Review: Finding Dory Is The Joy We Need Right Now

Title: Finding Dory
Director: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane
Summary:The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.

This review is probably going to date weirdly but it’s something that I need to address. I saw Finding Dory on Monday evening mere days after the Orlando massacre that has left fifty people dead. I almost didn’t want to go because there was a vigil being held downtown at the same time but I opted for the movie. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do, but this movie feels like one that needs to come out this week. Pixar movies are known for being happy but also bringing audience members to tears which feels like the thing that everyone needs right now, even if I wasn’t too excited about the movie to begin with.

Finding Dory isn’t quite as good as Finding Nemo, and lacks the emotional gut punch of Inside Out or Up, but it is joyful and happy in a time when we could use some of both.

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Finding Dory
Photo: Pixar

The short that played before the movie is called Piper and it is probably going to win best animated short. It’s about a little sandpiper that needs to learn to feed itself. This is one of those Pixar shorts where you’re smiling the entire time and want to laugh with joy by the end.

Pixar is a studio that hasn’t really swung and missed yet. While Brave wasn’t perfect and the Cars movies exist to sell toys than tell stories, they always produce quality content. I wasn’t really looking forward to Finding Dory because it felt a little lazy but I can understand why Pixar did it. They had two original movies last year and Moama later this year so a sequel is fine. The thing that I was worried about was the shift of focus. I was worried that Finding Dory would lose some of its weight by focusing on a character like Dory (Ellen DeGeneres *voice*) instead Marlin (Albert Brooks *voice*). The movie sidesteps this problem by keeping Marlin and Nemo (Hayden Rolence *voice*) in the story. The movie feels very balanced in who they decide to focus on and Dory’s memory problem never gets irritating.

The highlight of the movie is Hank (Ed O’Neill *voice*), the mimic octopus. I already consider the mimic to be a fascinating creature to begin with and I think parents should explain to their kids what they are before they see the movie. Hank is funny and the way they use him is great as he bounces off of Dory in an easy going way. He is the dry sense of humor as he only helps Dory so he can get a tag from her and go to Cleveland. Hank doesn’t want to go into the wild and would rather hide in a glass case. There are a lot of jokes that won’t make sense to some that don’t know how brilliant octopi can be. Hank escaped his own tank, for example, which octopi are known for doing.

The movie doesn’t get quite as dark as some other Pixar movies but it does get very close. There is one moment that really gets to me, but this is a Pixar movie that seems to focus on being happy rather than being sad. When I say that it’s not as good as Finding Nemo that’s like comparing silver and gold; both are precious in their own ways. Finding Nemo is a classic that introduced us to a new world under the ocean. Finding Dory is more focused on the world outside the ocean and how fish might react in aquariums. It doesn’t feel quite as groundbreaking as the original but it’s still leagues above what other animation studios are putting out. There is a Marvel style extra credits scene that might be worth the price of admission so stay until the very end.

Finding Dory is the movie we all need to go see this weekend. We need to remember what it’s like to feel joy and be happy in such dark times. The movies are here for escapism and Finding Dory is perfect for the entire family. It’s a movie that revels in its ability to make everyone watching it smile, and I think that’s something we could all use right now.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.