I am a pretty big fan of Pixar. They have a knack for combining good stories with amazing animation. Some of their movies are more kid oriented than others, and “Finding Dory” absolutely falls into that camp. There are none of the gut wrenching scenes from “Up” here, nor is there any real underlying message about our world like in “Wall-E”. Instead we get a kids movie that goes on a little too long, and didn’t quite capture me like a lot of Pixar films. It’s not unpleasant, or bad, but it does almost drift into unnecessary. For those that somehow cannot guess how this movie ends, there are spoilers ahead.
The movie starts with a quick recap of “Finding Nemo”, but quickly gets us up to speed. The movie takes place one year after the prior movies events, but really that doesn’t matter at all. I guess a year in the life of a few fish is largely nondescript. The story starts when Dory quickly realizes she had a family, and decides she needs to go find them. This epiphany is told mostly via flashback of little Dory playing with her parents, and learning to deal with her short term memory loss. Instead of a being a minor part of the first movie, her memory is basically a non-stop plot point. Frankly by the end, I felt like this is what would happen if Memento took place in the ocean.
Once Dory figures out she was born in California she quickly, and I mean very quickly, travels across the ocean. We get to see the surfer turtles from the first movie briefly, which was fun fan service, and before we know it she is going back to Cali (pretty sure all kids movie reviews require LL Cool J references). Once Dory arrives, she finds out she was born in an exhibit of a sea life preserve. I’m not sure why they went this route, but it worked, and there is a pretty funny voice over cameo that I won’t spoil.
The story kinda splits here, one half follows Dory’s adventures with a surly Octopus trying to get to Cleveland (even an invertebrate should know better), and the other half follows Marlin and Nemo trying to find Dory. We get introduced to an odd bird named Becky… mostly funny because it’s my sister’s name, some sea lions, and various other characters.
Thank you Pixar from the bottom of my heart, for naming this bird Becky.
My main issue is that none of these characters are very memorable. They more function as deus ex machina devices to move our characters from one situation to the next. Even Dory’s octopus companion falls a little flat as far as sidekicks go. He just never really made much impact to me. Nothing is wrong with him, and there’s a laugh or two, but he never quite connected. To be honest, I can’t even remember his name.
In the end Dory believes in herself (over and over again… and again… and again… and you get the point), and finds her parents who are overjoyed to see her. Obviously, she remembers something in order to do this, and the reunion is a nice uplifting kid movie moment. This leads into a completely absurd ending sequence involving an octopus stealing a truck, and crashing it back into the ocean complete with Louie Armstrong singing. It works about as well as it reads, and feels like the writers kinda ran out of story to tell.
If it comes off like I am trashing the film, it’s not really my intent. It’s a fun and light romp through a beautifully animated ocean world, but I just hold Pixar to a pretty high standard (Cars franchise excluded, sometimes you just have to sell a billion dollars in merchandise… I get it). Finding Dory just never quite got there for me. My daughter enjoyed it, but I don’t think she was enamored, and even remarked she like Nemo better.
All in all, if you need to occupy the kids for a few hours on a rainy day, by all means go see the movie. You won’t be mad you did. I just don’t really think you’ll be thrilled you did either.
Overall DadLunch Rating: 6.5 out of 10