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.