Finding Dory Review

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“How come every animated movie is doing a sequel except for Finding Nemo?” Ellen DeGeneres for years has been campaigning Disney/Pixar to create a sequel to the ultra successful Finding Nemo. It wasn’t until April 2, 2013, that Ellen DeGeneres got her wish and announced the sequel to Finding Nemo, titled Finding Dory. Unfortunately, sequels that take more than a decade to arrive in theaters usually end up being terrible. From Zoolander 2 to Dumb and Dumber To, the list goes on and on. Does Finding Dory fall under the same curse as all the other failed sequels?

Absolutely not, I mean this is Pixar after all. Much like its predecessor, Finding Dory is a heartwarming film set to inspire those with special needs. It may not be Pixar’s best film but it’s probably their most relevant.

Finding Dory follows Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a forgetful blue tang fish, as she finally remembers a long lost childhood memory. As she remembers the parents that she lost a long time ago, Dory, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) must go on a journey to the “Jewel of Morro Bay, California.” Once there, Dory meets a cast of friends that’ll help her reunite with the parents she lost so long ago.

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Even though Finding Dory is as hilariously entertaining as it is, it’s also an enormously emotional film as well. This is what Pixar does best as time and time again they’re able to create a film that both children and adults can enjoy. Andrew Stanton wrote a script that isn’t just about Dory finding her parents, it also deals with the world of trauma, loss, and existential dread. Much like Toy Story, Dory doesn’t try to hide the very human concerns that are found in these cast of aquatic characters. The film’s comedy is not as sharp as the original, replaced by a looser sense of comedy, but these schticks are able to combat the darker themes presented in the film.

Stanton also does a great job molding Dory to not be as useless as people thinks she is. In Nemo, Dory’s forgetfulness was often used as the film’s comedic relief, but in Finding Dory, her short-term memory loss plunges us into a story where her forgetfulness is now a concern. Her insistence on overcoming her disability is both heartwarming and sad to watch. However, it’s that steep uphill climb that made Nemo work and that’s what makes Finding Dory work too.

In addition, the story plays out as a more constrained version of Nemo’s long journey. It’s a more concise and focused script and it doesn’t take long before we reach the “Jewel of Morro Bay, California” and the film’s pacing benefits from it. The one thing, though, about the story is how Hank is completely over-powered in the film. He may move the story along but he achieves so many extraordinary feats that it’s incredibly infeasible. It’s the type of thing where you have to give up all skepticism and just accept what you see on screen.

The CGI is as equally important to Pixar as the story is and Finding Dory further shows why Pixar is still the best animation studio out there. The water effects have improved from the already impressive effects in The Good Dinosaur. The seafoam and light reflections are top notch. The textures, facial animation, and fur are also incredibly detailed as well. Also, the film is still as colorful and vibrant as you remember. Finding Dory reminds you just how beautiful sea life can be.

It’s been 13 years since we’ve seen Ellen DeGeneres voice Dory, but it feels as if she’s been doing this role for years. Playing Dory seems to fit like a glove to her and it shows. Just don’t think that this isn’t a Cars 2 scenario where Dory becomes irritating as the film rolls on. DeGeneres brings a lot of emotional depth to the character with the way she’s able to go from joy to panic so easily. This essentially makes the character even more endearing to fans.

Albert Brooks is still the same overly cautious clownfish that we remember in Nemo, and like Ellen, he’s able to seamlessly return to this role. Newcomers Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, and Ed O’Neill are all fantastic additions to the film. If it were not for them, the film wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it was. Their performances have a certain charm to them that’s quite captivating. Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton provide a loving and heartbreaking performance as Dory’s parents, Charlie and Jenny.

Overall, Finding Dory is an entertaining emotional rollercoaster ride that has an incredible message. Despite some of the film’s more unbelievable moments, it’s one of those rare films that both entertains and inspires. Similar to how Drax inspired a kid with autism, Dory is a film that’ll inspire those living with special needs, and also to those who mean the world to them. Pixar has given those people a character that they can look up to.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
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