Pixar’s 17th feature film, Finding Dory, is a sequel to its fifth, Finding Nemo. In the world of the movie, only a few months have passed, but in real life it’s been about 13 years since we last dipped below the ocean with Nemo, Marlin, and Dory. Is the magic still there?
If you ask the critics, the answer seems to be “yes”: Finding Dory currently has a 90something rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and our own Peter Sciretta was a big fan. If you ask moviegoers, the answer is also “yes”: Finding Dory is projected to break the all-time opening weekend record for an animated film. But we’re asking you. What did you think of Finding Dory? Join us below for a discussion of Pixar’s latest animated adventure. Be warned that SPOILERS are ahead and in the comments.
In a lot of ways, Finding Dory plays to Pixar’s strengths. The colorful underwater setting offers Pixar many, many opportunities to show off its visual artistry, and introduce all manner of weird and lovable characters. The best of these, in my opinion, is Hank the octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He’s a cranky sort who’s a softie on the inside, and director Andrew Stanton and his team have a lot of fun playing with the possibilities of a creature who can climb walls, squeeze into tight corners, and change color at will. Other highlights include a pair of sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West — they’re hilarious even before you realize it’s a The Wire mini-reunion.
Ellen DeGeneres hasn’t missed a beat as Dory, imbuing this happy-go-lucky character with poignant depth. Dory’s forgetful nature isn’t just a cute quirk, but a disability that shapes who she is and how she sees the world — but does not, it should be noted, limit her from living life to the fullest. Movies so often dehumanize or idolize special needs characters, when they aren’t ignoring them outright, and it’s refreshing to see one who gets to be the hero of her own story.
On the flip side, there’s something a little too familiar about Finding Dory. Maybe that’s to be expected, considering it’s a sequel, but it’s still a bit disappointing. At their best, Pixar transports us to dazzling new universes, taking us on unpredictable adventures and finding deep lessons in unexpected places. Finding Dory is sweet and funny and moving, but there’s not much about this one that feels genuinely surprising or new. Which, in turn, makes me worried about Pixar’s upcoming slate. Of their next four films, three are sequels. The only completely original movie they have coming up is Coco, due out in 2017.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Pixar is still one of the most trusted brands in Hollywood, and Finding Dory kicks off with a perfect reminder of why that is. The short film attached to this one is Alan Barillaro Piper, a wordless piece about a baby bird learning to find food on its own. The animation is some of the most beautiful work Pixar has ever done, and the baby bird is one of Pixar’s most adorable creations — which is really, really saying something. Finding Dory is worth seeing on its own merits, especially if you’re a big Pixar fan, but Piper bumps it up to a must-see.
Okay, I’ve said my piece. Now it’s your turn. Did you like Finding Dory? How do you think it stacks up against Pixar’s other films? How about against the original Finding Nemo? Is the third-act car chase a thrilling turn, or a (literal) bridge too far? Is it weird that Finding Dory has zero regard for human life, to the point where it encourages us to root for an octopus driving the wrong way down a highway? Who’s your new favorite weirdo: Gerald or Becky? Did you remember to stick around for the credits? Do you want more Finding Nemo movies, and if so, who should the next one be about?Cool Posts From Around the Web: