Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Finding Dory

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, just some random ramblings about one of the movies I own.  This time out, I'm rambling about Finding Dory.  I originally jotted these ramblings in my notes on November 20, 2016.

Did the world really need a sequel to Finding Nemo?  Was everything not resolved once Nemo was found?  Why did this film need to be made, aside from making money for Disney/Pixar?  Is the main rumour true, that Ellen DeGeneres just really wanted to do it and kept pressuring Pixar to do it?  Is it like with Kevin Smith and Clerks 2, and the failure of director Andrew Stanton's pet project of an adaptation of John Carter scare him back to the well? 

But still, it's amazing what you can spin out of one strand.  They say the entire inspiration for this film came from Dory's one line in the first film:  "I suffer from short term memory loss.  It runs in my family.  At least, I think it does.  Where are they?"  And from that one line, we get Dory's quest to finally find her long lost parents. 

As the title card tells us, the film starts one year after the events of Finding Nemo.  Dory has been lovingly adopted by Marlin and Nemo and lives next door.  But then, while accompanying Nemo on a field trip one day, Mr. Ray says some trigger words which causes Dory to have flashes of memory...of her parents.  With what little Dory can remember, our heroic trio is soon off on another adventure across the sea, taking them to the Marine Life Institute, an aquarium with a large dedication to marine life rescue.  And here, Dory meets all kinds of new friends to help her on her quest, like Destiny, the nearsighted whale shark, Baily, the neurotic beluga whale, and Dory's main sidekick Hank, on octopus missing a tentacle (making him a septapus) who does not want to be returned to the ocean, and instead prefers the life of luxury in captivity. 

This film, well, it seems a little strange to me.  Thomas Newman returns to score, and his music is so...melancholic.  And they work so hard to try to match up story beats with the first film that the whole thing does start feeling formulaic.

That being said, Pixar can still deliver the emotional wallop when Dory finally finds her parents.  They do do a fake-out where they make you think her parents are dead, and I kind of wish Pixar had the balls to go through with it and make some kind of reveal about how Marlin and Nemo are her family now, but I understand.  You don't want to traumatize a generation of children, a la Bambi and Lion King.

One thing I did like when I first saw it in the theatres.  On the behind-the-scenes features for Finding Nemo, director Stanton reveals that he originally planned to have a series of flashback throughout the film, showing how Marlin got so overprotective of Nemo.  But eventually he was like, "Meh, this kind of goes nowhere.  Best to just get it out of the way as a prologue."  But in Finding Dory, we finally get our series of flashbacks, and it works as flashes of Dory's memory and giving her clues as to how to find her parents, and it works!  So it's nice that Stanton finally found a way to make it work. 

Was Finding Dory needed?  No.  As I've blogged about Batman Beyond in the past, given its origins, it could have been one of the most cynical cash grabs ever.  But instead, it turned out pretty good.

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