Disney has already had some big successes in 2016, in fact, they pretty much dominate the Top Five movies in terms of revenues. And Pixar’s “Finding Dory” is right in among that mix, but then again, this was an almost guaranteed source of cash from the moment it was announced. But how does the finished product look?
Set about a year after the events of “Finding Nemo”, Dory(Ellen DeGenneres) gets a flash memory of who her parents were. And being a fish suffering from Short Term Memory Loss, that’s kind of a big deal for her. So with Marlin (Albert Brooks), and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence), they set out to track down Dory’s parents across the Ocean.
So someone part of a rag-tag group out searching for something and to discover themselves… yeah, this is the recycled idea we have seen from Pixar time and time again. They meet new pals, get caught in a strange place, face dangers, seem to fail until the point where they gain courage, formulate a crazy plan, and succeed. If that is a trope that turns you off of this studio’s releases, then I really can’t say a lot to turn you around on this one.
But, I was ready to go along for the ride regardless, and despite the familiarity of the plot, I found aspects to enjoy it for. The visuals are pretty spectacular – they always are for Pixar, but this seemed like a strong outing for them. Water just seems to make everything look that much brighter and cover a wider band of colours, so it was a joy to just sit back, and gaze upon the details and splendour of it all. The animation effects are excellent, with only one or two moments where the darkness was a tad blotchy.
I also had appreciation for some of the new characters. The stand-out example is the Octopus Hank (Ed O’ Neill), who reluctantly helps Dory when she is accidentally brought to a Marine Recovery Centre. He has a nice enough spread to his personality and dialogue to make him unique, and seriously, the animation for him was nuts. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but it looked brilliant. His conversations with Dory are the most interesting points of the script as well.
Which sadly, can’t be said too much for the rest of the characters, especially the returning members. Marvin seems oddly snappish towards Dory which kind of goes against the events which panned out in the first film. There’s no real explanation given to back this, so he comes off as kind of an asshole. (he improves later of course) Nemo has grown up and seems to take over things where his Dad is not keen to move on, but hes not all that interesting. The other returning characters are given very little to do and only appear in small sequences. It was a disappointment when they had been built up so well from before, to not utilise that more.
It doesn’t help either that the second act has a few recurring traits from the first movie. The rescue, meeting strange characters, the humans being blissfully unaware, and so on. The lack of a truly refreshing setting means it doesn’t hold your attention for long periods of time. You’re just waiting for things that are new to keep your interest going, at least from a thematic point of view. I will give credit to the last escape scene being as dumb and outrageous as where they took it – it kind of needed that by that stage.
One last thing that comes to mind and should really be praised, is how they convey characters with disabilities. You have Dory and Nemo of course, but you also have a whale who is near-sighted, and a dolphin who hs temporarily lost his echo location. There are very few movies where protagonists and supporting characters are given disabilities, which ultimately don’t slow down their progress, and instead tie into them being the heroes. I really applaud that, since kids who share similar disabilities will find a lot of confidence from watching these characters on the big screen, or DVD. There was one point where Dory is panicking from her loss of memory, which related with me a lot, as someone who suffers from seizures sometimes. It is a big deal, and I am happy they went that extra distance with it.
With “Finding Dory”, I did manage to have a fun time with it between the characters and aesthetic design, as well as those little touches that help punch things up. But I still have to accept the fact that this was probably as good as we could expect from a sequel that sadly… didn’t need to be made. Dory’s story will connect with people for certain, but the supporting stories and ideas around it make me certain that it could have been a 20-minute short. Not a full-length feature. But Pixar wanted that green dough, and this was an easy way to pull in the audiences.
It is a good, relatively enjoyable film that demands little and offers enough to keep your interest. But it is not the Heavyweight sequel you might have been hoping for. And with the ferocious competition in the Animated sector this year, the flat elements stick out all the more against the background. Your kids will love it, and you’ll enjoy it too, but it is no classic.
Thanks for reading!