By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Finding Nemo, “the perfect Pixar film” just don’t impress me much.
“Who?”- actual, legal adults. How’d I get so olddddddd?
I submit that the family themes are poignant, the animation was unimpeachable, and there’s a little bit of humor for everyone to enjoy. However, all of them felt a part of a winning, but still formulaic, formula.
Well, here we are again with Finding Dory, as now it’s time to cross the oceans to find Dory’s parents, who our sufferer of “short-term remembry loss” just now is having memories triggered of. When they get to the California seacoast, they find Dory is actually from an aquarium/ocean conservatory, and they’re going to need the help of a new (and old) crew of friends to get inside and find them.
Hey, guess what? In Finding Dory, the family themes are poignant, the animation was unimpeachable, and there’s a little bit of humor for everyone to enjoy. The heart does work just as it was designed to, and the Disney-brand dark themes do add a bit of dramatic weight, as they have for decades. Humor-wise, anybody who can’t get on board with Becky the Loon or Gerald the Seal hasn’t any traces of a sense of humor left.
Technically speaking, Pixar has been fixated on creating photorealistic backgrounds for the last couple of years, culminating in the incredibly detailed backgrounds of The Good Dinosaur last year and the shoo-in Best Animated Film nominee Sand Piper which is playing before Finding Dory. This film is no slouch in that department, either, with in particular a masterful use of light and the seemingly million different ways it can refract through water. Andrew Stanton reestablishes his bona fides, not that they needed it, with very cinematic “camera movements”. This plays like a live-action film in many ways, and is stronger for it.
As far as the cast goes, Ellen Degeneres and her child-self doppelganger both are fully adorable and not a little heartbreaking at times. There’s plenty of other good voice acting as well, of course, from the always reliable Albert Brooks to show-stealer Ed O’Neil, once more nailing a gruff character with a heart of gold, to, of all things, two sea lions played by a couple of cockney fellows who last teamed up sporting Baltimore accents.
Even Pixar loves The Wire.
The new Disney paradigm seems to be taking the DNA of something that worked well enough for millions to love, and re-engineering a new creature similar enough in form and function to please them in almost exactly the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I like as much as anyone to revisit the things I love, but as a critic, it’s hard to fully respect an effort that is so consciously focused on minimizing risk that it doesn’t try anything new.
What is really new, though, doesn’t work terribly well. The climax in particular goes to Rube Goldbergian lengths to wedge in a crash-bang high-speed car chase of all things. An octopus driving? Sure, I’ll buy it. But how do either the octopus or Dory have any idea what ‘driving’ even is? Did you really need a successful action scene on your resume that bad, Stanton?
Finding Dory remixes the charms of Finding Nemo, but well enough that you won’t care. Predictably, the whole family will love it.
Finding Dory (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime Dory forgets something
Really, that should be it, but…
Take a Drink: every time missing somebody is referenced
Take a Drink: for each new kind of fish you see (speaking roles only)
Take a Two Drinks: if you take a drink for the above and it’s not actually a fish
Do a Shot: for Gerald. He’s just the best.