Finding Dory – TEG Movie Reviews

{Warning; This review may contain spoilers to Finding Dory}

This week there was a theatre full of children with their parents/grandparents ready to watch Finding Dory, the long awaited follow up to Pixar’s 2003 classic Finding Nemo… and then there was me and my girlfriend, two young adults sticking out like a sore thumb for some reason? We didn’t care. Now to be honest, I was rather surprised that us two seemed to be the only ones there from our age demographic because after all, who doesn’t love a good ol’ nostalgia trip back to the simpler times of our childhood?

Before I begin reviewing Finding Dory I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Pixar’s short film that was shown beforehand: “Piper”.

“Piper” is a story that follows a little sandpiper bird’s journey into independence and self efficiency from childhood – concentrating on the bridge between leaving the care of your parents to go out on your own two feet and survive, a story that is very relatable to me and many others who are about to leave home for University or the work world. We are blessed with an absolutely gorgeous animation style as the story teaches us all about the importance of independence, not being afraid to fail and try again on your own, even though the love and support of your family will always be near by. It’s cute, it’s heartwarming and set you up ready for the main film ahead. Kudos to that animation team!

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Piper is a gorgeous short film that quickly teaches it’s audience a heartwarming life lesson.

Now to the main event, did Finding Dory live up to expectation or is it a stain on a classic from an entire generation’s childhood? I can happily say it is not the latter.

Now Pixar have always had a pretty good track record for films (let’s ignore Cars 2) and have always set the standard when it comes to animation. Nothing changes in Finding Dory as the animation is beautiful, clean and really uses a set of good, varied colour palettes to really absorb you into these different environments, despite most of it being set underwater.

Despite being released 13 years after Finding Nemo, the film is actually set just one year after the events of the first film and pursues Dory’s backstory and her journey to rediscover the family she lost years earlier. It goes after your heartstrings straight from the get-go and continues to constantly pursue a tear or two throughout, but Pixar manage to do this whilst also keeping the film consistently funny and that’s the beauty of their films. They juggle your emotions so your laughter can be halted by a loss that makes you cry before the characters on screen share a moment that can warm your heart for a lifetime. It’s a rare thing…

I was pleasantly surprised by the new characters introduced onto this new adventure – including some such as; Hank, an Octopus who lost one of his arms to a child years before (so is now a Septopus), Destiny, a near sighted whale shark who taught Dory how to speak whale (legendary for that trait alone) and Bailey, a melodramatic beluga whale who is convinced his biological echolocation skills just don’t work.

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Ty Burrell’s Bailey proved to be a welcome addition to the Pixar universe.

All the characters add their own chemistry, personalities and comedy to the story and I found myself especially laughing at Ty Burrell’s Bailey into the final act of the film. As well as their likable traits, it’s these characters weaknesses and fears that also add to you warming towards them. Pixar doesn’t shy away from deeper topics, from Dory’s short term memory loss to how they touch upon the fact that Hank suffers from PTSD after his clash with a child years earlier, which is a rather surprising element to include in a children’s film.

One thing that a lot scriptwriters do that can ruin a film is always writing the characters an easy way around a conflict, never have them face any significant challenges and therefore make the story a lot less entertaining for the audience. The writers for Finding Dory were not afraid to challenge it’s characters, every single time you think something is finally going to go their way something almost directly opposite happens and as a result, the story kept me pretty interested throughout it’s entirety.

Although I do tip my hat at its writers for not being scared to challenge our favourite animated fish, this also contributed to one of my few criticisms of the movie. Whilst adventurous like it’s predecessor, Finding Dory’s ever evolving adventure sometimes got to a point where I felt pulled out of the story and didn’t care as much as I did during Finding Nemo. Now, I do understand that this is a Pixar film about talking fish, it’s allowed to “out there” obviously however Finding Nemo managed to be this great, daunting adventure across the deep blue whilst feeling kind of grounded and it made you worry a little bit more about it’s characters. I personally felt that this film lost a little bit of that magic and it became so “out there” that I got drawn out of the story and knew that the characters would turn out okay.

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Both baby Dory and her older self (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) won everyone’s hearts.

The story of how Dory lost her family and came across Marlin and Nemo is told through a series of flashbacks. I don’t personally mind flashbacks in stories however I did begin to feel a bit tired of the amount of flashbacks Dory was getting throughout the film, especially during the final half of the film when the main story is focused on the here and now. They could’ve worked to fit more information into less, as they did begin to take away from the film by the end. My last slight complaint with this film was the jokes about Dory’s short term memory loss, I just found there to be an occasional  oversaturation of unfunny memory jokes at times throughout, however it may be argued that the irritating feeling was intentional by the filmmaker as that was what the characters interacting with Dory were feeling about her condition.

Overall, Finding Dory was a genuinely fun film to watch. It did a good job at not staining its beloved predecessor, appeals to a massive age demographic and sends out strong and positive messages about family and self acceptance. Judging on my girlfriend’s reaction to the majority of the film too, I think it’s safe to say that baby Dory more than qualifies as “cute”. I’m rating Finding Dory:

7.5 out of 10!

Go support the film by going to see it in the cinema and casting your own decisions on it. If you’ve already seen it, what did you think? Let me know.

Thomas E. Griffiths

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