when she forgets the directions. It was gut-wrenching, though it’s resolved quickly and rather triumphantly.

Like most Pixar films, you can expect some very emotional moments. Through a series of flashbacks, we see that Dory has dealt with her memory loss from a young age. We see the fear her parents experience as they wonder how their child will navigate in the world without them. As the parent of a special needs child, there were some moments that hit so close to home, it felt like the wind was knocked out of me. The filmmakers handled this sensitive subject with tact and care. While Dory’s disability is rightly a huge part of her story, it’s not the only part. She is surrounded by people who love her and care for her because of her optimism and ingenuity.  It’s a refreshing take on people/fish with  cognitive differences.
Kids of all ages will enjoy Finding Dory, which opens June 17th.

 

For a behind the scenes look at the making of Finding Dory, check out the Parenting Geekly interview with Supervising Animator Michael Stocker here.

Behind the Scenes of Finding Dory with Supervising Animator Michael Stocker

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Michael Stocker, Supervising Animator for the upcoming Disney Pixar film finding Dory, loves a challenge.  Listening to him talk about the speed bumps on the road to creating Finding Dory was as interesting as hearing him gush about the successes.  

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I got to spend a little bit of time with Stocker yesterday afternoon as he began his press tour for Finding Dory, which will hit wide release on June 17th.  His enthusiasm for the art of animation and storytelling in general, and for this project in particular, made this one of the most fun interviews I’ve done in a long time. He really opened up about some of the fun, behind the scenes making of Finding Dory, and Disney and Pixar in general.

Stocker attended Spokane Falls Community College, where he obtained degree in Commercial Art and Graphic Design. He took one film course while there, but says he was hooked and knew he wanted to work in film. While working at Boeing as an illustrator, Stocker saw a television commercial for the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit and knew at that moment that animation was where he wanted to be. He enrolled at CalArts (a school founded by Walt Disney), and secured an internship at Disney Animation as an “Inbetweener” on The Lion King.  The inbetweener, he explained to us, does all of the animation in between key frames that are drawn by the animator, and makes clean, sharp lines. “I would help the animator sort of put those drawings in and then I would put in this nice, clean line”.   He transitioned over to digital when he worked on The Incredibles at Pixar, which he said is one of his favorites because he had the opportunity to work with director Brad Bird for the first time.

When asked if he preferred hand-drawn animation or digital he replied “A good animated movie – 3D or Hand Drawn is a beautiful thing”  The story is the guiding factor, he says, and a good story can be achieved with both mediums.  He cites the beginning of Up, where we see Carl and Ellie’s story unfold, as a pivotal moment in animation “That is an amazing bit of cinema because it’s no words, it’s just music, it’s just images, it’s just animation. Up to that point I don’t know if people really thought we could tell a story about a subject matter like this, and then that happened. It was just beautiful.”

His newest project, Finding Dory is the much-anticipated sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo. The long wait between films created interesting technical dilemmas. The technology has changed so much in the past decade, that none of the assets from the previous movie could be used. The animators had to create the characters from scratch, a daunting task given how familiar people are with them. The animators would frequently get very close to finishing a character model, but realize through tests that something was just “off” and have to start again. On top of that, animating fish and other aquatic life was hard in and of itself. According to Stocker, every animator brought onto the project had to spend hours observing a real Blue Tang and Clownfish. They then had to create a small animated piece to show they grasped how the fish moved. Finally, they had to start completely from scratch and animate a line or two from the movie using the movements they observed.

FINDING DORY - HANK (voice of Ed O’Neill) is an octopus. Actually, he’s a “septopus”: he lost a tentacle—along with his sense of humor—somewhere along the way. But Hank is just as competent as his eight-armed peers. An accomplished escape artist with camouflaging capabilities to boot, Hank is the first to greet Dory when she finds herself in the Marine Life Institute. But make no mistake: he’s not looking for a friend. Hank is after one thing—a ticket on a transport truck to a cozy Cleveland facility where he’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful life of solitude. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

