“Finding Dory” Is A Good Sequel To A Great Movie; “Piper” Short One Of Pixar’s Best
Can you believe it’s been 13 years since Finding Nemo was released? And I thought Alice Through The Looking Glass was a long time to wait for a sequel…
When last we saw Nemo, Marlin and Dory, everyone was happy. Marlin learned to have faith in his son’s judgment and that his son no longer needed his constant protection. Nemo was given the freedom to do things on his own and it created a better bind between father and son. Dory was accepted as a new member of Marlin and Nemo’s family and it was nice to know that she actually was part of a family when previously she just kept swimming aimlessly having no real attachments. Basically it was your definition of a happy ending.
When Finding Dory was first announced I was concerned because I felt, “Does this movie really need a sequel?” The original ended perfectly. Why mess with perfection? I was also tired of Pixar going sequel crazy and not coming up with original animated features, which long ago they were known for. It brought back painful memories of Cars 2. I was not a huge fan of Cars, but the sequel really made things worse for the franchise. In Cars 2, Pixar had a supporting character become the lead in the sequel, and that really ruined the movie. Mater was a clueless, naïve character that was tolerable in the original movie in small doses, but once he became the lead in the sequel, he quickly became annoying because he was always meant to be just comic relief. I was afraid that Pixar did not learn from it’s mistakes and we were going to see history repeat itself.
The good news is that after seeing Finding Dory I did not feel the same way as I did about Cars 2. It’s a good movie, well written and a fun story. The only thing I would say is that I still feel a sequel to Finding Dory was never really needed, but it does nothing to harm the original and Finding Dory itself can stand on it’s own as a good Pixar movie. I would say it is not in the league of Toy Story, Monsters Inc or The Incredibles, but it’s not at the bottom of the list either. It’s somewhere in the middle.
As traditional with Pixar films, we are first treated to their newest animation short, Piper. Piper is a beautifully animated film and in my opinion even more so than Finding Dory itself. Piper is a young sandpiper that struggles trying to overcome his fears of the big world ahead of him. It’s nice to see a movie with talking animals but sometimes it’s even nicer seeing animals being able to communicate to us without words and that is what Piper does as we witness his world from his point of view. Piper does an excellent job of conveying the story with just expressions and emotion and the short is very reminiscent of the best classic silent movies. Hopefully we will get to see more of Piper in the future. I really think that the next Piper could progress to a full featured animated film. Finding Dory may not be ranked at the top of Pixar’s movies but when it comes to it’s short films, Piper definitely is up there.
Finding Dory begins shortly after Finding Nemo where we find Dory(Ellen Degeneres) now living next-door to Marlin(Albert Brooks), Nemo(Hayden Rolence) in the coral reef. Certain words and objects activate memories for Dory of her past that include the memory of her parents (Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton). Remembering that she had loving parents makes Dory journey to find them. Marlin and Nemo join Dory on her quest along with some old familiar characters and some new favorites. Does Dory find her parents? Do we have another happy ending? You’ll have to see the movie yourself to find out.
I’ll get into the good first. Find Dory is not a rehash of the original’s story. It’s a smartly written original story. It can have it’s emotionally sad moments at times, but it focuses more on it’s comedy. Even though the movie is called Finding Dory, Dory is never really lost and I would say a more appropriate title would be Finding Dory’s Parents. For the most part, the original voice cast returns and performs another excellent job.
The movie is a definite upgrade, animation quality wise, from the original. The original was beautiful, but it’s like the animators learned how to fine tune the underwater world to make it even more visually striking. Certain things that I noticed this time around were the reflections of the fish as they came closer to the surface. It looks more realistic and really glad that they found the time to focus on such detail.
The humor is even better than the first. Some of the new characters are very funny, especially the sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominick West) and Becky, the whacky loon. Hank (Ed O’Neil), the octopus that we have seen in trailers, is a real visual treat. I doubt Pixar could have accomplished such a technological marvel in the original, but due to the advancements in CGI animation, Hank movies all of his appendages very realistically and cleverly blends into certain objects with the use of his camouflage-like abilities.
OK, so here is the bad. I felt the movie becomes overly complicated at times. I kept thinking, “How is a kid able to follow this story?” I just think they could have cut some of the scenes out and made it a little more direct. It seems a little bit like Mission Impossible where Dory has to do several things in specific order to get to a location she believes that is where her parents are. Then when she does get there, it’s the wrong place but there are clues to where the right place could be.
Another thing is Dory’s forgetfulness. One of the first scenes has Dory awakening from her sleep going into Marlin and Nemo’s home, the anemone, and being shocked over and over again and repeating the process due to her forgetfulness. It could have been three times, could have been four, but it stopped being funny after two. You meet baby Dori, who is really cute, but just as forgetful as Dory. We get several long conversations with Dory and another character and then Dory is distracted, turns around and says to the character, “Hi. I’m Dory”. It happened a few times in the first part of the movie and I was afraid that this joke was going to be constantly used throughout the film. Fortunately, as the movie progressed, so did Dory’s memory.
We also meet two new characters, Destiny the whale shark (Katlin Olson) and Bailey, a beluga whale (Ty Burel). They looked nice and will sell a lot of merchandise but I honestly think they weren’t needed and didn’t add anything to the plot. I felt that they could have been cut out all together and made the movie tighter. The great composer Thomas Newman returns for the musical score but it lacks the emotional weight and memorable pieces from the original.
The bottom line is Finding Dory is a fun movie that both adults and children can enjoy, just don’t expect it to be better than the first.
I give Finding Dory 3.5 out of 5 stars. Would have been a 3, but Piper is that good.