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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Finding Dory

November 7th, 2016

Finding Dory - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack
Video on Demand

Finding Dory

As we recently reported, Finding Dory reached $1 billion this year, becoming the third film released in 2016 to reach that milestone. Is it as good as its box office numbers would indicate? Well, it is from Pixar, so the chances of that are excellent.

The Movie

We meet Dory as a child reciting what her parents, Jenny and Charlie, told her to say whenever she meets someone new. Her parents are trying to help her remember what to say and do in certain circumstances, but it is hard, because Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. They are terrified that she will wander off and forget how to return home.

In the next scene, we see Dory as a child, lost and she can’t remember where her parents are. She asks two fish for help, but wanders off before the fish can decide what to do. From them, it’s her going around asking for help, first not remembering where her parents are, then not even remembering what she’s looking for. Just then a white boat zooms overhead and we hear Marlin yelling that the boat took his son, which takes us up to the beginning of Finding Nemo.

The plot begins with Marlin taking Nemo to school with Dory tagging along. They have a field trip today, but the teacher, Mr. Ray, wants Dory to stay at home today, as her memory lapses make his job of keeping tabs on the kids more difficult. However, no one can just say no to Dory, because that would hurt her feelings. While on the field trip, she has a memory about her parents... and accidentally gets knocked unconscious. As she comes to, she mumbles “Jewel of Morro Bay, California”, which Nemo hears. When she forgets and Nemo says it to her, she has a spark of memories. She remembers her parents and knows where there are, the Jewel of Morro Bay, California. With that, she’s determined to find them. At first Marlin is insistent that they don’t go, but Dory rightfully points out that missing your family is important enough to cross an ocean.

Fortunately, Marlin know a guy, Crush, the sea turtle, so the trip to California takes almost no screen time at all. When they get there, they arrive in a shipping graveyard where several massive container ships have sunk. Dory is a little too excited to be there and starts shouting “Mom!” and “Dad!” hoping for a response. Marlin tells her to shush, then the locals do the same. This sparks another memory for Dory and she remembers her parents name. Unfortunately, this makes her even more excited and she starts yelling louder. This is unfortunate, because when the locals tell you to shush, you should shush. A dangerous chase ensues, one in which Nemo is nearly eaten.

Marlin is understandably upset at Dory, especially after she quickly forgets how Nemo was hurt. Marlin gets so upset he tells Dory to, “Go wait over there and forget. It’s what you do best.” At this point, Dory swims off to get help... only to be captured by someone in a boat. Now it’s Marlin and Nemo who have to find Dory. Meanwhile, Dory is taken into the Marine Life Institute, which is nicknamed the Jewel of Morro Bay, California. Hey, she made it. Now with the help of Hank, an octopus; Destiny, a whale shark; and Bailey, a beluga whale, she has to find her family and find a way back to the ocean.

First a bit of a warning. The first few minutes of Finding Dory are almost as sad as the opening of Up. It is heart-breaking watching Jenny and Charlie trying to raise a child with disabilities, and Dory’s faulty memory is certainly a disability. I was a little worried that the movie was going to be too depressing. That’s not the case, as Finding Dory does have a lot of humor to go with the more emotional aspects of the film. A lot of this is due to the writing, but the film also has a stunning voice cast. Ellen DeGeneres is obviously perfect as Dory, while Albert Brooks is just as good as Marlin. These two have amazing chemistry from the first film. The first time I watched the movie, I didn’t even realize Nemo had a new voice actor the first time around, so that’s impressive. Of the new characters, Hank has the most screen time and is amazing.

As for the plot of the film, the action feels a little more manic this time around. This is not a complaint, but merely a statement. A lot of Finding Nemo took place inside a single aquarium inside a dentist’s office. Finding Dory is never that confined. On the other hand, the journey takes literally one scene, so it also doesn’t feel as epic. It is more of an action film in that regard than an adventure film. Again, this is in no way a complaint. Some might find the action more exciting and thus prefer Finding Dory in this regard. The action is certainly exciting and got me into the film.

That’s not to say I had no problems with the movie. Some of which are reasonable. ... some are not. Echolocation doesn’t work the way it is shown in the movie. I would say this is an unreasonable complaint, but the echolocation plays a major part in the movie, so it not working the way it is depicted is actually a relatively big plot hole. It took me partially out of the climax of the movie and that’s a real shame. On the other hand, Hank having a mouth instead of a beak bugged me, as did the squid, as it was clearly a deep water squid and wouldn’t be living where it was seen. And why was a beluga whale, an arctic species, rescued off the coast of California? Those complaints are unreasonable, I will admit that. Also, there are maybe too many fan service moments in the movie, and by that I mean callbacks and not the jiggly kind of fan service. Some of these callbacks are great, others, like the sea lions, were a bit too similar to the seagulls from the first film. It’s a minor issue.

Overall, Finding Dory is not quite as good as Finding Nemo, but I don’t think anyone was really expecting that. It’s Oscar-worthy, but not instantly a contender for the greatest animated film of all time.

The Extras

The Blu-ray comes in a two-disc special edition, three-disc, if you include the DVD. The extras on disc one include an audio commentary with Andrew Stanton and Angus Maclane, the two co-directors, as well as Lindsey Collins, the producer. Piper is a six-minute short film that takes place on the beach with a bunch of sand pipers, including a young one who needs to learn how to hunt for the first time. Marine Life Interviews is a two-minute featurette with characters from the movie talking about Dory. The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar is a nine-minute look at the animation needed to make Hank. Because octopuses / octopi / octopodes ... All three versions are correct. I prefer octopodes, because it is the least common and sounds the most pretentious. ... Moving on. Because octopodes have no bones, they have no joints. Instead they have bodies that can stretch and move in a lot of different ways, so instead of having several hundred control points, he has a few thousand. That’s why Hank only has seven tentacles. It’s not because of the septopus joke, but because animating each tentacle was a nightmare, so getting rid of one of them made it easier. What Were We Talking About is a five-minute featurette about Dory and how her short-term memory loss works as part of the story. Casual Carpool is a four-minute look at Andrew Stanton and four of the actors, Ed O’Neill, Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy, and Ty Burrell, as they carpool to work one day. Acting and Animation is a seven-minute behind-the-scenes for the voicework and how the animators turn those performances into actions. Deep in the Kelp is a 3-minute look at the research the Pixar team did to make the movie more realistic. The final extra on the first disc is Creature Features, which has the actors giving trivia about their characters. If this were all of the extras, then the Blu-ray combo pack would be a Pick of the Week contender. However...

There’s a second disc with a lot more videos, five of which are under the Behind-the-Scenes. The first of these is Skating and Sketching with Jason Deamer, who talks about how how he got his job and his sketching style. Dory’s Theme is a five-minute look at the creating of the score. Rough Day on the Reef is a minute of computer glitches. There is a three-minute retelling of Finding Nemo done in emojis. Fish Schticks is four minutes of character bits. There are four Living Aquariums. Finally, there are 50 minutes of deleted scenes, with introduction.

The Verdict

I already named Finding Dory Pick of the Week when it came out on Video on Demand. The Blu-ray Combo Pack has two hours of featurettes / deleted scenes, so it is clearly worth picking up and it beat my expectations. If you haven’t already pre-ordered it, do that now.

Filed under: Video Review, Finding Dory, Albert Brooks, Ty Burrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Lindsey Collins, Hayden Rolence, Angus Maclane
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