“Finding Dory” Review

Jun 19, 2016 | Films, Pixar, Reviews

Thirteen years after Finding Nemo, I was incredibly excited to finally see the continuation of this universe with Finding Dory. Reading various comments and opinions around the internet, there was a good amount of discussion on whether Nemo really needed a sequel at all, to which I’d thought, “Yes!”

Sequels can often be cash grabs, riding the coattails of the previous works’ effort and goodwill, and I definitely think Disney and Pixar have fallen into this trap. Monsters University comes to mind, even though I admittedly enjoyed it more than I did the original. I really loved Cars, but thought Cars 2 was an abomination. On the other hand, Pixar has also shown with the Toy Story series that when they’re committed to telling a good story, the results are brilliant.

So it made perfect sense that they would decide to revisit a world as vast as an ocean that contains infinite possibilities for characters that are as great as, or even better, than the ones we met in Nemo.

Dory was definitely scene-stealer in Nemo; her forgetfulness was a funny quirk and worked well seemingly because we got it in smaller doses from a secondary character. In less deft hands, we could have gotten a film that would feel a lot longer than its runtime and where the character trait would quickly become a tiresome shtick. But Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse brought new depths to Dory and treated this character with a lot of sensitivity and heart.

A lot has already been said about how Dory addresses disabilities, and they’re much better than anything I can come up with. Here are a few articles from USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, and Bustle that are fairly thoughtful and worth the read.

And (finally!) to the film itself: Finding Dory is another beautifully made film and a very worthy follow-up to Nemo. Beautiful visually, it also has a lovely story that puts a fresh twist on the “Finding” title. While Dory is on a quest to find her parents and Marlin and Nemo embark on this adventure with her and end up having to find her as well, Dory also “finds” herself, her sense of home and identity.

Dory’s quest to see where she comes from and reunite with her parents really rounds out this character. I couldn’t help thinking of the scene in Nemo, Dory asks Marlin not to abandon her because she has found “home” with him. This sequel really dives into that idea of finding home with family and also friends who become as loved as family.

While not as significant in this film, Marlin and Nemo are a great father-son duo. Marlin’s quest may have helped him overcome many of his fears, but personal development is an ongoing process and we get to see some of that as Nemo helps Marlin embrace Dory and learn that what seem like her weaknesses are actually her best assets and why she and Marlin are such great friends.

Of course, Dory gets much of its charm from its fantastic new characters. While the characters from Nemo were wonderful and I wouldn’t have minded returning to them, Destiny, Bailey, and Hank were all great new additions to the canon. Destiny, a friendly whale shark that suffers from near-sightedness is perfectly paired with Bailey, who is hilarious as he rediscovers his power of echolocation, the world’s most powerful glasses.

In spite of the marketing blitz behind Hank the Septopus, I didn’t quite know what to expect from him. But Hank was especially wonderful as Ed O’Neill always brings a lot of heart to gruff, rough-around-the-edges characters. There is definitely a sense that Hank, and even the other new characters, could be further developed if Pixar decides to expand upon this universe even more.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its flaws. While there is always a requirement of suspending disbelief when watching a movie featuring talking fish, they stretched my willingness to do so in this film with hijinks that got dangerously close to the type of ridiculousness from lesser studios. But it always brings things back to its strong story and beautiful animation so it never lost me completely.

While Dory doesn’t surpass Nemo, it is still a really good film in its own right and a worthy sequel to a brilliant film. It’s one that I look forward to having on Blu-ray so I can revisit the story again and again, as I did with the original.

If you’ve seen the film, please share your thoughts! Did you enjoy it or do you think they should stick with original stories? Any dislikes? Anything from the film you hope to see in the parks?

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