Click here to see how this ranks up with the rest of Pixar's films.
Click here to read my autism lesson on this movie.
It all appropriately starts with Dory as a cute little tyke being taught by her parents how to explain her short-term memory loss to others. Then this touching opening turns immediately devastating as she wonders if she would ever forget her parents. Mom and pop simply affirm to her: follow the shells to find her way home. Then suddenly, she unexplainably appears in the middle of a dark kelp forest, separated from her parents. What happened to them? Where are they? How can she find her way home?
It would be easy, except she doesn’t remember.
Now little Dory has nothing to do other than wander the ocean asking random fish where her mommy and daddy are. Yes, only five minutes in and it’s already the second most devastating way to start a family movie (number one being Up). Eventually, she forgets what she’s even searching for, left only to wander the ocean for the rest of her life, questioning her own existence. Here is where Marlin comes in.
One year later, she’s living in a coral bed across Marlin and Nemo’s anemone. Life seems just fine, until a freak accident causes her to remember something: her parents are in California! Thus, she talks Marlin and Nemo into going with her across the ocean to find her parents. Once a traumatizing giant squid attack follows after a trip through the East Australian Current, Dory gets separated from her clown fish friends, ending up in the Marine Life Institute, quarantined and tagged for shipment to the Cleveland aquarium. Yet she’ll stop at nothing to find her family!
Yes, it is unbelievably tragic to see how her short-term memory loss got her into such a bad place; it makes her character in Finding Nemo so much deeper, accomplishing exactly what any sequel should accomplish. But she thankfully has some friends to help her along the way. There’s Hank the cranky septopus, whose slippery tentacle movements create some phenomenal visual gags with his camouflage ability. There’s Destiny the ditsy whale shark, who can’t stop running her head into things (probably not necessary). There’s Bailey the beluga whale, who adds some fantastic comedic material with his whale shark friend. There’s Becky the silent loon, who pecks at anything that moves. There are Rudder and Fluke, the lazy sea lions who are relatively weak in spite of some definite hard-hitting laughs. There are the irresistibly cute otters who you just want to cuddle with. Then there are Dory’s loving parents, who undeniably care for their little girl.
Along with the memorable new characters and intense emotion, the world’s setup also adds tremendous influence on Dory’s journey of literal self-discovery, however scientifically inaccurate it may be, even by Pixar standards. While it’s not in the ocean, it’s for the majority of the part in the amusement park reminiscing Sea World. The film’s director Andrew Stanton has stated that Finding Dory features a new upgrade from their usual RenderMan system, allowing the animators to craft indirect light. Now let me tell you something: it pays off—each individual location has its own set of colors and textures to brim its own unique feel, making you feel like you’re there. It’s incredible to see how the barnacles and kelp decorate the environment, as well as how the soft, vivid memories of Dory are rendered as they come back to her. The aquarium’s brilliant blue fish tank looks the most visually satisfying of all the set pieces, all even more of an immersive delight in 3D. It almost seems like computer animation exists specifically for underwater animation.
In the end, the stunning animation adds so much power into Dory’s discovery of her past. It’s all a matter of asking, “What would Dory do?” I felt surprisingly empowered while seeing a seemingly hopeless fish like Dory resolved a major issue independently by learning the way around her disability. While there are plenty of red flags in various characters to contradict that very message, the mentally disabled can learn quite a bit from Finding Dory.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Disney-Pixar. "'Baby Dory' clip- Finding Dory.” Digital image. YouTube. 20 Jun 2016. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3kIpCzLzEo>.
EXCLUSIVE: Interview with FINDING DORY Director Andrew Stanton on Diving Into Pixar's Big Sequel. Everything Pixar. The Walt Disney Company, 1 Mar 2016. Web. <http://www.everythingpixar.com/home/exclusive-interview-with-finding-dory-director-andrew-stanton-on-diving-into-pixars-big-sequel>.
Finding Dory. Disney. Web. <http://movies.disney.com/finding-dory>.
Weintraub, Steve. Pixar CTO Steve May on ‘Finding Dory’ and the New RenderMan Software. Collider. Complex Media Inc., 1 June 2016. Web. <http://collider.com/steve-may-finding-dory-renderman-pixar-interview/>.