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3halfstars

Life is a Game of Hide & Seek

For many years, I considered Finding Nemo as Pixar’s best film and I would still place it in their Top 4. When I heard about the deal that director/writer Andrew Stanton made with Disney to create a sequel in exchange for one more shot at a live action feature, my feelings were mixed. The end of Nemo is so satisfying and well-rounded, it was difficult to see what else could be done with these characters. How many times can you lose the same fish? By shifting the focus to Dory, though, they opened up new possibilities, and I was willing to reserve judgment.

As with any Pixar film, the animation is top-notch and pushes new boundaries (aside: the pre-movie short Piper is breathtaking). Hank the seven-legged octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill) is the best addition to this big blue world’s cast of colorful characters, and the flashback scenes of young Dory grappling with her unusual handicap are the story’s highlight. The patience and creativity shown by her parents is especially of note in these sequences – but more on that in a bit.

The pacing of the film suffers throughout its 97-minute run time, nor is the humor as rich as its predecessor or the emotional payoffs as big. While the characters already feel a bit tired here, it’s still worth seeing and is a worthy effort – it just fails to fill in the fins of the original and feels more labored.

While the plot is essentially the same as the first but inverted, it makes an interesting point in blurring the line between seeking and being sought. Throughout the film, there is a tug of war between those actions, a reciprocal cause and effect of being sought while seeking, and finding while being found. When Dory’s parents play hide and seek with her, it’s not truly Dory who is seeking them, but they who are seeking the welfare of their child and playfully developing the coping mechanisms she needs to survive. I think for parents of children with handicaps and disabilities, Finding Dory is a sweet and joyful reminder that the effort spent on helping your child is never wasted even on those days when you feel like there is no progress. Change is happening, slow and steady, and love is the fuel that powers the engine of progress. Being present is more potent than being perfect – a lesson I require in my own parenting.

I think it’s one of those movies that I will like more upon repeated viewings once I can fully digest it. And having a wiggly, tired toddler does not always lead to an ideal viewing experience(and yet there’s no better laugh than one from your child). Life is a game of hide and seek – sometimes we find things that we weren’t looking for, and more often than not, those are things that add the beauty to life.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Finding Dory (2016)

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