I have always been a movie buff. And being a movie buff, I love to talk about movies–not only my general likes and dislikes of the films I see, but I like to dissect them, looking at the different layers and try to really understand the story and character decisions. Whenever I go see a movie, what I look forward to the most is discussing them afterward with friends and family.
I have to admit, “Finding Dory” has been one of the toughest movies ever for me to review.
“Finding Nemo” is one of my absolute Pixar films, and with having a thirteen year lapse between the first and the sequel, I had no idea what to expect. Off the bat, I realized the story couldn’t be predictable, because if it was an easy story to think up, it would have been made years sooner. Realizing this, I set some pretty high expectations, wanting a story that was intricate, unexpected, yet still seemed to fit naturally with the film’s established characters and settings. I was afraid that my excitement mixed with my expectations would set me up to not feel satisfied with the film.
The sequel picks up a year after “Finding Nemo” takes place, with Dory having the revelation that she has a family somewhere. The only problem is Dory doesn’t remember where they are. Because of Dory’s short term memory loss, she needs Marlin to help her on her journey, to assure she doesn’t get lost in the big blue. Throughout the film, she continues to have snippets of memories that reveal more about her storied past, all the while making new friends, taking risks, and breaking out of her comfort zone.
I was able to have the pleasure of seeing an early screening of “Finding Dory” at the Walt Disney Studio Lot in Burbank about a week ago, and having had several days to process the film, I still haven’t been able to stop talking about it each day, and has been on the forefront of my mind. It was definitely unforgettable.
The reason why this film has proved difficult for me to review, is because it is hard to put “Finding Dory” into words. The story was beyond what I expected, and had many signature Pixar moments of tear-jerking emotion. But unlike the format of many Pixar films where the movie opens with emotion, climaxes with adventure, and ends with happily ever after, this film toggled between all three of these things.
With Dory having short term memory loss, and is in general a very optimistic fish, she bounces back fairly quickly from a negative emotion or event. The audience is taken on a roller coaster of emotions, which really works to reveal the layers of Dory’s character that we never even knew we were there. The story is told in a way that we experience Dory’s life in the same fun, chaotic, and sometimes uncomfortable way she lives moment-to-moment.
A movie centered around the happy-go-lucky Dory could have easily been a slapstick, goofy adventure. It was shocking yet refreshing to see Pixar make bold moves by really dissecting every aspect about Dory, and learning more about this character than meets the surface. It’s overall message will really resonate with all of us, and our internal struggles and emotions we often push aside and don’t tackle head on in our own lives.
Where many films are either on opposite ends of the spectrum, being low in stakes and light in the storytelling and character development, or drawing on a plot too long or in too much serious, this film somehow finds the perfect balance. This is very telling of the level of story telling at Pixar studios, and how their films aren’t just “cartoons” but cinematic films that hold their own. They accomplished the perfect balance of fun, emotion, character development, adventure, and telling a story relevant to our modern time.
Although emotionally deep, kids will be able to grasp the general concept of everything going on, so I would say any age could go see it. With all honesty, this has quickly become my all-time favorite Pixar film, and I can’t recommend it enough to go see.
“Finding Dory” will be released nationwide June 17th.