For the past 21 years, Pixar has delivered incredible movie after incredible movie. However, outside of the Toy Story franchise, none of the sequels have been very satisfying – sorry Cars 2 and Monsters University. Pixar decided to tackle sequels one more time with Finding Dory, a follow up to 2003’s Finding Nemo.
A short time after her journey across the ocean to rescue Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) begins having flashbacks about her forgotten childhood. All she can remember is her family being from “the jewel of Morro Bay”. Dory decides to make another journey across the ocean, but this time it’s to find her parents. Of course Dory is accompanied by Nemo and his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) for her underwater quest.
Their journey takes them to the Marine Life Institute where they meet a cast of hilarious characters – a moody octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), a whale shark with bad depth perception named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and two wise cracking sea lions voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West.
In true Pixar fashion, Finding Dory is packed full of emotion, humor, and important life lessons. For the record, nobody gets emotion out of its audience the way a Pixar film does…nobody. Writer and co-director Andrew Stanton doesn’t deliver a screenplay as sharp as Nemo’s, but he still knows the right moments to tug at the audience’s heart strings. He turns a cartoon about fish on a road trip into a charming tale about family, belonging, and self doubt.
Nemo’s journey was about a lost child coming home, while Dory’s journey is an introspective one. During Dory’s search for identity, she’s betrayed by her own memory. As happy as Dory is, she constantly struggles with self doubt and a nagging feeling that she doesn’t belong. Her trip to the Marine Life Institute isn’t just to find her family, it’s to find herself.
And Dory’s not alone; Marlin and Hank have personal journeys as well.
What else is there to say about Pixar’s animation? They’re the best in the business and the animation in Finding Dory is no different. It’s so colorful and vibrant; the animation alone makes this a fun watch.
The best animation comes via the short film shown before, Piper. Like most of Pixar’s shorts, Piper tells a fascinating story with very little time and zero dialogue. The animation is incredible, from the grains of sand to the bubbles in the water, the animation looks very real. It will take most people a second to realize they’re watching animation.
Finding Dory isn’t Finding Nemo. It isn’t Toy Story or Inside Out. It is one of the best sequels Pixar’s made. It has all the emotion and comedy routinely seen in Pixar films. It will suffer from the comparison to Nemo and other Pixar movies, but that doesn’t stop Finding Dory from being another fantastic animated film.