Blu-ray Review: Finding Dory

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There are enough collectors of Pixar Animation Studios films that Finding Dory, the $1 billion (worldwide) grossing blockbuster sequel to Finding Nemo, arrives on home video pre-sold. Is anyone actually waiting for a review to tell them that Buena Vista's Dory Blu-ray is spectacular? Well, it is pretty spectacular in terms of audio/visual presentation. Interesting special features, too. Currently available on Blu-ray (also Blu-ray 3D, standard DVD, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere), it's difficult to imagine any Pixar junkies being disappointed by this stellar release. All the vividly realistic textures and bold colors we've come to expect from Pixar have made the jump from cinemas to TV with ease. There's also a DTS-HD MA 7.1 that delivers on all levels as well. 

Finding Dory 2.jpg Extra content is generous, with supplements spread over two BDs. The astounding short film Piper, which preceded Dory in theaters during its theatrical run, is thankfully included. This little gem about a baby sandpiper (directed by Alan Barillaro) runs only six minutes but is basically worth the price of admission all on its own. It will be positively stunning if Piper doesn't snag an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short.

Writer-director Andrew Stanton is joined by co-director Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins for an audio commentary. As with so many feature-length commentaries, I initially planned to sample this track to get a feel for it. But it's so detailed, packed with well-told production anecdotes, I wound up listening to the entire thing. While many commentaries aren't interesting enough to justify their inclusion (I've given up on too many to count), this is a very welcome inclusion that will leave viewers with a greatly expanded appreciation for the film. 
 
Finding Dory 1.jpg Disc one also contains seven featurettes ranging from two to nine minutes (the longest, "The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar," deals with the challenges of animating the octopus character and is the best piece here). Disc two is dominated by a five-part "Behind the Scenes" series (that totals a rather skimpy 16 minutes or so) and, much better, a whopping 50 minutes of deleted scenes. The scenes (and, in some cases, series of scenes) are mostly in-progress (i.e. in a rough, unfinished state) and are introduced by director Stanton. This, along with the audio commentary, is the meat of the extras package. There are also four "Living Aquariums" (long, looped virtual fish tanks) that will be familiar to anyone who own the Finding Nemo Blu-ray (I'm not sure who lets these things play in the background for hours, but they're there).

As for the movie itself, the plot concerns memory-impaired fish Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) struggling to locate her parents. Unlike the main guy in Memento, Dory can't simply write down things as reminders. Her short-term memory is that bad though, as she forgets everything that happens only moments after the fact. She has been away from her parents for some time when a fleeting memory reminds her of them. Dory sets out with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) to hopefully reunite with them. 
 
rsz_finding_dory_bd.jpg Much of this is charming and, of course, the animation itself is always fun to watch. Where it began to lose me was during an increasingly silly climax involving Hank the octopus (Ed O’Neill) driving a truck. But these hijinks didn't likely bother any of Dory's younger audience members, so maybe it's not worth griping about just how over-the-top things become. Still, it feels like the filmmakers didn't know when enough was enough and kept piling on one perilous situation after another as Dory and company move forward in their search. And Dory's memory issues are dealt with very lightly, when in fact they represent a very serious (and terrifying) medical issue. There's nothing cute about the inability to recall events that just occurred. 
 
Finding Dory 3.jpg Still, after viewing the supplements and learning more about the Herculean efforts that went into Finding Dory those concerns feel almost beside the point. This is, after all, lighthearted family entertainment. No Finding Nemo fan or Pixar buff in general needs me (or anyone, for that matter) to tell me to tell them that Dory belongs in their collection.


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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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