So I watched Finding Dory…
When I heard news that this sequel was coming, I wasn’t too excited or bothered. Sequels are the rule instead of the exception nowadays and why would a studio turn down a guaranteed payday? I enjoyed Finding Nemo and agree that it’s one of Pixar’s best; but I never had the deep emotional bond with it that the rest of the world seems to have. So when this movie came out I walked (I didn’t run) to the theatre and I delayed writing this review because there were other movies I was keen to talk about. But Finding Dory can be denied no longer…
Okay, basic plot: A year after travelling across the ocean to save Nemo, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has now found a new home with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). One day Dory begins having flashbacks of her childhood and remembers her parents and how she became separated from them. Dory – along with Marlin and Nemo – must once again travel across the ocean in search of family.
I think my blasé attitude towards this movie ended up serving me well. I avoided watching the trailers and various TV spots that made up its marketing campaign so everything about the movie (minus what I had seen in the first trailer) felt new and fresh. The movie started off on a shaky foot with the first ten to fifteen minutes feeling like a carbon copy of the original – introductory flashback, Marlin being overly conservative and someone getting lost. I was a bit worried because although Finding Nemo was great, if I wanted to see it I’d rent a DVD. Thankfully, this initial phase of mimicry quickly dissipates and the film finds its feet and its own distinctive style. That’s what I loved about this movie – that it’s so different from Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo was an epic roadtrip adventure which was all about the journey; whereas Finding Dory while still having an adventure element to it, is housed in a fixed destination.
I say that this film is quite different to its predecessor but it still manages to have that same heart and emotional core that made the first film so memorable. This is a Pixar film so – like it or not – those Pixar-Tears are coming for you. This movie had me bawling! I was inconsolable near the end and the emotional rollercoaster this film sends you on is spectacular. Once again the themes of family and friendship are beautifully explored and these will truly tug on your heartstrings. The film isn’t all sad though and is truly funny. I was actually surprised with how humorous this film manged to be.
There are a numerous new characters in this film and without exception they were all fantastic additions. I have to single out Ed O’Neil as Hank – a cranky octopus who gets tangled up in Dory’s search for her parents. O’Neil is spot-on with his voice-acting and perfectly captures the grumpy but loveable appeal of Hank. This is no surprise since O’Neil plays a similar character on hit TV show Modern Family. Idris Elba and Dominic West also have small cameos as a pair of lazy sea lions, Fluke and Rudder. They weren’t in the movie long but every moment was pure gold.
This film is a sequel but it’s also a prequel and explains the story of Dory’s origins. Now prequels can tend to be problematic (just ask George Lucas) because they tend to over-explain our favourite features of beloved characters and thus dilute their wonder. Finding Dory manages to sidestep this problem with masterful ease. It chooses to give clarity on certain aspects of Dory’s personality and mannerisms but still leaves enough mystery in her character for her to remain interesting. Screenwriters, Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse deserve true praise for the wonderful balance between nostalgia and innovation that they strike with this film. I might not have been rushing to see it but I’m so glad that I did.
Overall, Finding Dory is another touchdown for Pixar. It’s full of heart, humour and charm and introduces a plethora of wonderful new elements. It’s actually amazing how much this film manages to do in a runtime of a little over an hour and a half. BRAVO, Pixar! 8/10