Finding Dory: Was it worth the wait?

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The long wait is finally over. But has Finding Dory lived up to expectations?

It’s been nearly 14 years. 14 years. To all the kids of the 2000s, we’ve waited patiently. We’ve sat at our computers day in and day out, waiting, hoping, even praying for a sequel to Finding Nemo. So when Finding Dory was announced on April 2013, it is safe to say a lot of us wet our pants a little. But could Finding Dory live up to its forbearer? Well, kind of. But not really.

Finding Nemo was a ground breaking movie created by an already ground breaking studio in Disney Pixar. It felt like The Little Mermaid had a reality check, and brought us so many fantastic characters and an absolute heartstring puller of a storyline. For us Aussies, there was another element of fun, seeing characters like Bruce the Great White Shark and his group of reformed fish-eating friends perfectly encapsulating the Aussie spirit, as well as a ripper showcasing of Sydney’s Harbour.

Bruce the Great White Shark in Finding Nemo. Source:
Bruce the Great White Shark in Finding Nemo. Source: Disney Pixar.

Finding Nemo added a personality to the deep blue ocean, much like A Bug’s Life gave a face to insects that usually end up on the wrong end of a boot. It made us think about our place in the food chain, question fishing practices (Swim down!) and question the taking fish from their natural habitats to be placed in aquariums.

Before I go on, let me set the record straight: I really enjoyed Finding Dory.

It had plenty of redeeming qualities. As we’ve come to expect from Disney Pixar, the movie was packed to the rafters with laughs. The cameo performances were to die for, personal favourites including Fluke and Rudder (a pair of helpful British Sea Lions), and Becky, a clinically insane Common Loon. There was even, if only for a brief moment, the reappearance of Crush and Squirt, the Father Son Sea Turtle tag-team (“duuuuude”).

No matter what species, Disney Pixar always seems to perfectly encapsulate our imaginations and take even the most mundane creatures and make them hilarious.

But all the cameos in the world won’t make up for the fact that three fish were somehow able to cross the Pacific Ocean to reach California in a 5 second montage. I know this criticism might seem a little harsh, and yes I realise Finding Dory is a kids movie already riddled with unrealistic occurrences. But the fact is, a big chunk of the audience that goes to Disney Pixar films consists of ages as young as in the womb, all the way through to urns looking to get some post-life laughs. Because of this wide demographic, the storyline really does need to cater to to everyone. Since Dory had to cross half the world for a sequel, I couldn’t help but feel it was all a little forced, and perhaps a sequel wasn’t really necessary.

Even more so, I would hope Disney Pixar doesn’t want to Shrek out and keep making sequels for the heck of it.

If Pixar aren’t going to bring something entirely new to the table, they’re never really going to live up to their full potential. Take Toy Story for example. Number one was a classic; no one can deny that. But it didn’t stop there. Numbers two and three were increasingly better and explored entire new realms of the life of Toys around America. At the base level, Finding Dory reimagined a lot of the same concepts with slightly different characters, which still made for a great movie, but nothing revolutionary.

Dory takes centre stage. Source: Disney Pixar.
Dory takes centre stage. Source: Disney Pixar.

I will say this about Finding Dory, I truly admired the relationship between Dory and her parents, Charlie and Jenny.

I couldn’t help but liken their situation – helping their daughter who suffers from short-term memory loss – to that of any parent who has a special needs child. It was beautiful to see them build Dory’s confidence, and support her despite her short-comings, choosing always to be patient and caring.

Finding Dory is a very good movie, one that is definitely worth seeing. Unfortunately though, I don’t think it lived up to its potential and could have separated itself from Finding Nemo’s storyline more than it did.

My rating: 7/10

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