I was not very optimistic going into this movie because every single trailer I saw just screamed that this was not going to be a new movie but would instead just be “Finding Nemo Again”. This was kind of the case, but it was not as much of a copy-and-paste plot as I was fearing it would be (well, at least not as much as, say, Star Wars Episode VII was).
Also, to people who have children, for the love of God, if your child is not at the age where they are capable of sitting quietly in a seat for two hours, then maybe it’s not a good idea to bring them to a movie. Good grief.
So Finding Dory was not as much of a catastrophe as I thought it would be. It is nothing close to special or exceptional, but at least there is enough enjoyment to be had watching this film. It benefits from having Dory as a leading protagonist because Dory herself is a very humorous character (and I laughed quite a bit in this movie), but it also detriments from having Dory as a leading protagonist because Dory’s character is not designed to be a leading protagonist.
In the first movie, since her character is taking passenger seat on Marlin’s adventure, the majority of the humor was made at the contrast between Marlin’s fear and grumpiness and Dory’s light-hearted carefreeness. But since Dory spends over half of the movie not with Marlin, we just get a big heaping helping of Dory. If that sounds like a great idea to you, then good, but to me the movie got fairly tiresome at more than a few points.
It’s like in the Despicable Me franchise when they realized how popular the minions were getting, so they made a crappy movie that focuses completely on them. But like the minions, Dory seems to work better as a supporting character than as a lead.
Pixar seemed to realize that Dory does not work unless contrasted by the other extreme because whenever Dory’s not with Marlin (and Nemo), she’s with Hank the squid (octopus?). Hank is basically Marlin with slightly more grumpiness and slightly less fear. I found Hank to be humorous at times, but the majority of his character is defined by how he reacts to Dory because Hank does not have any extreme motivational reasoning for doing the things that he’s doing like Marlin had in Finding Nemo.
As for Marlin and Nemo, except for a few scenes where they contribute to the plot, they might as well not be in the film at all. Obviously, they needed to be in the film for a little bit because, you know, Dory can’t do things on her own, but when Dory meets up with Hank, it felt like Marlin and Nemo were only in the film as a distraction from the primary story. This is not even to mention that Marlin basically goes through the exact same character arc that he did in Finding Nemo.
So the more I watch Pixar movies, the more I am starting to see constant similarities in plot structures in all of their movies. There were quite a few times where certain plot devices happened where I immediately remembered similar plot devices happening in not just Finding Nemo, but Toy Story(s), Monsters Inc., A Bug’s Life, and even Inside Out. And considering this film is nothing special, I cannot help but wonder if Pixar is starting to lose its touch. I’ve watched all of their old movies twice and have loved them, but ever since Up, I feel like the quality of Pixar movies has been degrading. Yes, there is still entertainment value in nearly all of their movies, and yes they are still exceptional to most other mainstream animated films (mainly because most other mainstream animated films suck), but it seems like Pixar is running out of ideas and are just copying old ideas instead.
There was also an annoying amount of conveniences to the film that evaporated any possible tension, but hey it’s a kids movie.
Anyway, it’s a Pixar movie, so you’ll probably like it. Dory’s history was relatively interesting, the animation is good as always, and I had some fun and laughter despite it never feeling like a new movie and despite the obnoxious two-year-old in the back hopping in and out of his/her chair and not shutting up. Don’t let me stop you from seeing this movie, because chances are you will probably like it more than me, and I’m giving this movie a 5 out of 10.