Finding Dory, is the next edition to the Pixar franchise starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooke, Ed O’Neill and Hayden Rolence. 13 years after its predecessor, Finding Nemo released in 2003, this time instead of searching for Nemo, we are finding our friend Dory (hence the title), as she begins to search for her parents. Andrew Stanton is back at the helm of co-director with Angus Mclane is taking Lee Unkrich’s place as the other co-director. We also have three new writers joining Stanon. But back again to write our score is Thomas Newman, who also worked on Finding Nemo, as well as Wall-E in 2008 and newer releases like Spectre (2015) and Bridge of Spies (2015).
The film opens with a flashback of Dory as a baby, paralleling the first movie (which is something that happens a lot). In this flashback we find out that Dory has had short-term memory loss since she was born. In Finding Nemo I always thought it was creative how one of the main characters, a fish of all things, has short term memory loss. I don’t know if a fish can have short-term memory loss, and frankly I really don’t care to find out, but it was an interesting dynamic. It never hindered the film in terms of staying on track with its main conflict, which was to find Nemo. In Finding Dory we get a whole movie based almost solely on this one issue of the character. Luckily, the film does a good job at keeping itself on track, for the most part, of staying focused on the problem at hand and doesn’t really stray from that.
To me, Finding Nemo is kind of an animated epic. The film gives the audience an entire ocean to explore and meet new characters and new environments, it’s very creative and a big adventure. Finding Dory opens with a new environment but then shows us how she came to meet Marlin after getting lost from her parents. This opening, however, begs me to ask. How come after remembering to look for her parents for so many years, why does she seem to forget to continue searching for them when she meets Marlin? Maybe I’m nitpicking, but it just seemed rather odd to place this movie both before and after the events of the first one.
Speaking of Dory’s short-term memory loss, the film sure enjoys reminding the audience that she has this issue. But thankfully after the first act this seems to die down a bit. The first act of Finding Dory is, to me, distractingly choppy and poorly paced. The movie jumps around topics and situations just to get us to the real beginning of the film when she remembers and starts to look for her parents. It doesn’t take its time to build the plot, making things more believable. But, like most of my issues with this movie, once we get past the first act, this movie gets better.
As I had stated earlier, Finding Nemo has more of an epic feel to it. A small clownfish is forced to trek the entire ocean to find his son who was taken captive by scuba divers. On this journey we meet a whole slew of unforgettable characters a small fish may encounter while on the before mentioned journey. And I feel this is where Finding Dory has its biggest problem. The movie feels like a step down; it doesn’t feel like a sequel. Instead of the entire ocean to discover, we get…an entire aquarium. Last time it felt like an actual journey to explore the ocean and see what Pixar could create. But at the end of the day, it was more of an educational experience than anything, because of the ocean setting. But we took a step back and get to journey through the inner workings of an aquarium…how…exciting.
I also feel like a lot of this movie is convenience, especially when we get to the ending (I’ll get to that in a little bit). For instance, getting Dory on her adventure Marlin says that he “knows a guy”. And that guy is Crush from Finding Nemo, a turtle who’s constantly moving, to help them. It doesn’t explain how he was able to catch up with him, it just cuts to our main characters riding on the back of turtles. At least in Finding Nemo, we got to see how Marlin came across each new character, and we do get some of that here. But it really isn’t until we get to the aquarium when the movie really starts to focus.
The ending of Finding Dory was a big roller coaster. One that, for me, got tiring after a while because of conflicts that kept being shoved in my face. I’m okay with an ending that’s intense and a race against the clock, but when there are conflicts that seemingly come out of nowhere for the sake of being a conflict, I tend to have issues with it. This is kind of the same with Finding Nemo too, but they use something they had learned earlier in the film to get out of the situation. Finding Dory creates a situation, then creates another, and another and another, until it ends in a very ridiculous way.
But, what makes Finding Dory so much fun for me is te slew of new characters, unlike Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water. This film may not have as many new characters as Finding Nemo does, but they are still a lot of fun. Sometimes convenient, just like Finding Nemo, but still fun nonetheless. And where this movie really shines for me is the central conflict. A lost kid trying to find her parents. It brought up an interesting conflict and an even better resolution. The ending, however a bit unbelievable, was still a lot of fun. This movie is just as colorful and jam-packed as Finding Nemo was. Kids and normal movie-goers will definitely have a fun time with this one. I had fun, despite my issues. I’m giving Finding Dory a 7/10 stars. I would like to give it a 7.5, but we don’t believe in halves.