June 20, 2016
"Finding Nemo" (2003) was one of my top three favorite Pixar films. It was a tale of dedicated fatherhood following the harrowing adventures of an overprotective clownfish named Marlin who swam all the way from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney to recover his only son Nemo. One of my favorite characters of that film was Dory, a sprightly Blue Tang with short-term memory loss, Marlin's unlikely ally in his quest. Now 13 years later, a sequel was released with Dory as the central character, and I was excited to see it.
Dory begins to have fragments of vague memories from her childhood and she longed to look for her parents back in California. Marlin and Nemo sought the help of Crush and the sea turtles to bring them there. However, they lose each other and Dory finds herself caught by volunteers from the Marine Life Institute. With the help of her new friends she meets inside, namely Hank the cantankerous Octopus, Destiny the myopic baby Whale Shark and Bailey, the insecure Beluga, Dory tries to piece together the pieces of the puzzle as she persists in her seemingly impossible quest.
From the first film to this sequel, the voice work of Ellen Degeneres remained to be so memorable with its innocent energy. It was also just as touching in the emotional scenes. Those perfectly-written lines as Dory dropped in and out of memories were given life with such verve and pathos by Degeneres. This poor friendly creature was suffering from an unenviable condition which robbed her of her memories just as soon as they are formed, and her voice just makes me want to reach out to help her. The effect of her voice is just emotionally electric for me.
I think one important message the film is for the youth to develop compassion for people with disabilities, like most of the flawed characters in this film. The treatment of the various disabilities in this film tended to tread a fine line between depiction and parody. This may be misconstrued by some kids as making fun of them, so parental guidance is important here.
The film also took a stab at the marine institutions and marine parks, and how these places may be actually be hurting the very creatures they were supposed to help. This is a mature topic which may disturb young kids. Kids were even shown as the "bad guys" in the hands-on Touch Pool exhibit scenes, so kids in the audience may get confused, again requiring parental guidance. Marine pollution was also addressed in some distressing scenes. I hope these serious messages sink in with the young audiences.
I felt there were too many scenes in murky waters which I guess were there to represent how Dory was completely in the dark about what she was doing most of the time. However, these scenes were not too engaging to watch. When I watched this in 3D, the glasses made the dim screen look even duller which did not help those scenes.
The scenes with the misleading concepts of echolocation, and about the truck being driven by a most unlikely driver did not sit too well with me. I know this is an animated feature which meant that anything the writers think of can go. However, for me this one was a major out-of-this-world leap of imagination that I did not like. This is not to say though that those scenes could not be exciting and cute at the same time.
While "Finding Dory" is an excellent film on its own, for me it does not exactly reach the high standard set by "Finding Nemo" overall, though not by much. I rate "Finding Nemo" as solid 10/10. "Finding Dory" is a 9/10.