PIXAR lost another one of their talking fish....Again!WARNING
Before we explore the wonders of the deep, it should be advised that in order to avoid a serious case of "The Bends" you should observe all spoiler alert warnings. For many people who are spoiled on movie plot details apparently act like they did get a case of decompression sickness. (Even though a majority of those people who complain big time about spoilers couldn't fit into an actual wetsuit even if it was tailormade for a walrus.)
And there will be severe warnings about the use of "mentally challenged" in this review. We are going to toss around nasty little buzz words that might offend the mentally challenged and easily distressed. Such words will be handled with care as to not offend anyone....at least not that much.
So spoilers and insensitivities usually prevalent in my reviews aside....lets just keep swimming into this review.FINDING DORY
Remember that Incredibles
sequel you thought you were going to get after having to sit through various levels of PIXAR at their most mediocre? (Like Cars and The Good Dinosaur.)
Well you're not getting it....not yet anyway.
Instead PIXAR remembers how much you loved that "Talking fish movie." Yes; the original 'Finding Nemo.'
Remember how you loved all the characters? Especially Dory!? Don't you remember how funny she was in the first movie with her Short Term Memory Loss?
Yep, in 'Finding Nemo' we all laughed at her mental disability.
.....But here in 'Finding Dory'.....We stopped laughing.
Now we have a movie based entirely around her disability and all the trauma it really has caused. We look deeper into her disturbed psyche as she tries to remember what's really missing in her life and all the distress and heartache it causes her.
So whatever laughter her Short Term Memory Loss brought you in 'Finding Nemo'....it's pretty much gone here in 'Finding Dory.' Here the true depth of her mental disability has become a real killjoy.
And how do you make people sympathize more for a character that suffers from this? Make them obnoxiously cute.
As should have been anticipated, we are treated to an early flashback of Dory as a little guppy growing up with her parents. And with her freakishly big eyes (each larger than her entire head BTW) she warranted a huge number of "Awwwwwwssssss" from the audience. Actually the kids and adult females did this more than anyone else. So it's not only a kid's movie, it's also a kind of a chick movie also. PIXAR once again succeeds in making fish look ridiculously cute and charming. (Unlike Dreamworks which only managed to terrify us with the Will Smith wrasse from Shark Tail.)
Anyways, the sort of prequel to her life aside we cut to the present day where Dory lives now with Marlin and his son Nemo. They're now a family. Only with Dory's mental disability she is definitely not like Marlin's wife. Nor is she like an aunt, cousin or like Nemo's big sister. She's more like the family pet. XD She wanders in and out aimlessly and is constantly being shepherded away from trouble by Marlin like a clueless dog. To make matters worse, she is not only a constant annoyance to Marlin but to other fish as well.
This includes Mr. Ray who is still teaching the little fish the ways of the reef. Much to his chagrin Dory cluelessly steps in as a teacher's aide and behaves the way she does in front of kids. Now in real life non-fish humans who do this and look even less aware and intelligent than the children they teach have a tough life. They can't help being who they are.
When Dory does it, if this was the first movie where we don't know much of her backstory it would be played up for laughs. Here it's actually kind of sad and disturbing even if it still kind of funny. Dory's mental disability goes beyond disorders like ADD or OCD. She's practically suffering from Alzheimer's. Repeating speech patterns more times than Reagan, it's only made more sad due to the fact she isn't very old and still young.
PIXAR is making sure you take this fish with short term memory loss seriously this time. That little quirk is now a serious matter people!! This'll make you think twice about fish who forget things instantly. (So...like most fish then.)
But what really triggers Dory to suddenly remember the family she once had is a migrating school of stingrays all singing like a Soviet era chorus. This triggers her to remember an incident that happened at her home in California. (Where a similarly mentally challenged young human boy also started a quest to go visit Denny the Dinosaur to reconnect with his lost family....seriously, a 'Wizard' reference. XD) So now Dory wants to reconnect and pleas her case before Marlin who will have none of it. Until his son interjects. In this film, Nemo is more the boss here. Yeah it's one thing to be made uncomfortable by Dory's disability in this film. It's another to watch Marlin get undermined by his kid...and not in a Bart Simpson against Homer sort of way.
So with help from Crush the pot smoking sea turtle (Nah.....he's just a surfer hippie...sure XD) Marlin, Dory and Nemo are all whisked away to California to help Dory reconnect with her family. Oh what could possibly go wrong here?
Well not a minute too soon they arrive then a giant bioluiminscent squid attacks them and chases them through a wrecked submerged cargo ship. After this near death experience, Marlin finally blows his his stack and tells Dory off essentially saying something even more hurtful to her than simply flat out calling her a "a retard."
