Little Sister returns, and today we’re here to review Pixar’s latest smash hit, Finding Dory! We got to see what all the fuss was about last week and are pleased to bring you our thoughts on the film’s treatment of adoption and disability, Pixar’s slump into “sequelitis,” and more. And yes, I realize I say “Okay, so…” way too much. Also, #spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Me: Okay, so before we get into Finding Dory, can we talk about the opening short, Piper? Because my head exploded from the cuteness…
Little Sis: Of COURSE we can! So, do we want to talk about the plot, or the cuteness, or the cuteness…?
Me: Well, what did you like about it?
LS: Well, apart from the cuteness, it was a good life lesson about getting out and doing things in the world and doing things for ourself, and that was the whole point. But, then again, the cuteness was probably what I liked about it. [giggling]
Me: What did you like about the animation?
LS: The water looked real, the animals were very furry, I mean you could tell that it was animated, but only just barely, I think, ‘cuz it was really well done.
Me: Yeah, just the way they did the waves and the wet feathers.
LS: Awwwwww! And the sand sticking to the wet feathers!
Me: I know! Much better than the short for Inside Out, I thought.
LS: Oh, no. Yeah, okay, that was ridiculous.
Me: [singing] “I laaaaava.”
LS: I don’t think that was exactly the song, I do remember it, but I’m not going to sing it, because it drives me crazy.
Me: Okay. So, yeah, Piper is almost worth the price of admission by itself.
Me: Okay, so you were very excited going into this movie because you loved Finding Nemo so much. Did it live up to your expectations?
LS: Yeah, definitely.
Me: Would you say you like it as well as Finding Nemo, or…?
LS: Better, probably.
LS: I mean, nothing against Finding Nemo at all, Finding Nemo‘s great and all, but I think… I didn’t cry at Finding Nemo.
Me: Awww, don’t you have a heart?
LS: Yes, yes I do, but I mean, Pixar’s just, we’re setting a higher and higher standard for Pixar, and they keep coming up to it every time.
Me: Okay, so who was your favorite new character?
LS: Probably Hank.
LS: He’s hilarious. He’s so grumpy!
Me: Most people agree Hank is by far the best new character.
LS: Yeah, and come on, excellent camouflage. What can beat that?
Me: Yeah, camouflage like a boss. Technically, he’s a septopus.
LS: Right, ‘cuz he lost a leg.
Me: Yep, that’s right. Yeah, I love him, he’s the cranky old man of the cast. Okay, so a big theme in this movie is overcoming disability or just insecurity. Do you think it could encourage kids who struggle with these things?
LS: Um, yeah, I think it could. And it just touches on, like, meeting new people, and what are you going to do? Also the parents of disabled kids, because her parents are portrayed very well, struggling with a disabled daughter. So, I think that it can apply to both, it can apply to parents and kids.
Me: Do you feel like the emotion in the movie was earned, or did it sometimes slide into manipulation or sentimentalism?
LS: You know, I don’t usually feel that way. I mean, you expect to cry in a Pixar movie, and you don’t usually feel that you’ve been manipulated, because it’s Pixar.
Me: So they’re immune to sentimentalism?
LS: Yeah, I didn’t think anything was overly fluffy. You know, if it was just a little fluffy, it was fine. But it was very sweet and sad in some places, which is fine. I don’t think I was manipulated.
Me: Yeah, I did cry for whatever that’s worth.
LS: Yes, and you’re [age redacted!]
Me: Okay, so I heard somebody critiquing this movie the other day by suggesting that it might give young adopted kids a misconception about what it means to be separated from your birth parents. So, Dory’s parents are portrayed as frantically looking for her, but of course not every foster kid or adopted kid has parents who actually want him.
LS: Well, Dory’s not adopted.
Me: Well, but Marlin has kind of adopted her.
LS: Kind of. I mean, it’s odd, because she’s not a kid, she’s really more like a young adult.
Me: Yeah, but I mean, in real life, if somebody like Dory had that severe of a disability, she would probably need a legal guardian.
LS: Good point.
Me: I think she’s portrayed as being maybe 17 or something?
LS: I thought she was maybe early 20s, but, you know, she’s a fish…
LS: But you think it might portray that even if you’re living in a normal home, you should still rush off to go look for your parents.
Me: Or that your parents are trying to look for you.
LS: Yeah, I mean, that’s true. But I don’t know anyone who’s adopted, so I can’t really say.
Me: Yeah, I wouldn’t criticize the movie for that reason, but it might be an interesting thing to talk through if you took an adopted kid or a foster kid to see the movie.
LS: Like does this make you feel…
Me: Or just to explain that sometimes kids are intentionally separated from their birth parents, or sometimes the birth parent gives the kid up, and it’s not the kid’s fault necessarily.
LS: Right, but in this movie…she just got lost, that’s really all it was.
Me: Yeah, well, she goes into the undertow when she’s not supposed to.
LS: Right, because she’s looking for a purple shell.
Me: I knooooow!
LS: Because Mommy loves purple shells!
Me: Don’t make me cry. Okay, so, if you could change something about the movie, what would it be?
LS: Um, hmmmmm, maybe I’ll have to get back to you on that. I don’t really know!
