Finding Dory (Pixar) Review
Finding Nemo is one of the best, if not the best, animated movies of the last 15 years. It made a killing at the box office, too, so a sequel was inevitable. It finally arrived this weekend, and I went to go see it. Comparisons to the original were also inevitable, but I tried to enjoy it as a standalone film. So, is it good?
At the time of this writing, Finding Dory stands at a 94% approval at RottenTomatoes. I agree with the critics on this one; I’m happy to report that it is a very worthwhile successor to Nemo. Going in, I was afraid the film would hit the same beats as the first movie, and that Dory wouldn’t be a strong enough character to carry her own movie. Luckily, I was wrong on both counts.
Let me preface my list of pros by saying that Finding Dory is not as good as Finding Nemo. However, that’s basically a perfect movie and it would be almost impossible to catch lightning in a bottle, twice. However, Dory does a laudable job and ALMOST reaches the heights of its predecessor. There’s a lot to love about this movie, and I’ll outline some of my favorite aspects below.
- The animation. This is always Pixar’s strongest suit, and here the studio is at the top of their game. Every frame is gorgeous. The color palette is the most vibrant I’ve seen in any of Pixar’s movies, and the flashback sequences are a work of magic. (The Batman v. Superman people should take notes.) The water effects all deserve a special mention, too. As an artist myself, I know how tricky water is to render, whether it’s by hand or by computer. Here, the artists must render underwater scenes, fish tanks of variable cleanliness, water fountains, and much more. Whether you like the story or not, I think you’ll be enthralled by the look of this film.
- The story. As I mentioned in my introduction, I was afraid that this movie would hit the same beats as Finding Nemo. It did not. The stories were similar, to be sure, with the roles reversed. (In Nemo, it was a father looking for his son while in Dory, it’s a daughter looking for her parents.) However, while the first film was more of an action/adventure film with a human villain, this one is more of a detective story. Dory’s short-term memory loss condition serves both as the spark to start the plot as well as the film’s major antagonist. It’s a very creative choice, and it pays off.
- The humor. Like the best Pixar movies, this one is also very funny. There’s a scene in a touch pool that had me in stitches. It’s played like a horror comedy, which is my favorite genre. I won’t spoil the best bits here, but you’ve probably seen the clips in the trailers. The sea lions are also hilarious; every scene with them is a knee slapper.
- The new characters. Hank (the octopus voiced by Ed O’Neill) is the stand out here, and Pixar knew it. He steals the show as an animal who claims to want to be put in a cage yet is the most free and mobile of all the animals in the marine park. I was nervous that the beluga whale and the whale shark would just be shoehorned in to the movie to sell toys, but they end up being vital to the movie’s climax. Several animals in this movie have various mental and physical disorders, and the movie is a surprising yet touching love letter to children with disabilities and the parents who love them.
- The action. Finding Dory starts slowly but builds up the tension until the very end, and the final sequence is enthralling. I won’t give it away here, but I was literally at the edge of my seat.
- The short film. I’ve enjoyed most of Pixar’s short films, and this one was another winner. It was called Piper, and it was about a young sandpiper learning about his environment and how to be independent. It looked gorgeous, the story was basic but powerful, and it was a good fit to precede the feature film.
I really enjoyed Finding Dory, but it fails in some of the ways Finding Nemo did not. I only have a couple of cons to mention, but they’re in there.
- A slow start. The first fifteen minutes was very cutesy, and I was afraid the entire movie would be too saccharine. Fortunately, my fears would prove unfounded. However, if I wasn’t such a big fan of the first movie I may not have stuck around for this one. (I’m glad I did.)
- The squid sequence. I was really looking forward to the giant squid sequence, but it ended up being a little anticlimactic. The danger was over too quickly, and nothing really felt like it was at stake. The scene should have been padded out or cut completely, in my opinion. It didn’t really take away from the movie, but it really didn’t add anything either.
- Nemo and Marlin. Surprisingly enough, Nemo and Marlin didn’t feel vital to the story (until the very end). The relationship between Dory and the clownfish could have been explored a little bit more in depth, and that would make their relationships and their peril feel more important.
Look, if you liked Finding Nemo, you’re already going to go see this. I don’t have to convince you. It’s a lot of fun for the whole family, not just for the kids. Get out of the heat and go see it, you won’t be disappointed!
Story: ★★★★ of 5
Action: ★★★½ of 5
Visuals: ★★★★★ of 5
Overall: ★★★★½ of 5
Pixar Movies Ranked
My ranking of the Pixar films (so far), from best to worst. This was a very difficult list to make, as Pixar doesn’t really have any bad films. This is just my opinion, and it could change the very next time I read it. Please share your own list in the comments.
- Toy Story 2
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story
- The Incredibles
- Inside Out
- Monsters, Inc.
- Toy Story 3
- Incredibles 2
- Monsters University
- Finding Dory
- A Bug’s Life
- Cars 3
- The Good Dinosaur
- Cars 2
(I haven’t seen it yet.)
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