Finding Dory is like a metaphor for our lead character. Insane, dotty and full of slapstick comedy with just a dusting of heart string-pulling.
After helping her friend Marlin rescue his son Nemo, the fish with short-term memory loss Dory begins to remember her past. Can she find her parents… somewhere out in the ocean?
Finding Dory seemed to me like a terrible idea from the moment it was announced; Finding Nemo is one of my favourite Pixar films, it will often appear in my top films of all time lists. Pixar’s batting average with sequels is… so far fifty-fifty, and you really don’t need a sequel for this.
Finding Nemo really captured the sense of awe, wonder and threat of the open ocean, and had gorgeous visuals and a really simple story and good pacing to balance it all out. As well as some super memorable moments. Perhaps one of the most jarring and… insane… things about Finding Dory by comparison is the distinct lack of ocean.
While they do touch on it briefly, a fish with short-term memory loss, lost in the ocean is a terrifying prospect. Seriously, that is a morbid, harrowing experience. Lucky then how most of the film is spent at a sealife resort / hospital…… on dry land. Cue a lot of slapstick, and I mean a lot.
Tonally Finding Dory is a completely different animal to its predecessor, and while probably the only route Pixar could take with it, I can’t help but say I was a little disappointed. It really is an insane, looney toons experience that just piles contrivances upon contrivances to set our fishy friends to even more unreal and baffling climaxes one after another. If you thought Finding Nemo was drawn out with random events and spontaneous stake-raising… you ain’t seen nothing yet!
I question how crowds of human beings didn’t react to a pram/stroller guiding itself around in broad daylight… because it is being propelled along by octopus tentacles.
However it has such a surrealism to it that I actually found myself agreeing with it at times, much like with Dory in the original film! Naturally there are two whales (what with Dory’s ability to “speak whale” in the original film) called Destiny and Bailey, who provided a good time, and of course Hank the Octopus (or is that Septopus?) whose animation is mesmerising. Visually the quality of Pixar animation is becoming incredibly realistic. The way that the film dips from present day to young Dory as she remembers clues is well done and gives good sense of disorientation. Young Dory is adorable (in fact a lot of the creatures are very cute)
But a lot of the time I was laughing, I couldn’t tell you if I was laughing with it or at it. I was laughing at absurdities being piled on top of absurdities, rather than it being especially clever or witty.
What was further perplexing, was how that a: I didn’t find any of it particularly moving, or tear-jerking, and b: the children in the audience did not seem drawn in and were restless. Two things Pixar are normally great at! I get invested in characters very easily, and whether it was the wonky pacing or perhaps the lack of threat, I just didn’t feel it greatly here.
Finding Dory is a good time. I enjoyed it for what it was, which is an insane slapstick venture with zero importance. I’d say it is at the bottom of Pixar’s repertoire, but that’s because I have very high standards for the incredible studio, and their choice to do something very different was bold.
Additional Marshmallows: There’s a cameo in this… that I can’t personally spoil for you because seeing it believing… that blew my mind a little. It really is the definition of how spontaneously weird this film’s humour is!