Me: I thought the ending was a little long.
LS: Yeah, because you had to lose… oh, hashtag, spoilers. Are we talking about spoilers?
Me: Yeah, we can talk about spoilers.
LS: Okay, ‘cuz like, everyone gets lost, and then they leave another person, or fish, behind, and then they have to go back… but you know, Pixar’s sort of notorious to [sic] that, and I kind of felt like that a little bit, I love Inside Out, I love Inside Out, but they did drag out the ending just a little bit.
Me: It’s like it almost had multiple endings.
LS: Yeah, because it was like a shopping mall. You keep losing one kid, then you lose another kid…
Me: I almost thought it could have ended at the moment when…
LS: She finds her parents?
Me: No, there was more that needed to be told there, but like when the truck flips over and all the fish are released into the sea, and it’s all slow motion, and it’s playing “What a Wonderful World,” that could have been the end, right there.
LS: Good point, but I think it was still kind of funny, when they’re back home with everyone, and she goes out and Marlin follows her.
Me: To make sure she doesn’t get lost aGAIN.
Me: Okay, and finally, Pixar has several sequels in production, including Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4 and Cars 3. What do you think about the idea of sequels in general and Pixar sequels in particular? Would it be better for them to do fewer sequels and more original work?
LS: Well, I actually haven’t seen… and I don’t really care, I’m not weeping about this, I haven’t seen all the Toy Story sequels, or all the Cars sequels, but I’ve heard they’re not all that good. So I think that this would be a good ending-point for the Finding Nemo sequels, because if you do just one, then that has another thing, and you explore a little bit, but I think then we can be done. ‘Cuz I don’t think we need to make three and four and five and six and, you know.
Me: Some people think Pixar is falling into the same trap some other companies and franchises have of not doing enough original stuff. And it’s particularly noticeable for Pixar, because they began so original. They had so many new ideas.
LS: Right, but I think that they can still come up with new ideas. I mean look at Inside Out, that wasn’t a ripoff.
Me: Nope. Or a sequel.
LS: I think they are definitely capable of coming up with new stuff, but if they feel lazy and “Oh let’s throw out another beautifully animated, gorgeous movie,” you know, [and] it’s sequel, hey whatever, let’s just go for it, people!
Me: Well, and I have read that after the sequels I’ve just named, they have several more original ideas, so I’m excited about that.
LS: Good, good! I’ll pay to watch those!
Me: Yeah, and I am really looking forward to Incredibles 2.
LS: I mean that’s been so long, I mean it’s not like they’re pulling one out every year. That was, how long has it been, 15, 20 years? Something like that?
Me: Oh no, not that long.
LS: Maybe not that long. A decade? I think it was a decade…
Me: I’ll look it up. It’s been a while. But, you know, because it’s a family, and because it’s patterned after comic books, I think you could easily tell another really engaging story.
LS: Yeah, about how their kids are older.
Me: Yeah, I mean, Dash’s voice has changed by now, they could probably get the same kid back.
LS: Oh, wow!
Me: So then, do you think Finding Dory was a stretch, or that the story was original enough to justify its own movie?
LS: Well, I mean, it was called Finding Dory, but the title, in a sense wasn’t accurate. At first, when I heard it, I thought, “Oh, so it’s just Dory getting lost?” and no, there’s more to it than that, so I think they had enough original stuff to counteract the part that it was a sequel.
Me: Well, in a sense, she gets lost at the very beginning. So then, her parents are trying to find her, but she is the one who ultimately finds her way back.
LS: Right, and I didn’t feel that it was a ripoff, I didn’t feel bored like that. So yeah, I was cool with it.
Me: Yeah, I think the story had enough original things to say. Oh, and finally, I skipped this question, but I think this is an interesting one. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t have a disability, how did it make you think about interacting with someone who does?
LS: Well, her disability makes it very hard for people to be patient with her, because she’ll forget that she met them, or that they’re helping her or something. And I think it shows, because she’s the main character, just how we need to be patient with those kind of people, and how they can’t help it, that just is a disability they have, and how it just really helps them if we deal with that calmly.
Me: Yeah, and I think it explores the pain of having something like that, that you constantly have to tell people about. You know, she has her thing that she’s practiced, “Hi, I’m Dory, and I suffer from short-term memory loss…” And it shows you that from both sides I think. So Hank, of course, frequently loses patience with her.
LS: He’s kind of that kind of oc-… er, septopus.
Me: Exactly. And even Marlin loses patience with her, even though he’s her really good friend and he knows her well!
LS: Right, but it’s kind of funny, because then she loses her temper with Hank at one point and starts talking about how he has three hearts, so he should be nicer.
Me: Yeah, exactly. So, I think in the end, it really gives you a sense of compassion.
Me: And I think that’s the purpose of all good art.
Me: I think good art provokes compassion. And on that note, I think that’s a good place to stop. Thank you very much for doing this interview with me! I had a lot of fun at the theater with you!
LS: Yes, I did too! Can’t wait for the next Pixar movie to come out.
Me: Oh yeah, we’re totally doing this for Incredibles 2.
LS: Uh, yeah!
Me: Ha! All right, thank you.
LS: All right, you’re welcome!