For the first ¾ of Finding Dory, the major theme is about letting go and saying goodbye, which is especially ironic because the film is a sequel to a movie that came out 13 years ago.
This disconnect between the movie’s narrative and the studio’s reality is interesting because Finding Dory feels much more like the third film in a trilogy than just a standard sequel. It seems to be relying on calling back to previous ideas rather than building new worlds. Not that the movie is doing anything wrong – in fact, the film is quite good – but it just seems off.
Essentially, the movie is a lot less about the adventure of saving someone lost and a lot more about understanding one character’s past. The film takes place one year after the events of Finding Nemo, and the whole gang is settling into normalcy. However, when Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is reminded about her childhood, she gets a small memory about where she used to live. From there it’s a puzzle to figure out where Dory’s family is.
Because of Dory’s unique character trait (short-term memory loss, for those of you who haven’t seen the original (who are you?)), there is a nice little mystery putting the pieces back together in Dory’s life. The character becomes more sympathetic and less of a gimmick, which is cool to see. While new characters are introduced, the environment stays mostly static due to the film being much more about finding the answers rather than going the distance. There is so much emotional manipulation, but that’s to be expected because it is a kid’s movie.
I saw this movie with my family, and once again my eight-year-old sister (though she’s almost nine) has agreed to do an interview regarding her thoughts on the film.
Andrew: What was your overall impression of the movie?
Elizabeth: Umm… what does ‘overall impression’ mean?
Andrew: What did you think of the movie?
Elizabeth: I liked it! Like, equal with The Angry Birds Movie I guess, which I liked a lot.
Andrew: Have you seen the original Finding Nemo?
Elizabeth: Yeah, in 2nd grade not so long ago when we finished our coral reef learning, we got to watch Finding Nemo as a reward!
Andrew: Do you think this was better or worse than the original?
However, as much as the movie has a nice structure and is a lot of fun to watch, it doesn’t leave an incredibly lasting impression. Finding Dory seems to rely too heavily on the nostalgia factor of the first film, with perhaps too many callbacks and not enough moments that stick out in a special way. Of course, there are exceptions, but by and large the movie seems just a little too pleasant. That said, it adds a lot to the different characters, and ultimately seems like a rewarding addition to the film’s story.
As always with Pixar films, the animation is spot on. It’s only a shame that there isn’t more movement for the characters within the film. I would have loved to see some crazy sequences, but instead I got some cool sequences. I’m not complaining, it’s just that the movie seems a little restrained. It seems to be wrapping up the storyline instead of adding more, which is a strange thing to do when resurrecting such an old (by Pixar standards) and classic film.
Of course, in the last ¼ of the movie, the film pivots and focuses on what it means to be family. That’s nice, and all of the messages the movie sends across the board are good, particularly related to the treatment of fish in captivity. Any problems in Finding Dory certainly don’t come from a lack of heart. And while the movie is destined to be an extremely popular film around the world, it’s a certain lack of adventure that might hold it back from being just as good as the original.