Finding Dory Review: An unforgettable journey that will swim right into your heart.
Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory is the long awaited sequel to the smash hit Finding Nemo from 2003. Throughout the years, I have revisited Finding Nemo and can comfortably say its one of the best films in the Pixar library and sits right next to the Toy Story trilogy on the shelf. Like millions of others, I have been looking forward to this sequel for a very long time. Thirteen long years after the original, Dory, Nemo, Marlin and plenty of new fish friends make their way to the big screen. Does Dory make her way to the surface or does it get lost in a sea of mediocre sequels?
Finding Dory takes place approximately one year after the events of Finding Nemo. The film opens on a flashback sequence that shows Dory as an adorable baby fish that gets separated from her family at a very young age. Dory remembers this and immediately wants to find them. Knowing that she can’t go on this journey alone, Marlin and Nemo join Dory on her quest to the Jewel of Morro Bay in California to track down her parents. Once they arrive, Dory gets separated and must rely on some new friends and herself to track down her parents.
One of my biggest fears when going into Finding Dory was that the film would simply recycle jokes from the original and not have enough story to standout on its own. I am beyond happy to report that Finding Dory tells its own unique story and manages to tell it so well that this could have easily worked as a standalone film as well as a sequel. Finding Dory doesn’t rely on knowing the original or any of the characters but instead tells Dory’s story without relying on nostalgia. For those aware of the original, Dory is still suffering from short term memory loss and while the film is light-hearted and humorous, the story being told embraces the idea of what it is like to live with a disability. In fact, one of the film’s most impressive elements, is that Dory is not the only fish with a disability this time around. While searching for her family, Dory meets Bailey, a beluga whale that has issues with his sonar skills and Destiny, a whale shark, who is near-sided and constantly bumps into walls. The story showcases that Dory isn’t alone and that many others have obstacles that stand in their way. The film showcases that you should always strive to overcome those obstacles to achieve your goals.
Dory is just as lovable as she was in Finding Nemo. What is so refreshing about this film is that we learn so much more about Dory as character. Yes, we know she’s funny and suffers from short term memory loss but this story we gives her a lot of backstory. We see Dory as more than a funny side kick this time around. She showcases real emotions while dealing with all her shortcomings. A lot of credit has be given to the writing as well as the wonderful voice-work of Ellen DeGeneres. This is the winning combination that makes Dory so incredibly lovable even with all her flaws. In a lot of ways, you sometimes forget that Dory is a fish because she really connects with what its like to be a human being with the issues that she is facing in the film.
Nemo and Marlin are supporting characters this time around but they do serve a purpose. I love that the script was ballsy enough to showcase how hard it is to deal with someone with a disability at times. At one point in the film, Marlin gets really upset with Dory and yells at her stating that she always manages to screw things up. I think this is such an honest depiction of how hard it is sometimes to remain calm while working with someone with a disability. It depicts how easily it is to get upset and say things out of frustration. I love that we have gotten to a point with animated films especially in Disney and Pixar where they address important themes that can turn into conversations later.Every character in Finding Dory is wonderful especially the new ones. I loved Diane Lane and Eugene Levy as Dory’s mom and dad. They were the perfect choices to voice Dory’s parents. Just with their voices and a few short scenes together, the story naturally conveys that Dory is without a doubt a mix of both her parents. Another new character that I loved was the passive aggressive octopus Hank voiced by Ed O’ Neill. Hank is the sidekick to Dory and is a polar opposite in personality. Hank is very grumpy and doesn’t want to be bothered yet is very wise. He works so well as a character because he is unlike any other character in the film and offsets Dory’s optimistic persona.
Bailey and Destiny are equally tied for second place as my favorite of the new characters. I loved these two because as I mentioned above they are flawed like Dory but also have such great back and forth banter with one another. Ty Burrell and Kaitlin Olson just like Keaton and Levy, are the perfect choices to voice these characters and every moment they come on-screen they steal that scene. I just love the brother and sister chemistry between these two and how the film managed to have these supporting characters grow even with only 30 minutes of screen-time.
My favorite of all the new characters were the three Sea Lions; Fluke (Idris Elba), Rudder (Dominic West), and Gerald (Torbin Xan Bullock). The sea lions are silly characters but thankfully they don’t sound like rednecks like the characters in Cars and Good Dinosaur. I just loved how weird and random these sea lions were yet still managed to serve a purpose and even introduced another silly yet crucial character; a bird named Becky who helps transport Marlin and Nemo. The sea lions are lazy and serve as plucky comedy relief. Fluke and Rudder seem to have an issue with Gerald so the back and forth about keeping Gerald off the rock was pretty amusing. All in all, Finding Dory is a great film that stands on its own. It is smart, funny, and heartfelt. The film opens strong but I would be lying if after the initial setup there is about 15 minutes where the film feels like a complete rehash of the original. Those 15 minutes had me worried but after that the film gets a lot better and even manages to surpasses the original in someways. Finding Dory supersedes its predecessor by adding depth to Dory, great emotional moments, and several new characters that will surely stand the test of time.
Once again, Finding Dory proves why Pixar even with a few misfires is still one of the best animation studios in the world. They are amazing storytellers that create memorable characters which are relatable to adults and children alike. Finding Dory is yet another amazing entry in the Pixar library and one that will be loved by fans of the original as well as newbies. I don’t think that any other animation film this summer will top that laughs and heart that Dory captures. Finding Dory may very well be the must see family film of the summer.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Finding Dory is a 8 out of 10.