Confession: I was hesitant to watch this movie because Disney has a terrible track record with their sequels. The problem is that Disney movies are spectacular, and with the bar raised so high on their feature films, the follow-ups usually feel like half-hearted cash grabs, with obvious exceptions (such as the Toy Story series). On top of that, I actually never liked Finding Nemo; I thought it was boring and missing that usual Disney magic. Both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory play on the theme of being lost and trying to find your family, so you may expect that I’m about to get my hate on with Dory’s adventure.
Surprise: Finding Dory is a great film! Pacing was excellent for the most part, but the movie stands on the strength of its hilarious and diverse cast of characters, which is capable of making you simultaneously laugh and go “d’awwww”. Let’s dive in. This review will contain spoilers.
There are two things that Finding Dory excels at: humour and characters. I didn’t expect this movie to make me laugh as hard as I did, because how far can you really go with fish jokes? I was thus pleasantly surprised with where the writers took the story, opening new avenues for comedy and aquatic satire. For the record, the humour in this film isn’t the same as, let’s say… Wreck-It Ralph. It doesn’t rely on double entendres or witty comebacks. The humour in Finding Dory is about a septipus (he’s missing an arm) pretending to be a baby and a nearsighted whale shark, i.e.: slapstick and simple humour. In a time when this exists and people laugh at kids swearing and douchebag YouTubers, it makes me happy that some storytellers are still willing to make pure-hearted comedy.
Though the story focuses primarily on Dory, her supporting cast is fantastic, bringing more laughs and plot-twists that kept the movie going at a nice pace. Everybody’s favourite will likely be the cynical septipus named Hank, but Destiny the whale shark and Bailey the Beluga are also equally endearing and adorable. Watching this film was a treat because it’s a great example of how to create sympathetic characters in a short amount of time. This efficiency also ties in with the comedy. Hank is afraid of the ocean and must learn to adapt, Destiny is almost blind but more than makes up for it with her big heart, and Bailey’s echo location is broken, but does his best to try and help out his friends. None of this interferes with Dory’s main story, but their personalities add much to the film in terms of humour and plot.
This film is good, and my criticisms are minor. Though the film is creative in many respects, the rehashing of “Finding <____>” was uninspired. They tried to tie it in with Finding Nemo, explaining Dory’s backstory and personality, which was nice, but the plot itself was wholly unoriginal.
This is only a complaint because Pixar has shown just how creative they are with all their other original stories. A family of modern-day superheroes, a maintenance robot left on Earth, a rat-chef in Paris, and so on. I’ll always be more excited for a new original Disney/Pixar movie than I will be for a sequel, and most of Disney’s sequels have shown why.
Under the Sea
From what I can gather, Finding Nemo was a hit in its time, with many people having fond memories of it just like how Disney fans a generation before think of Aladdin and Lion King. Though I didn’t experience Finding Nemo in this way, I can appreciate what the producers have created with this entry.
Like Toy Story, Finding Dory takes place in a world with its own rules, and has been presented carefully enough for audiences to believe in that world, kids more so than adults, sure, but the world is nonetheless charming and quaint. Because the characters never try to do anything beyond what is required of the story, they are believable and perform their roles well enough to keep the movie entertaining.
What I mean by this is that there are many things the producers didn’t do, which they could’ve done. For example: given major current issues, I was surprised they didn’t push on some climate-change agenda into the film, but instead kept the story focused on Dory trying to find her family and friends again. This is why the film is great; it only wants to tell a funny story about a fish with short term memory problems, and nothing more.
Finding Dory is a great film that will make you smile and laugh, whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Disney. Thankfully, this little fishy ain’t a flop. It’s a nice way to distract yourselves for an hour, in the brightly coloured world of moody otters and terrified starfish (best scene). And remember, when life gets tough, just keep swimmin’.
This has been a gamobo review. Thanks for reading.