FINDING DORY – HANK (voice of Ed O’Neill) is an octopus. Actually, he’s a “septopus”: he lost a tentacle—along with his sense of humor—somewhere along the way. But Hank is just as competent as his eight-armed peers. An accomplished escape artist with camouflaging capabilities to boot, Hank is the first to greet Dory when she finds herself in the Marine Life Institute. But make no mistake: he’s not looking for a friend. Hank is after one thing—a ticket on a transport truck to a cozy Cleveland facility where he’ll be able to enjoy a peaceful life of solitude. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

One of the biggest challenges the Finding Dory animation team faced was creating a new character, an octopus named Hank (voiced by Ed O’Neil). Starting right from the design stage, Hank was difficult. Real octopuses have their mouths underneath them, not a set up that would work well in an animated film. Stocker also found himself using a hybrid 3D/hand drawn combination since creating Hank’s tentacles in 3D for every test shot was too time consuming.  The effect, makes Hank’s tentacles mesmerizing to watch, was born from frustration.  “I”m proud of Hank. I know how hard it was for the animators to animate that character and then make it feel organic and believable. When he’s on screen you can’t help watching him.”

Stocker sums up his job like this: “What we try to do is find those real moments. If you can capture them, regardless of fish, toys, cars, that’s kind of where you’ve invested yourself in these characters so much and then you hit a nerve. And there it is, like boom!”

 

Finding Dory opens in theaters everywhere on June 17th.

Galaxy S7 Active Debut Party at AT&T’s Store of the Future

I hate going into my current mobile carrier’s store. The lines are long, and the counters are designed for quick purchases – not 30 minute change-of-service issues. Forget about even finding the accessories I need in store where the layout makes no sense. While I was traveling last week I had to stand in a 15 minute long line just to get help to find a portable battery. Throw kids in the mix and…ugh, forget it.

These are all reasons that AT&T’s Store of the Future in Bellevue, WA is a breath of fresh air. Even from the outside, the store is welcoming with a little porch and friendly orange awnings that make it a respite among the other storefronts in the very commercial Bellevue retail core.

Once you step inside, the first thing you notice is what’s missing, and that’s a good thing! There are no cash-wraps or registers, even the computers that are required for more complicated services like making a change to your plan, are tucked away in semi-private booths (with tables and seating!) towards the back. The store is large, with plenty of open space to move between tables.  They even offer beverages and popcorn!

Just popping in to grab an accessory?  The Store of the Future makes this super easy by presenting like items in “pavilions” based on their use. All of the external/Bluetooth speakers are together, and you can try them all.  All of the wearables are together, all of the in-car items are together.  Even the higher ticket items like home-security systems are presented together in a little home vignette that shows how your AT&T security, entertainment and home automation systems can all compliment each other. If you need more information about any of the items, there are screens stationed around the store to help you out without having to wait on someone. When you’re ready to check out, any of the friendly sales associates can help you out  right where you’re standing!

Guitar on a table surrounded by Bluetooth speakers.

The Music Pavilion at AT&T’s Store of the Future/

I was invited to the store this time around for a party to announce the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active, an AT&T exclusive, and a phone you need in your life. Local journalists and influencers got a sneak-peek of the phone a few days before its public launch. The party was attended by some high-ups at AT&T, and some of the Samsung product team, their pride in this phone was palpable. I left pretty convinced that this is going to be the perfect phone for me.

Three people chatting.

Greg Kurtz, Director of Product Marketing Management for AT&T Mobility tells Rick and I what he loves about the S7 Active. Battery life for the win!

I got a little bit of hands-on time with the phone, and I was really impressed. I was a pretty hardcore Samsung Galaxy fan, but they lost me with the S6 by taking away too many features that I loved. The good news is that Samsung listens to their customers and brought back the most missed features. So not only does the S7 bring back the expandable memory and high-level water resistance of the S5, the AT&T exclusive Active adds a majorly ruggedized body casing and a long-life 4,000 mAh battery (the S7 regular only sports at 3,000 mAh battery).  AT&T will be providing me with an S7 Active, so look for a more detailed review of what I expect to be my new favorite phone soon.

People being shown a phone

An AT&T Retail Consultant shows off the features of the new AT&T exclusive Galaxy S7 Active.

In the meantime, swing by an AT&T Store of the Future, your local AT&T retail location, or the AT&T website to grab an AT&T exclusive Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.