Finding Dory is an underwhelming addition to Pixar’s roster of classics. It moves at such a brake-neck pace that it leaves the arch of the protagonist, Dory, behind.
The Story: Dory loses her parents at a young age. We’re entreated to what they’re like through several flashbacks. Funnily enough, each one of these forced memories entails the parents teaching Dory a lesson on “How not to get lost.” Chalk it up to poor parenting, I guess.
Anyway, Dory remembers she has parents and immediately sets out after them with the aid of her pals Nemo, and, a very tired sounding Albert Brooks as Marlin. Other fan favourites like the stingray come back around, dropping lofty dialogues about “Home” and “Instinct” that will no doubt come back around at the end. The turtles also reappear to escort Dory to California—in a matter of minutes it would seem.
Shortly after arriving, Dory gets distracted by the tranquil voice of Sigourney Weaver, and swims off towards it. Then, Marine biologists capture her and take her a fish hospital, where she encounters a crotchety septipus, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He agrees to literally carry her to the next checkpoint on her journey: The main aquarium at the marine institute. There, she finds her parents old home, marked by a line of seashells, which at one point in time, were meant to guide the young Dory back home. Only the parents aren’t there, so, after some back and forth she’s separated and cast back into the ocean.
After swimming back towards the seaweed she finds familiar, she finds a line of shells in the sand and follows it right back to the parent’s home. The image of lines of shells that spread out from the house in every direction is powerful, implying that the parents never gave up hope. But the journey there happens in too brief of a time span for it to have any impact; she lucks out and finds them, when this really should be the darkest chapter in her journey.
Let me put it this way: This is her desert, her isolation, where she’s lost, separated, and alone. She needed to spend the whole night arduously swimming the murky depths, finding shells, dusting off the ones submerged by the current. She needed to follow them for a long enough period of time for her mind to waver on whether or not to keep following the shells. She needed to struggle through the delirium, to follow her instinct and not get turned around.
Instead, the transition from her isolation to her reintegration with her family is sped up for the sake of an “Action Packed Rescue” that’s unnecessary to Dory’s arch. The story wasn’t about her perfecting her jail breaking abilities; it’s about her heart longing for something that her mind has trouble remembering. But, Ironically, amidst all the chaos of the finales aquatic grand theft auto, Dory’s arch is forgotten.
In the films defence, it’s very competent. The vibrant animation resembles the magic of the original. Most of the voice actors bring their A-game. And the new characters, like the sea lions had me giggling like a little boy. As with any Pixar movie, the jokes are clever. But, I felt the script get tugged in too many directions, and despite being a long movie, Dory’s arch is a little too concise. In summary, they tried to cram in too much other shit, rather than focus on Dory’s story.