Title: Finding Dory
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Music: Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Jeremy Lasky
13 years for a sequel of a family-friend animation picture is something boldly risky in this consumerism age, since 2003, DreamWorks’s SHREK series has been long over its last gasp after its fourth breath SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010), BlueSky’s ICE AGE franchise has reached an abysmal nadir with its latest fifth offering ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (2016), but FINDING DORY, the belated follow-up of FINDING NEMO (2003), inscribed with Pixar’s trademark, safeguards itself as another superlative family fare can win over audience without age restrictions (from toddlers to the elderly).
Storytelling is as always, the trump card for Pixar studio, the core of FINDING DORY is to find one’s home, even for Dory (DeGeneres), the regal blue tang only has a short-time memory (an idiosyncrasy meritoriously hasn’t been over-employed here), but how can Dory remember her family? Here the narrative deploys a conventional fillip, – sudden flashbacks of Dory’s past conveniently transmit into Dory’s mind with key information – to the trio’s intrepid ocean-cross adventure, of course, clownfish father-son duo Marlin (Brooks) and Nemo (Rolence) cannot let her go gangbusters by all herself.
Soon after, the movie’s setting undergoes a sea change from the dim deep ocean (it is noteworthy the animation team doesn’t choose to cartoon the ocean scenery, which looks extremely realistic than one would expect, murky, claustrophobic and uncannily threatening) to a man-made Marine Life Institute, where Dory is separated from Marlin and Nemo, the siren call is from Sigourney Weaver herself, this quite unanticipated change drastically lights up audience’s sense of visual assimilation and introduces a new friend to Dory, the seven-tentacled, quarantine-obsessed octopus Hank (O’Neill), whose staggering camouflage skill would buoyantly lead Dory to a freewheeling caper, terra firma style. Shortly, Dory meets her childhood friend, a myopic whale shark Destiny (Olson) and her neighbour, a beluga whale Bailey (Burrell), the latter’s re-gained echolocation capacity would play a really important role in Dory’s and the clownfish pair find each other again (and again), that’s another plus point of a Pixar vehicle, you can always learn something new in addition to all the roller-coastering fun. (octopus has three hearts, do you know that?)
Certainly, there is an overhanging dreadfulness that Dory’s parents might have been dead, and indeed FINDING DORY is dauntless enough to bringing death up for a closer look before diverting into something more traditional but also massively touching – all the shells lead to home, it is an emotive moment, how incredible neither Dory nor her parents have lost hope for their ultimate reunion (the story is one fish-year after FINDING NEMO 2003, but in human year, it feels like 13 years). Family first, but friends are in close second, in the third act, Dory has to go out on a limb to do something no other blue tang has ever done and off the beaten track to where no other blue tang has ever been, she must stop a truck heading to Cleveland on the busy overpass and set free the captured Marlin and Nemo, with the help of all her friends, mostly Hank and a ditzy common loon Betty, the upshot is that they release the entire aquatic life in transportation into the ocean along the truck itself, emotionally elevated by WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD and spectacular slow-motion, finally, Sia’s rendition of UNFORGETTABLE in the coda pertinently leaves audience a lingering savour of blitheness and satisfaction.
FINDING DORY doesn’t have a concept as groundbreaking or intricate as INSIDE OUT (2015), but it is all the same, immensely fulfilling, so is the preceding wordless short PIPER (2016), directed by Alan Barillaro, where a baby sandpiper overcomes his primal fear about water and finally wallows in the waves near the sea, a pithy story reflects weighty meaning. All in all, Pixar is a godsend to us who are blessed with innocence and simplicity, we can only covetously wish its inspiration and talent never run dry.