As some of you may know, Finding Nemo is possibly my all time favorite animated film. That’s partly due to nostalgia, true, but I do find the movie still holds up on its own merits. And I probably don’t have to go into too much detail as to why. I’d venture there won’t be a single person reading this who isn’t at least familiar with Finding Nemo. I’m one of the kids who grew up with it, and chances are, you’re in a similar position as me or are at least aware of it and the cultural significance it holds for a lot of people. It’s a genuine Pixar classic. Anyway, here’s a completely unnecessary, 13 years-too-late sequel centered around the one part of the original that might actually not hold up as well as the rest of the movie and… Huh. Still pretty great all things considered.
What’s I found most surprising about Finding Dory was how it relatively fast it blew through all the retreading of familiar territory most decades late sequels get stuck in. From the advertising I was expecting almost the entire movie to be something like a nostalgic roadshow of “Hey remember this” moments, but amazingly they actually manage to clear all that in about the first 20 minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie comprises of Dory, Nemo, and Marlin attempting to navigate a California based Marine Hospital in an attempt to find Dory’s parents who she has suddenly remembered.
What’s also surprising is how relatively seriously (for a children’s movie keep in mind) they actually end up taking Dory’s mental condition in this movie. In the first movie it was definitely never handled insultingly but it was generally played for laughs, whereas this movie almost immediately lets you know this isn’t so much a laughing matter anymore. This does get kinda problematic, however, seeing as how there are 2 throw-away characters who are at least implied to be somewhat mentally negligible who are mostly played for laughs. It’s not insulting by any means but I do kinda have to wonder if the people at Pixar were thinking about this hard enough.
What I’m trying to get at is, strip away the hijinks and the story of Dory is basically a diet version of Leonard from Momento. It’s a pretty bold direction Pixar’s taken and I almost can’t blame them that (yet again) it seems like they’re holding the real bulk of the drama back in order to not horribly emotionally scar any of the adults (yes, adults) in the audience. It’s gonna be interesting to see when Pixar finally decides to just cut lose and throw an emotional curve-ball so earth-shatteringly sad it makes the opening of Up look like The Backyardigans, but don’t worry, they haven’t reached that point just yet. Instead, what we’re treated to is 97 minutes of more beautiful Pixar animation, new environments and set-pieces that get increasingly more entertaining and inventive as the movie goes along, AND incredibly charming new characters. Another thing that threw me for a loop was just how likable the new characters are. They’re drastically different from any of the characters in the first movie and are memorable in their own right. I won’t go into detail here because these characters deserve to be experienced without any set-up, but suffice it to say that I found them all really charming.
Considering how dirt-low I had set my expectations, I found Finding Dory to be pleasantly surprising and a lot more fun then completely narratively pointless sequels like this have any right to be. I think Pixar’s pretty hit or miss on its follow up movies, and I really hope they just keep working on original stuff whenever possible, but Finding Dory is a pretty solid hit.
The Media Fire gives this movie an 8.5/10