Movie Review: Finding Dory
Release Date: 6/17/2016
Running Time: 103 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Cast (Voices): Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy
In 2003, Disney and Pixar released Finding Nemo to universal acclaim and record box office numbers. That success made a sequel inevitable, and after 13 years, it has arrived. Instead of sending clownfish Marlin (the voice of Albert Brooks) to find his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) again, amnesia-afflicted blue tang Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) goes on a journey to find her family in Finding Dory.
Picking up a year after Finding Nemo, Dory has become a part of Marlin and Nemo's family. Memories come back to Dory of her parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton), whom she was separated from when she was a child. Dory pursues finding them, with Marlin and Nemo tagging along to ensure her safety, but her quest takes her to a marine life institute, where their goal is "rescue, rehabilitate and release." There, she befriends Hank the octopus (Ed O'Neill) and reconnects with her old friend Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), a nearsighted whale shark, and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale.
Finding Dory is a chance for the people who fell in love with the characters 13 years ago to reconnect with them. Like Pixar's best movies, Dory has a strong emotional foundation. The flashbacks to Dory's childhood, where her parents take care of and worry about the future of their daughter, are heartbreaking. A character previously shown as comic relief is made tragic. While humor dominates much of Dory, the journey to find her family keeps us interested.
On the downside, the theme of finding your family makes Dory somewhat of a retread of Nemo. The sequel is also more preoccupied with chase sequences so that little kids don't become restless. But even though Dory lacks the ingredients that would elevate it near the top of Pixar's classics, the animation is the best from Pixar yet. The attention to detail in the ocean sequences is impeccable. The 3D sub-charge is worth investing a few dollars more to feel immersed in the experience.
Finding Dory is not an instant classic like Finding Nemo. The sequel has arrived when Pixar is no longer the undisputed champion of animation. Disney has given them a run for their money with Frozen and Zootopia. Finding Dory will delight everyone who loved Finding Nemo and allow them to forgive the feeling of déjà vu. Why find much fault in a movie with a climax in which an octopus drives a truck?
Proceeding Finding Dory is a Pixar short called "Piper," about a baby bird who overcomes his fear of waves. Stay around for Dory's end credits for a funny tag that brings back characters from Nemo that are otherwise absent from the sequel.