Year 9, Day 197 - 7/16/17 - Movie #2,691
BEFORE: You might imagine that it would have made sense to drop in "Despicable Me 3" next, with both Steve Coogan and Jenny Slate carrying over from "The Secret Life of Pets". I tried very hard to make that work, but that would have led to a dead-end in the chain - even though a lot of voice-over actors have appeared in multiple films since I started my (mostly-)animated chain back on June 28, there just wasn't a way to work that one in. Originally I had this film up at the start of the chain, but then when I saw the magnitude of the rich tapestry of films available to me via Netflix, I realized I needed to flip things around in order to fit everything in, and also to accommodate "Spider-Man: Homecoming". So this one got re-located to the end of the chain, along with tomorrow's film and "Cars 3". I'm still on track to wrap up this subject matter by Wednesday, when I leave for Comic-Con, though.
THE PLOT: The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, begins a search for her long-lost parents and learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.
AFTER: Maybe I'm suffering from a bit of fatigue where animated films are concerned. This is my 12th animated feature in about three weeks' time, and honestly I'm burnt out on cute talking animals. (Just three days to go, two more films with talking animals, and one with talking cars...). The Hollywood animation machine keeps cranking this stuff out - maybe I'd think of it all differently if I had kids, but I don't, so instead I'm just a sad, aging man watching cartoons by himself, late at night. But at least I'm a professional sad, aging man watching cartoons.
Where sequels are concerned, of course they should only be done if there is more story to tell, but honestly sometimes it feels like companies are keeping franchises going by answering lingering questions that never needed to be asked in the first place. (cough....Rogue One...cough). Was anyone staying up nights wondering where Dory, the forgetful fish, grew up? I doubt it, since she can't be made to remember, why should we even care? I mean, everyone was born somewhere, everyone grew up somewhere, most people remember even if they might want to forget, and most animals are probably too busy trying not to be eaten to even spare a minute to think about it. Ah, but there are salmon, which somehow remember where they were born when it's time for them to spawn. (Though, if you think about it, how do we know that each salmon is traveling up the EXACT same river that it came from? Don't all rivers look alike if you're a fish? How do we confirm this little factoid, or did this come from another Disney-propaganda documentary, like the one that incorrectly told us that lemmings all jump off cliffs together, when in fact those lemmings were PUSHED off by the documentary filmmakers - it's true, please look it up.).
"Finding Dory" tells us that manta rays migrate, a fact which plays a role in Dory remembering something about her childhood - but this fact is also suspect. Recent research suggests that manta rays do not, like whales, travel thousands of miles following their food sources, and instead stay within areas of the ocean only around 140 miles across, as confirmed by satellite tags and tests of their muscle samples that demonstrate dietary quirks. But let's not get bogged down in science, here, because the animators here didn't, either.
This film serves as both the prequel AND sequel to "Finding Nemo", since we see Dory when she's just a baby fish, interacting with her parents who try to help her find ways to cope with her short-term memory loss, and this part of the story takes us right up to the point where she meets Marlin in the first film, then skips ahead to the time later, when her memory gets jogged and she gets flashes of her parents and the location in which they (hopefully) still live. And so she sets out with the help of her new friends to ride the jetstream across the Pacific and find a specific bay in California, where there happens to be a Marine Institute that rescues and relocates fish. But apparently not all, because after spending time in quarantine, Dory concludes that this may be where she grew up, and her parents may be part of an ongoing exhibit at the aquarium.
Before re-connecting with her childhood friends, Dory encounters a 7-legged octopus who offers to help her, in exchange for the tag on her fin that will send him to Cleveland, to keep himself from being released back in to the ocean. The octopus was probably the best character in the whole film, in my opinion, not just because it's a type of sea creature we haven't seen before, but because he was often surly and neurotic, not your typical bright and optimistic Disney creature. Plus it was cool that he could change his color and camouflage himself, even though another prominent character did that in "The Penguins of Madagascar" - but hey, all of these animated films are drawing from the same playbook, it seems. Both this film and last night's film "The Secret Life of Pets" had animals escaping from a truck that falls off a bridge, for example.
NITPICK POINT: This one's directed at last night's film also, which fell back on those old tropes about all toilets somehow leading to large communal chambers under NYC, where alligators are allowed to live and grow to massive scale - is that even how sewer pipes work? I was more under the impression that sewage was a closed system, which would lead to, I don't know, maybe a sewage treatment plant, rather than directly into a river or the ocean, which I think would probably be against all community sanitary standards. Maybe "Finding Dory" isn't as bad in this regard, but it leads us to believe that all of the tanks in an aquarium would be connected by a series of underground pipes, which I'm not sure would be the case. Sure, every tank in an aquarium would probably have some kind of drainage system, but wouldn't it be closed most of the time? Because otherwise any infestation of algae or other unwanted microorganisms would, under an open system, be able to spread across the entire aquarium very easily. I'm just saying, if you're a screenwriter, maybe stop and do a couple of hours of research into how sewers or drainage systems work, if that happens to be an important element of your story.
Also starring the voices of Ellen Degeneres (last seen in "Edtv"), Ed O'Neill (last heard in "Wreck-It Ralph"), Kaitlin Olson (last seen in "Vacation"), Ty Burrell (last heard in "Mr. Peabody & Sherman"), Diane Keaton (last seen in "Reds"), Eugene Levy (last seen in "Club Paradise"), Hayden Rolence, Idris Elba (last heard in "The Jungle Book"), Dominic West (last seen in "Money Monster"), Bob Peterson, Bill Hader (last heard in "The BFG"), Kate McKinnon (last seen in "Ted 2"), Sigourney Weaver (last seen in "Vantage Point"), Andrew Stanton, with vocal cameos from John Ratzenberger (also last seen in "Reds"), Willem Dafoe (last seen in "Out of the Furnace"), Brad Garrett (last seen in "Music and Lyrics"), Allison Janney (last seen in "The Rewrite"), Austin Pendleton (last seen in "Starting Over'), Stephen Root (last seen in "Robocop 3"), Vicki Lewis (last heard in "Alpha and Omega").
RATING: 5 out of 10 hugging otters