There was a tale about a father who goes voyaging across the ocean only to find his missing son; that moving tale is sweetly narrated by Pixar into Finding Nemo (2003). It was a story of parental bond, specifically a father-son bond; however, the show-stealer was apparently not the main characters. It was instead a sidekick: an annoying Ellen DeGeneres-voiced blue tang fish which suffers from short-term memory loss. It’s undoubtedly Dory.
Apparently, 13 years have passed since Finding Nemo, but Pixar senior, Andrew Stanton is seemingly has more materials to tell. Taking place on year after the quest for Nemo, Dory suddenly gets a glimpse of childhood memories about her parent. This sudden revelation pushes the forgetful Dory against her limits to another voyage across the ocean. Then it leads to another quest for Marlin (Andrew Brooks), the legendary dad, along with his son, Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolance), to find Dory, who tries so hard finding her parent. It’s a finding-ception after all.
Feel free to accuse Finding Dory as a repetition of Finding Nemo with switched protagonist; yet, rest assured, that familiarity is exactly the key of emotional complexity in this ‘side-quel.’ With familiar story and character, Pixar is able to craft an original emotional drama. Can you sense a positive irony here?
Finding Dory’s one-of-a-kind singularity is Dory. Although we think we know much about her short-term memory loss and her spontaneous what-would-Dory-do acts, we never truly know about Dory; she’s beyond mysterious, she’s enigmatic. Therefore, we are lured into finding about who Dory truly is while witnessing her quest for her parents. Her backstory were dug via a series of flashback which juxtapose with pivotal moments in the movie. Believe it or not, Pixar has surpassed their standard narrative formula with a framed non-linear narrative, that goes slowly forward and quickly backward from several check points.
At some points, the fact that Finding Dory owes much from Finding Nemo is clearly inevitable, especially in conjunction with a wealth of marine life and a roster of likable characters – a cartoonized version of marine life wonders along with the fyi sections. Several Finding Nemo characters make some effective cameo to present a nostalgic sensation. Remember, it’s all merely cameo since the roster of new characters in Finding Dory is perfect additions to make this story alive. While it was a representation of Pacific marine life in the predecessor, now it’s a roster of Californian endemic marine life as the stars.
Dory meets a whole pack of new characters in her personal journey. From a cranky octopus (or call it septopus?) with a dream to go to Cleveland, Hank (Ed O’Neill); a shortsighted whale shark, Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), Dory’s unexpected pipe-pal; also a Beluga whale with a troubled ecolocation ability, Bailey (Ty Burrell). On the other side of water, Marlin and Nemo also meet all the whacky creatures – from two spurring sealions, Fluke and Rudder (Idris Elba and Dominic West) to a quirky bird, Becky.
Interactions between characters with Dory result in most comedy as manifested in absurd dialogues and silly behaviors. The jokes are typical and filled with crunchy puns, which always beat the laugh perfectly. Not only for child audiences, even the simple jokes like the ‘soap and lotion’ or ‘septopus’ or even ‘oo-roo’ would still slay adults as well.
However hilarious it is, Pixar won’t ever leave its monumental ‘emotional drama’ even though Dory’s absurdity has been amplified. Stanton and Victoria Strousse’s script has turned our thought about Dory’s short-term memory loss upside down. While it used to be her most annoying perk which often held up Marlin’s mission to find Nemo; now, it becomes our concerns as we’ve been led to sympathize to her circumstance, which might jeopardize herself along with her mission. With enough emotional kicks along flashbacks, audiences are led to believe that Dory is to meet her family.
All those pieces are assembled together as a top-notch visual spectacle, which proves that Pixar animator team is still top of the class. Photo-realistic animation which manifests the underwater beauty also adorns the out-of-the-water adventure with astonishing details.
Finding Dory doesn’t appear sappy nor tear-jerking like some other Pixar masterpieces; even if tears are dripping, those must be tears of optimism. In the end, Finding Dory has made Pixar’s best spin-off by far; at the same time, it becomes a proof that Finding Nemo is truly one of Pixar’s most memorable works. Similar to Sia’s version of Nat King Cole’s hit, Finding Dory is an ‘Unforgettable’ tale from a forgetful fish.
Finding Dory (2016)
Animation, Adventure, Comedy Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane Written by: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, Bob Peterson Starred by: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill Runtime: 97 mins Rated PG