Finding Dory



I can’t properly get in to my issues with Finding Dory without discussing a fairly key part of the ending so if you are looking to avoid spoilers then I would stop reading and come back once you’ve seen the movie. Mind you, it’s just Finding Dory so maybe we should just both chill out about it. It’s not as though Nemo turns out to be a ghost or Keyser Söze or Luke’s father.

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My problem with the film is that the animals steal a truck. It is just too much, it’s too overblown, it’s too unsubtle and it’s too unsophisticated. It’s also too generic; it’s too much what I expect from other animation studios and not at all what I expect from these guys. In fact I’ve seen it in the work of other animation studios, more than once. The same thing happened at the end of Over the Hedge, then it happened in The Secret Life of Pets and as things started going that way here I was thinking ‘please no Pixar, come on, you are not going to be that predictable, you are better than that’. (I felt the same way when I saw the song and dance number coming at the end of Zootropolis.) Anyway, it turned out they weren’t better than that. They extended beyond the parameters of their own film. It was ridiculous enough when it was raccoons and cats and dogs in those other movies but this was a fish and an octopus driving a heavy road vehicle. When it eventually sped off the road and over the sea it actually jumped the shark, literally and figuratively. Sure it was done with more style than previously but it was still painfully unoriginal. Where was the Pixar panache? 

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Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe I’m expecting too much but even after a few other disappointing films this animation house has given us reason to hold them to a higher standard. I know The Good Dinosaur wasn’t particularly good and Cars 2 crashed but last year’s Inside Out was mind blowing. It is true that a sub-standard Pixar film is still better than a million Kung Fu Pandas and Ice Ages (I think there have been that many) but this is the studio that gave us Toy Story 3, one of the sweetest, most poignant, most moving films ever to be shown in a cinema, they shouldn’t have to resort to throwing cars off cliffs.

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The thing is that if I had walked out of the film five minutes earlier then I’d have been a lot happier. (That’s clearly not true, I can’t think of anything more frustrating that ceasing to watch a film before the denouement but you’ll see where I’m going with this.) Up until the point where it lost the plot Finding Dory had a lot going for it. The film centres around Ellen DeGeneres’ Blue Tang fish and her mission to find her lost parents. Clown fish single dad Marlin plays second fiddle this time and the shift of focus works. The story is moving and there is a recurring motif involving lines of shells that pays off beautifully. Also, baby Dory (seen in flashback) is the cutest thing I’ve seen since baby Mike Wazowski in Monsters University. Most importantly the film has an incredibly positive portrayal of disability, showing that rather than being less able often those that have such conditions can do things beyond the capabilities of most others. It isn’t just Dory with her memory loss and Nemo with his little fin, there are other creatures with their own individualities. This is the type of characterisation that Pixar have done well in the past and in this respect they have not dropped the ball. It is just a shame that they felt the need to abandon this maturity a little at the end. It has the big themes, it didn’t need the big finish.

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The Ripley Factor:

Speaking of Ripley, Sigourney Weaver actually features in this film in the most delightful way. To say more than that would be a spoiler too far. She is not the lead of course but another female is. Dory continues the recent Disney tradition of having strong female role models at the heart of their films.

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Is this one for the kids?

Don’t believe what it says on IMDb, Finding Dory is a U and not a PG. It does have some very mild peril but actually there is little here to upset small children and providing you don’t have very particular feelings about animals driving large vans in cartoons then there is nothing here to upset adults either.

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