“Finding Dory” Review

It has occurred to me that Disney/Pixar is having an extraordinarily successful year.  Not only are they bringing in the big bucks (Zootopia alone is over $1 billion now), but nearly every movie they’re releasing is gathering universal praise.  With the exceptions of The Finest Hours and Alice Through the Looking Glass, every movie that Disney has produced this year has a 90% rating or higher.  What I’m getting at is that Disney movies are doing well, but I don’t think some of them deserve as much praise as they are receiving.  There is going to be a follow-up post to this review, because I really don’t understand people’s reactions to movies this year.  In any case, today we have Finding Dory, Pixar’s 3d attempt at making a prequel/sequel to one of their classics.  I am not counting the Toy Story sequels (cuz they’re equally great), and believe it or not, I don’t hate the idea of expanding on fantastic Pixar films.  I just hate when they screw it up (Monsters University, Cars 2).  Guys, I have good news, this sequel is a worthy successor!

Finding Dory is directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus McLane.  It is written by: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, and Victoria Strouse.  Stars-Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, and Kaitlin Olsen.  Premise-A year has passed since Dory’s big adventure with Marlin and Dory recalls something from her past, something she’s been trying to find for years.

In terms of comic relief characters, I believe Dory is in the top ten of all time in any medium.  Everything she says in Finding Nemo is pure comedic gold!  From the iconic jingle, to the running gags (constantly getting Nemo’s name wrong is my favorite), the cartoony expressions, “speaking whale,” and of course one of the best casting choices of all time, Ellen DeGeneres, Dory is a character most of Western culture identifies with as a warm memory of their childhood.  I love Dory, you love Dory, and she’s what brought Finding Nemo half of its charm.  However, I did not think placing her in the spotlight was a smart idea, especially when this movie came out in the wake of Minions, a film that only reinforced the notion that comic relief characters can’t hold their own movie.  Congratulations writers, you have proved me wrong.

This movie has its issues (many of them actually), but as a whole, it is very solid.  The animation is fast-paced and beautifully detailed, most of the humor is fun, and the new characters they introduce, while not as varied as in Finding Nemo, are entertaining and memorable.  The voice acting (with a few exceptions) is fine, and Thomas Newman’s music is beautiful.

The biggest problem with the movie is the first act/climax.  In the first act, everything is too fast-paced, and it is in this part of the movie where the writers try their hardest to “remind” you of what you loved in Finding Nemo (references, and repeated jokes are aplenty in the first 30 minutes).  They also play up Dory’s forgetfulness a bit too much in the first third, which is remedied later on when other characters are introduced.  I feel like they were trying to make the movie more of a comedy rather than a drama.  Finding Nemo was a dramatic tearjerker with clever comedy evenly dispersed; Finding Dory is a comedy with enough drama to keep it from resembling the tone of a Farrelly Brothers film.  Because of that, Finding Dory doesn’t have as much of a constant feeling of emotional investment, which is something most perfect Pixar films have.

While this movie is (more or less) strongly written, there are quite a few major problems I have yet to address.  For one, the title of this movie is very misleading.  The movie is not at all about finding Dory.  It is Dory trying to find something.  Just know that going in, otherwise you’ll be extremely confused.  Remember what I said about the climax of this movie?  We get not one, but two Deus Ex Machinas in the last third, the climax itself goes on for too long, and (since it’s a Pixar movie) you can predict exactly what the outcome is going to be.

This movie is fun.  This movie looks wonderful.  This movie has many story issues, but it’s fairly strong compared to other seemingly unnecessary Pixar sequels.  Does it deserve it’s 95% rating?  Well, it deserves it more than the freaking Jungle Book remake does, which ain’t saying much.  Here is what I said to the concessions employee (cool guy) at my theater after the movie was over, “It’s not as perfect as its predecessor, but it’s worth at least one viewing.”  He was taking orders so I didn’t have much time to tell him, but that is the gist of my opinion on the movie.  Finding Dory gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B+.
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