This sequel was a long time coming and it was worth the wait, to some degree. I should really start off on high note and let the cards tumble after that. The rich palette of colors alone makes this movie eye-catching. I wasn’t particularly overjoyed by the pre-movie short, Piper, but it was cute. The movie centers around the concept of Dory trying to find her family. Unlike Finding Nemo, the stakes aren’t nearly as high and this makes the story seem less compelling. Dory is amusing and frustrating all in one breadth. Having a main character whose memory issues delay the story instead of moving it forward is tough for the audience hold onto. At varying points during the movie, the plot meandered, matching pace with Dory. The characters were much more developed in the second movie and it was fun seeing some of the ‘bit’ characters getting a larger role, like the students in Nemo’s class. My nephew (almost 3) and niece (5) couldn’t pay attention for the duration, but two teenagers sitting next to me couldn’t stop crying or making ridiculously stupid remarks. The theatre was packed.
I won’t say the movie wasn’t entertaining, it absolutely was. In this day and age, and I used to focus on this more, it is important to look at diversity and female roles. In an animated movie with animals, this was hardly relevant, save for the fact that the main cast was predominately white. While the characters are hidden behind a mask, this is still quite apparent. With the main character being a woman, and the story certainly passing the Bechdel test, the plot can’t be faulted greatly.
In what turned out to be an uncertain turn of events, I both lauded and was appalled by the way Pixar approached mental illness. Dory has a learning disability. Everyone around her tries to compensate for this. At an early (and adorable) age, she is taught to keep telling people about her disability. It is used to great comic effect. Imagine if someone tried to do this in real life, would we all respond so kindly? While Nemo highlights that her memory issue is an asset, making her fearless, it could also be construed as highly dangerous. Though she manages to avoid catastrophe, these are used as punchlines. Great for kids with issues, but if they tried to replicate Dory’s behavior, they’d be dead. However strange this might seem, the sea lions ruined this movie for me. They were so mean to the clearly differently abled sea lion, Gerald. I actually already foundarticles about this online, so I’m not alone. Is it right to mock and make fun of someone who is autistic? That is what it looks like in the movie. It was quite a letdown for such a fun movie. It was unnecessary. The other two sea lions were basically bullies.
On the one hand, it seemed like everyone in the movie had some weird deficiency, like the whale who thought his echolocation was broken and too afraid to use it. While it is great to have comedy, what lesson is it teaching? This is a movie you should watch, but this discussion might take some of the fun out of it.