Gee a fish close to Marlin swims off after Marlin scolds them. This looks familiar...up sure enough!! Dory is grabbed by a pair of humans and is then whisked off to the 'Marine Research Center.' Keep in mind that even though PIXAR got help from the world famous Monterrey Bay Aquarium, they don't use their actual name here. This is because in some ways, while the research center is a place full of helpful humans taking care of ocean life...it's also filled with intensely stupid humans, evil little kids, and the PA announcer is Sigourney Weaver. We don't want to put that wonderful place in a bad light now do we?
Dory is now "Tagged" and will be sent off to an aquarium in Cleveland. So the real danger here is continuously being separated from her new family and further apart from her old one. (As well as the possibility of having to live in Cleveland the rest of your life....who seriously wants that? XD.) It looks like she's got no means of escape being A.) shes in a tank and B.) She's Dory. That short term memory loss is going to become a huge detriment to her all by herself. But as luck and movie logic would have it, there is another marine animal nearby who can help her. We now give you one of the new main characters of this film: Hank the octopus.
Hank is a paranoid cephlapod who is a true master of disguise and wants Dory to give him her tag so he can live a life of security and safety in the Cleveland Aquarium. Whatever cause Hank to become so fearful of his original ocean home and wanting to live in captivity the rest of his life?
Well truth be told....we never find out. Yeah the movie never explains why he became so fearful of his undersea home. Maybe the Wiki page explains it....but really people the movie has to explain it!! Which is odd considering he's one of the most prevalent characters in the whole movie. Most of the movie is Hank and Dory traveling together based off a mutual agreement they come to that if Hank helps her find her family, she will give him her tag so he can go to Cleveland.
We don't get to spend as much time with other characters I thought they would spend more time with. In particular, Destiny the Whale Shark. Whale Sharks need more love being the gentle giants of the sea. They're the biggest shark AND fish in the ocean for reals. So making her Dory's childhood friend had some real potential. But we don't see a lot of her here. Nor do we see her neighbor Bailey the Beluga. Both sea creatures also have a type of disability. Destiny is near-sighted and Bailey has head trauma. But sadly it's not like the first movie where we spend time with the other characters like Gill the moorish idol, Bloat the pufferfish or Peach the starfish.
They're cute and all, but it's just another case of PIXAR taking new sea creatures and applying names to them for design's sake.
Doom Doom (Not used)
Another set of characters we didn't spend as much time with are a pair of sea lions named Fluke and Rudder. One of which voiced by Idris Elba!! Yeah, Chief Bogo/Shere Khan is now a lazy sea lion. (Kind of a depiction of how Idris is hanging around Disney collecting checks to do voice work.) He and Rudder give another sea lion a real hard time at the rehabilitation center. This other sea lion is Gerald, who second only to Chumley the walrus from the old Underdog cartoons is one of the most braindead pinnipeds in cartoon history. Dory may be mentally challenged....but Gerald is just simply all-out "not there." Know how they made that recent announcement at E3 about Crash 1-3 being remade? Yeah well....Gerald looks a lot like Fake Crash.
And Fluke and Rudder definitely give him shit for being who he is. XD I kind of wish we spent more time with this trio.
See what I mean about introducing new characters we don't see that much of in the film like we want to?
I mean Hank the octopus I talked about earlier is visually great. How he blends in with his surroundings like all octopi do is done creatively and not far from the truth on how an octopus can cleverly disguise itself. But when he talks to Dory....it's just like having Marlin talking to her. Not only does he act like Marlin does around meeting her the first time, but he literally sounds like Marlin. Sure Albert Brooks returns doing only Marlin. But Hank's voice actor is Ed O' Neill. You think they'd give him a little more variety so as not to have him sound almost exactly like Marlin.
Speaking of which, Marlins side of things are underscored by Dory's adventures with Hank. He is meanwhile at the mercy of a mentally challenged bird named Becky. (This is the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest of talking animal movies.) You know while the movie does its job to make you feel for Dory's condition, it still uses the condition of the other disabled minor characters for laughs. I mean what's their backstory? Did poor Gerald get hit in the back of the head with a boat propeller? Did Becky get her neck tangle in soda can rings and a lack of oxygen made her lose brain cells? Well whatever....one important aspect these minor characters to be played up for effect is they cant talk.
So remember....as long as they can't talk or show actual emotions....then its OK to laugh at their disabilities. ;D
Same with the sea otters; some of Monterrey's most famous residents. They don't talk but just stand there and look cute. And they don't feature much in the movie either. Well....maybe it's best they didn't talk. It would probably be another case of the cute looking animal suddenly coming out all tough and gangster with an angry black man's voice. Nah....save that bullshit for 'Secret Life of Pets.'
