Directed by: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Eugene Levy, Diane Keaton, Kaitlin Olsen, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill, and Sigourney Weaver
When I was in the third grade I wandered away from my parents in a department store. Fearing they had left without me I went into the parking lot to look for them. Panic and fear immediately set in as I roamed the parking lot looking for anything that looked recognizable. It was an early, authentic moment of fear that led to a significant moment of relief and love when my parents found me.
In “Finding Nemo”, Pixar’s beloved 2003 film, a young clown fish named Nemo was lost in an immense ocean and left to fend for himself. Conquering fears, becoming independent, making difficult decisions, being confident, and understanding the importance of family were all themes utilized in the original film. “Finding Dory”, a charming and heartfelt if somewhat familiar and repetitive tale, explores many of these same themes except from the perspective of the lovable and comical Dory voiced by Ellen DeGeneres.
The film takes place about a year after the events of “Finding Nemo”. Dory is living with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in the corals. Marlin is still a nervous wreck, Nemo is still adventurous, and Dory is still dealing with short-term-memory-loss. However, she begins to remember more about her past, specifically the family that she lost. This leads Dory across the ocean and into an aquarium in search of her parents with Marlin and Nemo in tow to find her and new friends Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), a nearsighted shark, and Hank (Ed O’Neill), a grumpy octopus looking to escape to Cleveland, along to assist.
From the first moments of the film the directing team of Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane get you reacquainted with the quirks and charms of the characters while also offering some information about the past and how it has influenced Dory into the forgetful character we know. The setup becomes a little repetitious, Dory goes missing and an adventure to find her ensues. It’s basically the same execution from the original film but it also happens rather quickly getting the viewer into the location where a majority of the film takes place, an aquarium filled with an amusing array of environments and the recognizable voice of a famous actress.
This narrative shift was a welcome change; the inclusion of a new environment allows the film to build some necessary momentum that keeps everything in the story exciting, even if the exciting parts sometime stray beyond the scientific marine biology realms. Also the added animal characters, like a pair of sunbathing sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West but also an amazingly animated octopus named Hank voiced by Ed O’Neill, add some humorous moments and some sincere ones as well. Hank plays a great counterpart to Dory; his cranky attitude is consistently undercut by his growing concern for Dory’s plight. The themes of family and the dynamic relationship seen within families are woven throughout the interaction of the characters in the film. It’s never forcefully implied that these themes are key factors in composing the foundation of the story, but you can easily recognize it. Probably the best of the themes found within the film comes in the composition of Dory and Nemo, two characters dealing with being different from everyone else yet still displaying powerful traits that make them unique. It’s the most obvious of the themes but it is done exceptionally well, this is a quality that many Pixar films excel at over other animation studios.
“Finding Dory” is good film to take the family to. Kids may get a little squirmy with the 100-minute running time but there is more than enough excitement to attract their attention throughout the film. While it may not be as memorable as some of my favorite Pixar films, “Wall-E”, “Up”, and “Inside Out”, it is still a good sequel and will more than likely please fans of the original film.
3.50 out of 5.00