Friday, June 17, 2016


In 2003, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios told us the story of a father searching for his lost son. The dedicated dad had help from his friend Dory, who had short-term memory loss. The setting for this adventure was the ocean, the characters were fish, and the adventure was called FINDING NEMO. Here in 2016, the characters are back, and this time…it’s Dory who takes center-ocean.

Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a fish who forgets things seconds after they happen, begins having flashbacks to the day she was separated from her parents. She sets out on a journey across the ocean with her friends Marlin (Albert Brooks), and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) to find them.

Every character has a beginning, and FINDING DORY pulls no punches in its opening sequence to firmly establish the origins of Dory. It’s an emotional gut-punch which is sure to bring tears, but the pure brilliance behind the prologue is that for as much as it brings all the feels, it stops just short of being complete. It’s a brilliant move, as the rest of Dory’s backstory is filled in through her flashbacks as they are triggered by her encounters.

With her flashbacks guiding her through the ocean, things take a turn (and an eventual major whopper of a twist), which lands her in a Marine Institute/aquarium, where all species of fish are on display and eventually returned to their natural habitat. There, Dory meets several other characters, including a cranky octopus (Ed O’Neill) and a sea lion (Idris Elba). Each encounter brings Dory a step closer to her goal while teaching her a thing or two…and the film isn’t just about Dory finding her family, but her own search for herself.

Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton is working with several layers of storytelling here.  In standard glorious Pixar fashion, FINDING DORY is certainly about family, adventure, and the search for one’s own true self, but with Dory’s “handicap” of short-term memory loss...the film takes on a whole new level. One can feel the frustration with characters as their patience is tested when having to repeat things over and over to Dory, and real-world parents of handicapped children are sure to take a lesson or two from the film. It’s bold and daring, and it’s done in a tasteful and charming manner.

As usual, Pixar’s outstanding computer-generated animation is eye-popping. Stanton keeps the pacing brisk and humor timed well, and the slower emotional moments have a lot of weight. The fairly large cast of characters seems like a lot, but each one gets their due time and none feel like dead weight. Stanton gets marvelous performances out of his talented cast, including Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Idris Elba, Dominic West…and a few other surprises. Thomas Newman adds a beautiful score.

The goddamn 3D is pointless.

As expected, FINDING DORY goes for an emotional turn towards the end, but then adds on an unexpected and unnecessary chase scene involving cops and a cargo truck. It’s a little anti-climactic and a minor gripe in what is a wholly satisfying cinematic experience. FINDING DORY is fun and emotional with some excellent lessons to take home, and is another treasure in Pixar’s ocean.



FINDING NEMO is preceded by the short-film PIPER, which has some of the best photo-realistic CG animation ever put to film.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.