I must say that all the appeal and enjoyment I had from the original 'Finding Nemo' is still here in its sequel. But in terms of the new characters I'm just not feeling it. Virtually all the new characters Marlin, Dory and Nemo ran into the first movie had their screen time to get us to know and love them. Here we see a near sighted whale shark who sounds average, a 'fluid headed' Beluga whale, and a couple of tempermental sea lions. They still have cute quirks to them but they're not as memorable as I hoped they would be. Even Hank with his unique trait of camouflage doesn't come off as extraordinary. I guess in the original 'Finding Nemo' they were more adept at making each character identifiable with their own unique speech pattern and quirk. Here Hank sounds Marlin (as I mentioned) and even Destiny kind of sounds Dory. They all kind of sound the same.
Much like how this movie brought back elements from the first one, and make this film about the same only instead of Nemo it's Dory who got lost.
Another thing they brought back from the original movie was showing us how evil kids are. Remember Darla from the original, that little brace-faced demon brat? Well all the kids at the 'Touch Pool' are basically her multiplied into equally destructive invasive little implings. They harass creatures that normally wouldn't have characteristics let alone eyeballs. Like sea cucumbers. Yep apparently even something that looks like someone laid a huge turd on the ocean floor can have feelings. And all the tidal creatures being imprinted upon by these little kids are terrified beyond belief of them. So even though this movie is for kids; it's not above telling kids what little bastards they can be.
Even more odd is how they portray the human adults. Now in the original the human adults are kind of careless and clueless, but they all seem to interact with the creatures as most humans would and seem to have some reasonable amount of intelligence. Here, humans are complete morons. I can understand if the animals they observe don't seem to be speaking plain English to them as only the animals themselves can understand it. But there's an instance in this movie where Dory and Hank are driving a stolen stroller by themselves to get around the park. And people don't even notice this as they just casually try and get by them. There is nothing covert about a stroller being able to push itself with other humans walking around it.
These humans act even dumber than the ones in Madagascar films. XD
The thing I find most depressing and underwhelming about this film (other than basically being the first one with the central character being Dory) is how all those quirks about Dory we knew and love from the original are now taken too seriously. At first it's kind of nice since it means we shouldn't thrust people aside just because they're different and they do have something to say and be of use despite their handicap. But then at the end of the movie....it becomes apparent that Dory kind of lost her handicap. And even within that instance, she's still a menace to herself and others.
Because she does eventually find her family. PIXAR did good to avoid the pitfall of the 'Your parents are dead" trope that are meant to pull at many a heart string. They are indeed a live, and glad to see their baby alive. But Dory's still gotta save her other family Marlin and Nemo. And if you're someone like Dory with two different families, life is one big massive challenge. It gets particularly distressing when we see Dory go into panic mode when she tries desperately to remember important details.
So maybe there didn't need to be a film about going too deep into Dory's psyche. But fortunately that doesn't mean it's outright terrible. If anything, this film is...good. Not great like PIXAR's infamous track record of greatness....but good. There's still plenty to enjoy from this.
And yet Dory herself being a constant menace to herself and others does make you feel a bit uncomfortable. To think you used to laugh at her quirk. Now her quirk not only gets her two families in trouble; but humans as well. For in the film's climax, she and Hank hijack a truck (what the Hell....?) full of fish going to Cleveland and drive it head on into San Francisco traffic. So now she's endangering human lives. It's no wonder the movie made humans so stupid....so you wouldn't care if Dory accidentally killed a few of them while she tries to direct Hank.
Dory and Hank eventually careen the moving vehicle into the sea where a slo-mo 'Quicksilver type' scene with familiar music playing happens. If this involved any of the characters like I saw from the original Finding Nemo I might find it funny. But the truth is these newer characters aren't as memorable like I hoped so its appeal isn't as lasting. But at least Dory is reunited with both her families....and its ok to laugh at her disability again. ;D
The thing about this film is that as it progresses, its a retread of the original. That's not necessarily bad.....if it had a more memorable cast of new characters. They spent too much time on Hank who was fine as a character...and not enough with the other ones who had some interesting quirks to them. Like Bailey whose eco-location makes him practically psychic to a point where its use in the film is borderline pure absurdity. Given the layout of the institution they were at I can understand why it would be hard for them to interact. But their voices dont make them stand out as much.
The film is indeed a retread of the original Finding Nemo. It's definitely not bad and still enjoyable. I just think its too formulaic and doesnt present as many memorable new characters. Kids and adults will still love it. But for average movie goers like me who watch it solo looking for another unique PIXAR experience, we could've gotten more. As more as a PIXAR sequel that isn't Toy Story could be anyway.
It should probably end here. There shouldn't really be anymore 'Finding-WhoevertheF**k' movies. Let's get that Incredibles sequel started people!!
so what did I do after watching a movie about talking fish with human emotions and feelings? I went and ate sushi. I mean, it's not like any of the sushi I ate there was a member of the movie's cast or something like....(looks down at my octopus sushi)...oh no!! Hank!? Hank!!! Haaaaannnnnnnkkkkkkk!!!!