21 August 2016

A Fish Out Of Water

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I was once working in a pub as four blokes in their mid-fifties were sat around ranting to each other about the problems with the youth of today. “You're in your twenties, aren't you” one of them eventually said to me, “I mean- you lot... I bet you can't even put your foot on this ceiling?!” There's a lot that you can slag my generation off for and so I'll admit that this criticism took me a little by surprise. “Obviously I can't”, I answered whilst pulling my best 'you're a fucking tit' face, “but I bet you can't either!” I don't know if people in his day found that walking around on their hands was a more efficient way to get around, but I was certainly intrigued by his declaration of, “actually... I fucking can”. “Go on then” I challenged, whilst excitedly preparing for the fact that on this shift I was about to get paid to watch on old man break his fucking back. It was at this point that the guy simply reached down to what turned out to be his prosthetic leg, popped it off, reached up, touched the foot against the ceiling and began to laugh. I know people don't like to hear it but sometimes disabled people aren't just victims. Sometimes disabled people can be knobheads as well.

Unsurprisingly, Pixar's Finding Dory is the sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo and follows the latest adventure of everybody's favourite female fish. Well, other than the top half of Splash's Daryl Hannah anyway. A year on from the events of the previous film, Dory has suddenly found herself capable of accessing some vague memories that hint towards the location of her lost parents. Oh, and this is significant because if you've not seen the first movie then Dory suffers from an inability to form short-term memories. Essentially, this sequel is like a children's version of Memento but with a lot more sea-creatures and a lot less of John G murdering and raping anybodies wife. So Dory goes off on her own in search of her parents with Nemo and his father Marlon in hot pursuit of her. Presumably once they get to her they intend to convince her to give up her mission of finding her family on the grounds that it's completely far-fetched and there's always 'plenty more fish in the sea'.

The problem is that Dory's adventure has gotten her trapped inside a Marine Biology Lab with the two clownfish unable to get to her. It's worth noting however that in the original version of the film, this location was actually conceived to be one of those SeaWorld-like marine parks. However, post all of the Black Fish controversies, they decided to go for something a little less immoral and that sadly wouldn't require them to animate a killer whale being wanked off by its trainer. It therefore seems a wise decision on Pixar's part to change location even if that has therefore removed the intriguing proposition of seeing how Dory would navigate a tank in which the resident Orca had a history of stripping intruders naked and then tearing their cocks off. Plus if Dory was needing help in tracking somebody down and therefore sought the advice of a bunch of crazies trapped behind a wall of plastic glass, then this sequel would probably be at risk of ripping off The Silence Of The fucking Lambs.

It's in this conscientiousness towards real-life issues however that I think Finding Dory really elevates itself above the majority of family films that get released. In fact, isn't the only other one out now Nine Lives? A film in which Kevin Spacey gets turned into a cat. Wow. With it presumably providing easy money, I think the only thing that we learn from that is that Spacey really needs to stop getting mugged in 'discreet' London parks whilst 'walking his dog' at 4:30 in the morning. Because that's definitely what he was doing... Finding Dory has an obviously eco-friendly message but presents it in an effectively subtle way. So instead of having Dory turn to the children watching and say, “please stop your Mummy and Daddy from buying plastic bags and killing me”, it instead simply presents the ocean as the shit-tip that it is. So at one point there's a chase scene through what appears to be our dumped industrial waste in which a squid ends up getting trapped. Not only does this allow the message to sink in without it being rammed down our throats but it probably provided a great opportunity for product placement. “Oh no, Dory is going to choke to death on that plastic ring-tie thing that holds beers together. And not just any beer.. but Budweiser. The tastiest most delicious king of beers. What a lucky, lucky fish!”

This subtle tastefulness regarding its eco-message also carries on to the main selling point of the movie, which is of course Dory herself, and the fact that she is essentially suffering from a mental disability. Although if I had a condition in which I was able to forget most of my family existed then I'm not sure that I'd be too bothered. Generally when a film features a character that's in some way handicapped then that'll be the focus point of the story. So Still Alice is about a woman with alzheimer's, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is about a man with locked-in syndrome, and Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie is about a man with a Simple Jack brain and a really rapey face. Finding Dory however is about the adventure that the fish goes on to find her parents with her condition simply being something that she has to cope with. Like the one footed, middle-aged bloke in the pub, Dory is a fish that may have been afflicted with a disability, but it's absolutely not a state of being that defines her. In the same way that he was just a normal guy that presumably felt ripped off every time he had to buy a pair of shoes, Dory too is just a normal fish. A normal fish with a loveable personality, an ingenious sense of ingenuity, and a pretty fucking impressive grasp on the English language.. all things considered.

By having the adventure as the main thrust of the story, the film really does do a lot of good in emphasising the 'people' part of the phrase 'disabled people'. We get glimpses of the young Dory being raised and how her parents dealt with her and, as much as they clearly find it a struggle, it's obvious that their unconditional love prevent her from ever being a burden. Nor does it hurt that Pixar have made the young fishes eyes so fucking huge that they stab straight into the 'that fish is so cute I want to donate any of my own organs to help it' part of my brain... pretty sure that's a part of the brain anyway. And the same is obviously also true of me and the guy in the pub, with his easily acceserisable gimp-stump. I mean, he's not having my foot obviously.. but I didn't think he was a tit because he could take one of his own off, but simply because at the time I thought he was being a tit. Along with Sulu's equally casually outing in Star Trek Beyond, it's nice to see that the Summer blockbusters are finally coming to terms with the fact that most humans are three-dimensional creatures. With the exception of somebody like Piers Morgan of course. I'm pretty sure he really is just the smug, punchable, twat that he appears to be.

However although there is a completely adult and tragic undercurrent beneath the surface of Finding Dory, that's not to say that the movie wasn't fucking hilarious and enjoyable throughout too. There's an Octopus character that's a thing of both animated and comic genius, and it's hard not to enjoy Dominic West and Idris Elba's rock-hogging seals. I don't know if that was intended to be a little reunion for those two or if it's simply the fact that the cast of The Wire are like rats and seem to get into fucking everything these days. There's also a bit in which Dory and the Octopus find themselves being grabbed by a load of little bastard children before the Octopus sort-of inky-shits himself that I thought was fun. Pretty sure they go through a passage called 'Pokers Cove' in that scene too which was a coincidence because Pokers Cove is what I've always referred to a woman's vagina as. It was even more of a coincidence considering that this lead directly to what I can only describe as a very desperate and fishy clam.

This might not be Pixar's best ever movie, and you can certainly argue that they do rely on a story in which the main characters get lost quite a bit. If the company hasn't hired a therapist to help its story creators get over whatever fucking abandonment issues they clearly have then perhaps it might be about time to start thinking about it. You could also be incredibly pedantic and point out how lucky it is that every bit of water that Dory ends up in is correct for her species. At one point she jumps into a bottle that a van driver had been drinking out of and it doesn't seem to poison her at all. Strange that the driver would have been enjoying some slightly heated salt water but I guess weirder things have happened. I'm also pretty sure that Octopuses aren't as good at turning invisible as the one in this is, either. Although if they are then that might explain what James Bond's ridiculous car was made out of in Die Another Day. However none of that detracts from the fact Finding Dory was a brilliant movie and that had a more positive message than it needed too to make money. Plus if those little niggles bother you in a film about talking fish then I think that you're guilty of a level of pedantry that can only be solved by a swift kick to the nads by a man with a soft rubber foot. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.