Fins for the Memories: A review of Finding Dory

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There’s both no reason and a strong reason for Finding Dory to exist. On one hand, it’s an unnecessary sequel that isn’t as good as the original, on the other, it finds a way to tell a compelling story about a character whose backstory was an unanswered question in Finding Nemo.

It’s indeed both to the Films merit and fault that I came away with both impressions of the ocean based hit. Whilst I did like it, it was funny, emotional and beautifully animated, I did come away feeling like it wasn’t as sharp or engaging as I wanted.

Which is a confusing emotion for someone whose love of Pixar is only comparable to that of my love of air, in as much as I need it.

It’s just I came away from my first watch, feeling a little empty. I wasn’t annoyed or bored, but neither was I thrilled or wiping away tears of happiness.

The second watch was better. A better appreciation of the stuff I didn’t like and a greater amount of concentration on my part to think about what I was watching.

Yet, my opinion hasn’t overly changed. I still feel like there’s a divide in the Film between the necessity of the story it tells about Dory and its adherence to the past, which really fails to make me engage with it.

I feel like I’m really being down on this when Pixar is my holy grail and Finding Nemo is easily in my top three of the Films in their cannon. It’s just there’s so much that I felt, perhaps, a little cold about.

I thought the first act until Dory arrived at the aquarium was too quick in getting going. References to the past were thrown in, literally talking about the events of the first Film, the return of Mr Ray, Crush and the rest of the turtles and even a scene that was practically a remake of the shark chase scene from the first Film, but with a Giant Squid instead of a Great White

Until Dory and Co. arrived at the Marine Life Institue, it was padding and I wasn’t going with any of it.

Once we meet Hank, the seven legged Octopus, things pick up and the creative new characters and the interesting change of location give the Film a pick me up. There’s moments of beauty, hilarity and when we get back to the meat of the Dory story, some moments of delicacy.

However, there’s an increasing amount of over the top set pieces. I believe a bird can pick fish up in a bucket. I believe, just about, that two fish can bounce from jet fountain to tank. Yet I cannot buy an Octopus driving a truck, even in an animated Film.

It worked in Toy Story 2 but here it felt like too much. The story didn’t lead the finale, the set piece did and it was a bit disheartening for a Film that went to some very dark, serious and adult places just a few minutes before.

In the end, this is a Film about Dory, her disability and the search for her parents which is where the Film is a triumph. The writing wonderfully displaying a knack for balancing the humour and heart in our leads character and I loved the wonderful treatment of her disability, how it didn’t define her and helped her find her parents.

I love these positive reinforcements and lessons that kids will take home. I love this relationship with her parents and at times it was spot on with its emotional gut punch. Baby Dory was the most adorable thing in the world and it was 100% the best way to do a sequel. To focus on a disabled female character and striving for an emotional core was a massive plus and I really respect that.

Yet, my problems with the Film still remain.

Still, the animation was, of course, beautiful and Hank was one of the most superbly realised characters on screen this year. Also, the Piper short before the Film was, as usual, beautiful.

Rating: B

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