Sometimes I hate it when I know my opinion is probably going to go against popular opinion but hear me out on Finding Dory before clicking away completely.
Let me start by saying that I am a card-carrying fan of Finding Nemo.
No, seriously. I have a Chase Disney Visa card and it has a scene on it from Finding Nemo. It’s definitely a conversation starter any time I use my card (which happens to be a lot).
It was a sweet, innocent Pixar film released in 2003 with so much to love. And it had such an impact when it was released in that children everywhere are growing up actually thinking that a clownfish is actually a Nemo fish.
But my young son is growing up quickly and at 9 1/2 years old, I wasn’t sure if he’d be interested in seeing such a “kids’ movie.” So I gave him the choice. He definitely wanted to go see it so off we went for a movie preview.
I’ll admit that I had high hopes and one of those hopes was that my son wouldn’t be disappointed. And luckily, he wasn’t. Soon after the show started, he leaned over to me and whispered, this movie is awesome! And at the end of the movie, he exclaimed that he absolutely loved it. The only other piece of information that I could get out of him was that Hank, the octopus, was his favorite character – something I expect a lot of kids to be saying.
I still don’t know if he loved it as a standalone movie or if he loved it because he’s actually old enough to feel a sense of nostalgia toward the movie characters. That’s at least what I was feeling.
Unfortunately, it didn’t float my boat and there are a few reasons why.
- The story didn’t feel terribly original. Yes, it’s a sequel and yes, the focus is on Dory. But there were elements that felt like a repeat of the first movie. I won’t give them away but I’d love to know if you feel the same.
- Some of the characters felt like caricatures. Dory, who seemed like a repeating gag in the first movie, actually had emotions and depth. She is the true star, as the movie name implies. But Nemo and Marlin are unfortunately reduced to minor characters with their relationship simply an exaggerated version of the original movie. Bailey the Beluga Whale and Destiny the Whale Shark are characters that seem simplistic and lacking any of the cleverness of typical Pixar characters.
- While I love me a good octopus (and they made a good octopus with Hank), there were elements of his octopus abilities that reminded me of Dave, the bad guy octopus from Penguins of Madagascar. I realize that there are only so many ways to make an octopus cool but I couldn’t help but compare the two.
- When you look at the progress made in terms of computer animation from the first Pixar film, Toy Story (1995), to the most recent, The Good Dinosaur (2015), it is amazing at the realism they can bring to an animated feature. While I didn’t love The Good Dinosaur, I was in love with the scenery and effects. But just because Pixar can use realistic animation, should they? It just didn’t feel right to see the glassiness of Dory’s eyes or the constant worry lines on Marlin’s head. I honestly wanted it to feel more like the 2003 film.
Bottom line: I wanted to feel some of the innocence and originality of the first movie and, for me, this one just didn’t bring it. However, my son, who immerses himself in Xbox and YouTube, absolutely loved it. It reminded me (and maybe him) that he’s still a little boy and that’s way more important than any of my own opinions.
One more thing…
Whether you want to see Finding Dory or don’t, it’s completely worth it for the little short at the beginning of the film, Piper. My heart still feels warm from watching it!