Finding Dory (2016)

casey We finally got around to seeing Finding Dory on Netflix, and it feels a little strange to say, given its pedigree, that it’s not close to being one of the 2016’s most interesting animated movies. Which, honestly, speaks more to the quality of the competition, because Finding Dory is still pretty good.

brooke Yeah, going up against Moana, Kubo, and Zootopia in the same year was no small feat, but this one is sweet and simple.

casey It’s got the usual More! and Bigger! sequel trappings, including a freakin’ car chase, but Finding Dory also has some emotional payoffs that rival its predecessor’s and it builds an interesting, cohesive story around a character I wouldn’t have thought was capable of carrying it.

brooke So Finding Dory is the sequel to Finding Nemo and goes into Dory’s origin story. After having lived with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolance) for a year and working on her short-term memory loss, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) starts having flashbacks from her youth, and of her parents. Based on clues from her memory, the trio set off across the ocean yet again, eventually winding up outside an aquarium in Southern California being greeted by a recording of Sigourney Weaver (which is one of the best recurring jokes in the movie). Dory is separated from her friends trying to get inside, but manages to get assistance from a cranky octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill). Meanwhile, her flashbacks become more frequent–and heart-wrenching–as she works through the aquarium trying to find where her parents once lived.

casey Is it sort of weird that with a literal ocean of possibilities to choose from, Finding Dory spends even more time in human settings than Nemo did?

brooke Well, I thought taking Dory’s story to an open-air aquarium was a way to bring in interesting characters who don’t necessarily come from the same parts of the ocean, and who have their own disabilities and neuroses to overcome, which is a theme the series has returned to a lot. I especially like the beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), who thinks his echolocation is permanently broken after a concussion, and the near-sighted whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson).
I also think Pixar used the limited space to impose a sense of urgency on the plot, especially because a “let’s go find Dory’s parents somewhere in the ocean” story could have taken years to complete.

casey And probably been much more sad. Anyway, Dory is more manic and zany than its predecessor, and not quite as good, but it also manages to build Dory into a fully realized, deeply sympathetic, and strong character, with the drive to press forward and accomplish her goals in spite of her limitations. It’s sort of like Memento, but with fish and less killing.

brooke Really, Finding Dory is just a sweet follow-up to Finding Nemo. It does some good leg work in teaching coping strategies and I think its manic elements are a storytelling strength. It even manages to squeeze in a lot of facts about fish! Thanks, Sigourney Weaver.

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