A few months ago, I was invited with a group of other journalists to participate in a press day for Disney and Pixar’s upcoming, highly-anticipated sequel film, Finding Dory, which included seeing never-before-seen footage from the film, and speaking with a number of the movie’s key creative team members, including director Andrew Stanton, producer Lindsey Collins, and more.
You can find my previous article about the event by clicking right here, and while a number of the aspects of the film, including the improved technology and story stood out to me, the thing that maybe surprised me the most both from the movie’s footage and the conversations with Stanton and co. afterwards, was how quickly I had already managed to fall in love with a number of the film’s new characters.
After the opening of the movie, and Stanton’s explanation behind his desire to make the sequel had won me over on the validity of the sequel’s existence in the first place, one of my biggest concerns with Finding Dory was how it might try to recapture the same adventurous feel of the original Nemo, with Dory running into new characters on her journey to find her family, without me ever wishing that they’d just show me more of the characters that I had already come to know and love over the past decade or so.
While the new cast features a number of exciting additions as well, there were three characters that struck me as not only the most engaging and humorous, but also the most likely to break out and become Pixar favorites. These included Kaitlin Olson’s Destiny, Ty Burrell’s Bailey, and Ed O’Neill’s Hank, the latter of whom you’ve probably already seen and heard a lot about from the film’s promotional trailers and images, and for good reason too.
Accompanying Dory for a majority of her journey in the Marine Biology Institute, Hank acts as a temperamental foil to Dory’s often kind-hearted and straightforward self, as the two work together to not only help the forgetful fish find her parents, but also for Hank to find a way into quarantine. In terms of casting, O’Neill was probably the perfect choice to voice the character, who manages to be both sweet and frustrating at the same time. The actor’s veteran comedic timing and dry voice, only helps to add to Hank’s overall stubbornness and desperation.
In addition to his role in the story though, the technical achievements behind Hank is alone worthy of some serious patting on the back from the animators over at Pixar, who were forced to animate a character like they never had before, thanks to Hank. Through an in-depth presentation dedicated to the character, we were shown each of the steps that the team took in creating the character, including his initial designs and animations – which were based somewhat off of the real life creatures themselves, but then also had to be created with the technical and character needs in mind.
This also included how Hank would talk, which after a few iterations, led to the character having his mouth on the bottom, which not only worked animation-wise, but also helped to give the character a kind of moustache, that his tentacles could rub and work with, as if he were twisting actual facial hair.
Then the team was forced to figure out how to animate the character, and more specifically, each of his tentacles at the same time, without them ever seeming out of place or inorganic, which meant creating kinds of joints in the tentacles themselves that would move both in a free, but also controlled fashion. It was only through several frustrated attempts at animating Hank’s introductory scene as well, that the animation team realized that they didn’t have to always show all of his tentacles at once at all times.
Sometimes, less is more:
Less of a focus was put on Bailey and Destiny during the press day, with only one brief moment of footage between the characters being shown, but from what I’ve seen (which was the characters’ introductions) it seems like Bailey and Destiny may be able to outshine even Dory and Hank, and go down as one of Pixar’s most humorous and fun onscreen duos.
Neighbors to each other at the aquarium, the way that Destiny, a whale shark with a bit of a sight problem, and Bailey, a beluga whale with a constant migraine (cause get it? He has a big bump on his head…), interacted with each other and showed each other the same kind of annoyance as that of an old married couple, left me dying to see more of their comedic banter by the time the clip was over. Something that I even asked Stanton himself about later in the night, which he promised me I would get to see plenty more of, much to my satisfaction.
Bailey’s overall role in the story is still a bit more mysterious and vague than the others, but it seems like Destiny may be more than just a fellow fish that Dory runs into along the way, with a history between the two characters already hinted at in both the trailers and the footage I was shown. The way Olson can transition from sweet to annoyed by changing to a monotone is something that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans have been aware of for years now, and it was refreshing to see her comedy bring that same kind of life to Destiny here, especially when she’s sharing a conversation with the almost always annoyed or unimpressed Burrell as Bailey.
I’m not saying that Bailey and Destiny will be your kids’ new favorite comedy duo by any means, but I am saying that you may want to keep your eyes peeled when their stuffed animals go on sale this summer. Just in case.
From a narrative standpoint alone, both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory are modified versions of roadtrip movies, as the characters journey into different, unexpected environments and meet new, memorable characters along the way to their inevitable destination. When Nemo nailed that aspect in such a stunning manner as well, with characters that kids and adults still quote to this day, then the bar for the sequel’s characters can be made unspeakably high. From where I’m sitting (I guess swimming would probably be more fitting) though, it seems like Stanton and co. have been able to pay homage to the original film and its characters well here, while also introducing an entirely new gang of misfits for a new generation of kids to fall in love with once again.
Finding Dory is set to hit theatres on June 17th.
Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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