It's kind of fitting that the character who Finding Dory centers around suffers from short-term memory loss since her movie is so darn forgettable. Wait now, Emily. Surely you can't be talking about the long-awaited sequel to the beloved Pixar classic Finding Nemo. That movie has 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. You must have seen a different movie. Perhaps I did because I must say upfront that I'm finding the overwhelming love to this film to be both surprising and confusing. As I'm the minority on this issue, I'm sure those expecting to love this movie still will....but let me address some of the good and the bad.
Right from the beginning we're introduced to the baby version of our forgetful Dory as her parents desperately try to teach her how to survive in case something ever happens and they're not there. After that, the film quickly picks up where Finding Nemo left off as recently returned Nemo is back settling into routine life wherever it was in the ocean they lived (I'm guessing Florida.) Shortly after, Dory has a flashback to her parents she lost and she's determined to find them, but she knows she can't do it alone. Marlin, feeling he needs to pay Dory back for her help during the events of Nemo reluctantly agrees and they start their journey across the ocean. Again.
The film often switches back and forth between the flashbacks as Dory's memories are sparked through her journey. I could tell Pixar wanted so badly for me to just fawn all over the baby Dory, but my appreciation never came and I couldn't shake my disconnect to the whole adventure until halfway through the movie. I was glad they didn't completely copy Nemo and make the whole film about the journey through the ocean...yet by glossing over it, as they did, it almost felt like a disservice at the same time. To accomplish something that took a whole film last go around, they do in about 5 minutes here. I get the writers conundrum in not wanting to duplicate the exact formula, and I might have been more appreciative if some truly creative material followed. Instead, the endless callbacks to everything everyone loved the first time get old pretty quickly and the majority of the plot was just useless conflict after useless conflict. It kinda felt like they amplified the dentist portion of the plot from Nemo and thought of different ways fish could be separated from one another and called it a day. Honestly, I was pretty over it by the time there were like 5 more conflicts still to overcome.
"Let's have Dory speak whale again. Everyone loved that the first time." - An example of the ideas coming out of the pitch room for Dory.
Was that a lot of ranting? Probably. But truth be told, I didn't even laugh until about an hour in. There were two sequences I genuinely liked....only to realize later that night that one of them was directly ripped off from their own earlier work in Toy Story 3 (ie the scene where Dory and her new octopus acquaintance are trapped in the kids touching exhibit, seemed almost identical to the kids daycare scene in Toy Story 3 where all the toys are extremely traumatized with how rough the children treated them.) That said...it's a pleasant enough film and a lot better than most animated kids films, and it will be enjoyable to many people... particularly those who don't gripe over some of the things that I do. After all, the film is stunning to look at, and as a 3D experience, it was pretty cool to see the depths of the ocean. But as someone who admired the first one's creativity enough, it's sad to see Pixar turn in such an uninspired work (and incredibly puzzling to see such praise for it.) When sequels are ordered rather than organic, it really shows...and try as Pixar might to give us something new and original they just can't deliver because the heart wasn't there. RATING: 6/10