by Adam Riske
There is a lot of awful shit happening in the world as of late and it’s gotten me very down. The reason I bring this up is because movies are important in times like these. They can take your mind off of things temporarily and, if we’re lucky, put a little bit of good into the world as well. Finding Dory is refreshingly one of those movies with something heartfelt and nice to convey. It could have easily been a cash-grab sequel, but the folks at Pixar and Disney wisely did right by their property and took their time to produce a movie with some important messages. This is why they have a loyal fan base: because Pixar and Disney care about their audience.
Once again, just like in most of their work, I am in awe of the themes Pixar and Disney explore in their movies. In the case of Finding Dory, there are messages about friendship, problem solving, self-worth and (most importantly) interpersonal relationships and the inner lives of those with disabilities. The title character in Finding Dory has short-term memory loss, but her condition could easily be an allegory for any type of learning disability. The script of Finding Dory is a gem because it not only encourages patience with such disabilities but also posits that these challenges can not only be managed but also can make you a unique and valuable contributor in their own right. The ongoing mantra of Finding Dory is “What would Dory do?” and Dory’s quick decision-making is viewed as an asset because it can also be seen as adventurous and spontaneous. The character of Dory is inspirational for a person like me who makes themselves miserable sometimes because they over-think things.
Frozen and Big Hero 6, but Pixar (just as they did with the landscape animation from last year’s The Good Dinosaur) proves once again that they are pushing the envelope in photo-realistic animation. Some of the little details (such as the sand) are stunning to look at. I also want to give them props for fully animating their end credits sequence. Pixar and Disney could have saved some budget by just having the credits roll over a black screen, but instead we’re treated to several minutes more of gorgeous animation. As I mentioned earlier, these studios really seem to care about giving the audience maximum bang for their buck.
Finding Dory is also a great amount of fun. It has an interesting flow and structure unlike most movies. Instead of hitting the familiar beats in a way we’ve seen before, it kind of meanders but always to something cute or funny or exciting. In that way, the movie interestingly takes the same point of view as its protagonist in that anything can happen at any moment. This is also the film where something I used to criticize in Pixar and Disney movies kind of crystalized and turned into an asset for me. I used to dislike when these studios’ movies would take all of the emotional goodwill they built over their first two acts and then regress into third act action nonsense. It felt like a commercial decision more than an artistic one in some of their films such as Up, but now I realize that these action beats (which Finding Dory has one as well) balance out the emotional beats and makes them stronger as a result. The themes are the peanut butter and the action is the jelly. Without them the movie would be, as I said before, a lecture instead of summertime blockbuster.
Thanks for this nice review, Adam. I think you nailed it on the head with "is also a great amount of fun". My kids were going to a movie birthday party yesterday, and I tagged along to see it (unfortunately in 3d). Having primed ourselves by watching Finding Nemo the previous evening, it took me a little bit to get "into" the movie as I found myself compared it to its predecessor. But after 10 minutes I was entirely lost in the movie and loving it. I haven't laughed loudly at the movies in a long time, and I was in the perfect mood. I hope that I wasn't being an ass, but I was laughing a lot. Loudly. But if there is a time and place for laughing loudly at the movies, it's during the first Sunday matinee, in a theater full of kids.ReplyDelete
I too, took notice that the gorgeous animation continued throughout the credits. As the theater emptied out, including the birthday party group I was with, I stayed and enjoyed it.
For sure, there is probably some things to criticize, but I had so much fun that I'm going to dwell there for a while. I think Junesploitation, with all the blood and gore and misery, was starting to get to me, and this was exactly what I needed.
Thanks for the comment. I hope it didn't seem like I was throwing any Junesploitation shade as I've seen some cool movies this month of the exploitation variety (e.g Shogun Assassin, Mystery of Chess Boxing and Dressed to Kill). I'm just in a mood where I need "nice" movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Intern or Finding Dory.Delete
This movie was so much better than it needed to be, expectations blown away. Pixar just has a way of getting you to connect with their characters that other animated films have trouble with. Pixar could have just mailed this one in, made a ton of money and fans of the original would have been perfectly happy with that result, but Pixar doesn't do that, they don't make sequels to just 'cash in', they set the trends and are always raising the bar (Cars 2 excluded, lol). I think you were right Adam, this movie came out at the perfect time, with all the recent tragedy, this film was the perfect escape. What an amazing world to get lost in, too. Spectacular animation coupled with life like characters, enable you to literally get lost in these characters. For example: I knew that Ed O'Neal was going to voice a character in the movie going in, but after a while I completely forgot who was voicing who, so it wasn't distracting at all, because the story and relationships happening and developing on screen are so rich. O'Neal's character stole the show for me. I totally identified with that character, wanting to just be left alone and having nearly given up on being around others, but all it takes is someone special like a 'Dory' to remind us that we're not all terrible monsters, or hurtful selfish people, there's still a lot of decent, good people out there that are worth getting to know and building relationships with. Just Keep Swimming...God I loved this movie!ReplyDelete
Forgot to mention how heartbreaking the Dory characters storyline was at times, I literally laughed at how quickly I teared up, I turned to my girlfriend and was like 'Pixar got me again'. The flashback scenes with the baby Dory and her parents especially got to me.Delete
An emotional rollercoaster to say the least, full of different kinds of enjoyment. It was as funny as it was dramatic, the perfect balance. A true display of the connections that can be built with others. It didn't fall into the sequel trap of relying on characters, premises and call backs to the first film either.
This honestly might top my list for 2016. It's between this and The Nice Guys, which I absolutely loved. Not even close to a top 10 list at this point though.
I'm glad you brought up Ed O' Neill's character. He got to me too. It's cool that he becomes happier through helping someone else because it gets him to think of someone other than himself. The best part is the movie doesn't hit you on the head with that message.Delete
And those flashback scenes....omg...those flashback scenes.
Great review...your intro is so relevant. My co-blogger reviewed this one, but I won't see it until later this week! Cannot wait :)ReplyDelete
Finding Dory is definitely a bright spot in summer lineup I'm still largely ambivalent about (as far as wide releases go anyway).ReplyDelete
I'm really glad to hear that you had such a positive experience with this movie. I was a little hesitant about whether Finding Dory would exist as anything more than a cash grab/expansion of a franchise, and now I'm looking forward to seeing it.ReplyDelete
I have to admit that I didn't enjoy Finding Dory too much. The plot wasn't clever enough. Winding up in an aquarium is an obvious choice and not nearly as ingenious as the fish tank in a dentist's office. The emotional themes were heavy-handed and strangely inconsistent. In the first film, it's established that Dory has poor short-term memory, but amazing long-term memory, which is why she can speak whale and read human. How could she possibly forget her parents or where she was born? The film was somewhat joyless, with too few pleasurable episodes and bit characters. The giant squid is a lackluster threat compared to the uproarious sharks in AA. It seemed to me that Finding Nemo already accomplished everything this movie strived to accomplish. The lauded "raising a disabled child" moral was achieved with Nemo. He had a deformed fin, but his disability wasn't rammed down our throats. For me, the process of "Finding" Dory was tiring and uninspired.ReplyDelete