FINDING DORY REVIEWED
“Finding Dory” felt more like a sitcom spin-off than the follow-up to 2003’s “Finding Nemo”. While some have claimed a creative misfire on par with “Cars 2”, it’s not that serious. What we have is stretching 30 minutes of content to fit a feature. How many in the audience needed to explore Dory’s origins and learn the truth behind every personality quirk? Why did I keep thinking about the “Piper” short throughout the duration of the main feature. These questions stayed with me and I don’t believe that’s a good thing.
Dory’s quest to find her parents, her home and a sense of purpose were fine. It’s just that they were fulfilled in a manner best fitting a video game rather than a film. Hopping from fish tank to fish tank like a level select screen got old. Andrew Stanton and his co-director even utilized Ed O’ Neill’s octopus character to help make these transitions smoother. When that didn’t work, the film remembered that Nemo and Marlin were still around to pad out the laughs. Albert Brooks is a comedy icon and a treasure to American entertainment. His ability to save anything with his presence will be sorely missed when he passes. Hopefully, that’s not for another few decades.
The problem with sidekicks is that they were never meant to be leads. Dory’s parents, her friends and the new locale serves as nothing more than a reminder of what Dory could’ve been. But, the could haves of this world don’t matter to an audience that met Dory as the forgetful fish that we love. Reframing animation with new information doesn’t serve features as well as it does long form entertainment. The world had 13 years to accept a version of Dory, Nemo and Marlin’s world and that satisfied their desires. Art isn’t a democracy and Pixar is free to do what they want. But, movies are show business.
If you’re going to take another trip back to the well, then the audiences have to have a reason to make that trip. Shoehorning in touchstones and blandly introducing new characters to serve a monotonous quest isn’t entertaining. The film succeeds based on our established love for the characters. As a feature, “Finding Dory” falls so hard on its face that I’m starting to wonder about the future of the studio. The talent shift that lead all of the major projects to Walt Disney Studios and out of the digital realm of Pixar is stunning. Hopefully, Pixar can turn it around. Between “The Good Dinosaur” and “Finding Dory”, I’m incredibly underwhelmed.
- 97 mins