Finding Dory Director: Andrew Stanton
Screenwriter: Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olsen, and Ed O’Neill
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | 103 Minutes
Release Date: June 17th, 2016
Sequels are no longer a rarity over at Pixar. While most of their films do not necessarily warrant one, they have proven that they do not make sequels just to cash in. It’s through years (approximately four) of research and perfecting the script that they can give us something that is more than satisfying than we could ever expect. So imagine our surprise when it was announced that Pixar would be following up Finding Nemo, 13 years later no less, with Finding Dory, a heartwarming and touching film that has a truly powerful message.
Our full review below (spoilers!).
Now, Finding Dory isn’t necessarily a misleading title. She isn’t lost the same way that Nemo was in the first film. Here, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has to find more than just her parents. Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) will join her on her journey home. But that is only what we have seen in the marketing. In fact, there is a little bit more to it than what we have seen in the past.
Dory hasn’t lost any of her charm that she had in the first film. In fact, we get to see how she got that cheery and optimistic personality despite her inherent flaw of short-term memory loss. Her debilitating struggle goes as far back as when she was an infant, with her parents Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton), helping her cope with her disability by instilling the mantra “just keep swimming.” She can’t seem to do anything right, no matter how hard she tries. Ultimately, this frustrates Charlie and Jenny, who fear that she will be unable to take care of herself. But slowly she learns that just because she can’t do one thing one way, doesn’t mean that she can’t do it at all. It’s just as her parents said “just keep swimming” and you will find a way. That’s where the kicker comes in. The film isn’t so much about Finding Dory but more about Finding Dory, in a sense that Dory must accept who she is and use that mantra in a whole new way.
The script written by Staton and Strouse really hammers home the idea that we should not let our shortcomings weigh us down. Dory isn’t the only one who is flawed. On her journey to find her parents she is tagged and taken into the Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center for sick or injured fish. It is there that she meets, Hank (Ed O’Neill), a cranky and grumpy octopus with a missing tentacle, which as Dory puts it, makes him a septopus. Hank wants to escape his enclosure but doesn’t want to go back into the ocean. Instead, he makes a deal with her. He will take her to her parents in exchange for that tag. But there are some areas even an octopus can’t reach, so swimming through the pipes she is reunited with Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), a whale shark and old friend of Dory’s, who happens to be very nearsighted. Her neighbor is Bailey (Ty Burell), a beluga whale whose sonar doesn’t work properly. Little does Dory know, she helps everyone overcome their own shortcomings.
Of course, Pixar balances out some of the emotionally heavy parts of the film with plenty of humor. And everyone does their part in this film to do that. A trio of sea lions, played by Idris Elba, Dominic West, and Torbin Xan Bullock, are a welcomed addition to the franchise as they provide hilarious moments in the film. And make sure to stick to the end of the credits to see a very welcome sight.
The technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the release of Finding Nemo, and the animation is absolutely gorgeous. Lighting is hard enough to get right in an animated film, so have it reflect, refract, and bounce the way it does in water was nothing short of stunning. It’s almost hard to believe that the textures are animated.
There is the issue of the third act where it goes a little bit overboard. You seriously have to suspend your beliefs as our characters do something so crazy and outlandish, it kind of takes away from all the emotional build up the film worked so hard to create. But once that’s over, Finding Dory finds a way to ground itself.
It’s no surprise that Pixar got to where they are now. Finding Dory proves that there are some films that do deserve sequels, and in a way works on its own, so you don’t have to worry about watching Finding Nemo to understand what is going on in Finding Dory.
Pixar’s animated short, Piper, is a nice way to start the movie off, as the beauty of a sunny sandy beach really shines through as our tiny friend learns to do things on her own through experience. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. Just know that Piper should be in the running for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards next year.
Overall, there will be those who differ on Finding Dory being funnier but not as emotionally heavy as Finding Nemo, but we can all agree that it is a film worth watching.