You may not have a lot to think about afterwards, but you’ll have a sufficient amount to marvel at during.
The thing about Finding Dory is it’s not just about Finding Dory.
I feel like I have no other choice but to write a review about Pixar in addition to their new film. The reason is Pixar movies are one of the things you can pretty much guarantee almost every person you know will see. You’re going to see it, your mom is going to see it, your co-workers are going to see it, and unless they’re from a family of world-shunning whackos, every child in America is going see it; in terms of general audiences, of course. So let’s all pretend that’s you, reading this right now. You are the general audience. Finding Dory probably already has your ticket. Sure, this means they may not have to try as hard like with their non-sequel, more conceptual projects, and that just may be what happened. If you share my taste, you’ll still be waiting for something to top the accomplishments of Inside Out for its themes or Wall-E for its storytelling after Finding Dory is over. But now don’t go on worrying. Your ticket is in good hands. Capable hands. Fish hands.
Does the story dare to go where no fish has gone before? No. Instead, it goes to California (not Sydney, as in the previous film). And yeah, it pretty much goes where the fish went before: from the comfort of their home to the perilous outside ocean-world in order to find missing relatives. This time, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) sets out in search of her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Spooky, subterranean graveyards with creepy-crawly predators pose a threat to Dory, Marlon, and Nemo (Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence), there’s an eccentric variety of sea dwellers (all voiced by recognizable comedic actors, such as Kaitlin Olson and Ty Burrell), and daring tank escapes occur in record numbers. Just like in the first one. There are even a few scenes that are borrowed from other, unrelated Pixar projects. A scene in a petting tank is basically a repeat of the toddler room sequence in Toy Story 3.
I do want to recommend seeing it in 3D, because the scenes where it’s used effectively approach perfection. The problem is, a lot of the movie takes place in a SeaWorld type amusement park, where there are little wide-open spaces and natural ocean backgrounds to make full use of the technology. Often times, I forgot I was even watching a 3D movie. Don’t despair, however. There’s plenty of good fun to be had in other areas.
Pixar almost always delivers on interesting and vivid character design, and this is no exception. While somewhat simplistic, the look of the characters is effective and telling, their physical features and movements made great use of. A crotchety octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) is the standout among them, having the ability to camouflage and contort, which is of great use for the other characters in addition to providing comedic punch. Sure, the scenery isn’t as expansive or immersive as I expected and would have liked, but it sure is detailed and beautiful. Come to mention it, the short before the movie, Piper, showcases some of the greatest advancements in photorealistic animation seen so far. The sand looks like actual sand, the grass looks like grass. The water looks like—no, is water.
So by all means, go see Finding Dory and make a day of it. Sit somewhere in the middle center and pretend you’re an invisible, omnipresent fish watching over the events. And then when it’s done, go home. You may not have a lot to think about afterwards, but you’ll have a sufficient amount to marvel at during. | Nic Champion