Finding Dory Restores My Faith in Pixar
I’ve decided to try something new. Normally, I only write movie reviews if I’m able to see the film on it’s opening weekend, thinking what’s the point after that? However, sometimes, life can get in the way of me getting to the theater on its opening weekend or it’s a film I’m not jumping to see, but it still deserves a review. So here is my review for Finding Dory, which I saw just the other day.
Finding Dory is the Pixar sequel we definitely didn’t need, but I’m pretty happy we got. I’m not going to lie. I was mildly worried about this film for two reasons. 1) What I just stated. Finding Nemo was great as just a standalone film and didn’t need a sequel whatsoever. Adding on, it could be argued as franchise grabbing. (Hi, Cars and Cars 2 and Cars 3.) And 2) The Good Dinosaur, which I was incredibly excited for, ended up largely disappointing me in many ways, as you can read about here. But in the end, Finding Dory surpassed my expectations and made for a very enjoyable film.
The general premise behind the story is Dory all of a sudden remembers she has a family of her own and a few memories from her past have now returned to her memory. Because of this, she decides she needs to go find her parents, which puts her, Marlin, and Nemo onto a wild adventure back across the ocean. After some narrow escapes, they end up at a marine life aquarium and rehabilitation center where Dory remembers living with her parents. It is here we meet most of the new characters and where Dory must find her parents.
I have two main gripes about the film. A main plot point in Finding Nemo was Dory was able to remember things when she was with Marlin. Somehow, he had a positive effect on what has now been classified in the sequel as a handicap/disability of Dory. However, in the sequel, this handicap is pushed so hard onto the audience. Yes, we see many flashback scenes of her as a child with her parents and when she’s growing up on her own, all suffering from the short-term memory loss. But then in the present day scenes, you would think we were watching the Dory we met in the first film before she even knew Marlin. The film beats us over the head with her disability and it just gets old. It comes across as plot writing for the sake of writing.
The other item I had a problem with was the many conflicts the characters kept experiencing throughout the film. Yea, that sounds weird written out. But in the third act of the film, it seemed as though every time we were about to have some resolution, another conflict arose, thus pushing our characters further along. Now, don’t get me wrong. That is precisely how it should be. Finding Nemo is full of this. But for its sequel, it felt so forced and repetitive. Almost as if it was conflict for the sake of conflict OR they knew the characters needed to get from point A to point B, but didn’t know how to get them there in a smooth, cohesive way, so ‘here’s another conflict’ to push them there. It just got to the point of making you want to yell at the screen, “Oh, come on!” But I digress.
Those two things aside, the film is actually quite entertaining. Perhaps it’s because I went in with lower expectations than normal, or because I was warned it may not be up to my Pixar standard that I come to expect from their films, but I found the film to be a laughable, fun experience.
As I expected, the new character Hank, the sect-opus voiced by the always funny Ed O’Neill, steals almost every scene he’s in. Destiny, voiced by Kaitlin Olsen is a cute new character who fits in well with the story and is paired perfectly with Ty Burrell’s Bailey. But I think two characters who will become many viewers favorites are two sea lions named Fluke and Rudder, the former voiced by Idris Elba. The new movie doesn’t contain nearly as many new characters as the first one introduced us to, but that’s just fine. The ensemble works very well together and brings quite a few memorable, comedic moments to the film!
When the film’s plot and location were first announced, I was worried Pixar would try to make the film a bit political about fish in captivity, etc. If you weren’t aware, Dory originally was supposed to travel to a marine park, such as SeaWorld, but once Blackfish came out, Pixar wisely changed the park idea to its an aquarium. They still could have slid in a political stance, but thankfully they didn’t because it really could have taken away from the film.
Finding Dory is all about Dory and her relationship with her parents. It’s specifically designed to tug at the heart strings and it does to an extent. Pixar has always led the way in this area with their stories. While at times the film does tend to suffer a bit from The Good Dinosaur syndrome (overly forced emotional scenes), it is only slightly and doesn’t ruin the film. The story doesn’t drag and does a good job at referencing the first film without being too overbearing. Because of this, it doesn’t make you feel left out and clueless if you haven’t seen the first film. You can still follow everything in this film just fine without having seeing the first. You may just not understand a few jokes or references.
Finding Dory is a solid film from Pixar. In a number of the scenes, the animation is phenomenal, just as usual from Pixar. The short at the beginning, Piper, is great as always, and in a surprise twist, there is a post credits scene, which is anything but fantastic. Its few flaws are forgivable (even the fact that there are incorrect facts about certain marine life animals in the film), but it’s not a grand slam like some of their pictures. However, it fits nicely into their collection and has restored my faith with Pixar and
I look forward to their next film. Cars 3?!?! Wait, crap, never mind. Bring on Coco!