Finding Dory Is A Sequel Worthy Of The Pixar Name.
Writer:Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, and Bob Peterson.
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Hayden Rolence, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell and Sigourney Weaver.
To say that Pixar’s clout has decreased is an understatement. The once seemingly perfect Disney-owned animation studios output has become increasingly spotty over the last few years.
And when the trailers dropped for the Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory, that reputation didn’t improve. At first blush, the movie appeared to be just another sequel full of awkward call-backs to the original, with this one simply starring a former side character.
Fortunately, there is good news: Finding Dory will join the ranks of the best Pixar sequels. It is a movie full of joy, hope and humor. The plot is essentially the same as the original, yes, but that’s not too much of a detractor. It’s actually great to get to spend some more time with these character old and new.
After an adorable and tragic flashback, we catch up with everyone a year after the events of Finding Nemo. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is now living next to Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in the reef. While she’s still plagued by short term memory loss, she’s making the best of her life — until her memory is somehow triggered, she remembers her parents and becomes determined to find them.
While there are indeed some retreads — Dory’s “whale speak” or her “just keep swimming” song both appear — they are employed here as parts of her past that she slowly remembers through her quest. And thankfully, apart from a brief appearance by old fan favorites Crush and Squirt, the movie mostly focuses on a whole cast of new characters.
The standout of the new bunch is Ed O’Neill’s cantankerous octopus, Hank, who serves as a Marlin facsimile here. Their chemistry adds a lot of fun back and forth — and, frankly, an animated camouflaging octopus is just really awesome to see. Ditto for the whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and Beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell). In short, there are plenty of new characters to love.
What really makes this movie wonderful, though, is its positive and accommodating attitude. Almost all of the fish we meet suffer from some physical or mental disability, and there are some truly heartbreaking scenes of Dory in despair. But, on the whole, the movie shows each of these characters overcoming their obstacles by embracing what makes them unique and by relying on friends and family for support. In such a bleak world, this message feels especially necessary.
The movie is not without its flaws. Most notably, Marlin and Nemo aren’t handled particularly well; for the most part, they stay separated from Dory, which usually wouldn’t be an issue, except that the whole point of their story is for Marlin to essentially re-learn the morals of the last movie. That time could’ve been better spent with the other, new characters.
Aside from that, though, Finding Dory is a wonderful sequel. It’s full of heart, it manages to avoid most sequel pitfalls and it expands upon its the universe. It is a shining example of how great Pixar can be when it’s on the top of its game.