Finding Dory

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Idris Elba, Ty Burrell, Sigourney Weaver, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kate McKinnon, Dominic West, and Bill Hader

In 2003, Finding Nemo debuted to critical acclaim and international box office success.  Finding Nemo was an innovative film in which Pixar took animation to new heights.  This week, Finding Dory hits theaters and picks up the tale six months after the original film.

Lovable Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is now living with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in their tight-knit community under the sea.  Dory has suffered from short-term memory loss her entire life.  It has not stopped her from making friends and getting into one adventure after another.  However, recently, Dory has begun to have nightmares, and she starts having memories of her parents.  Once Dory realizes that she has a family, she sets off to find her parents.

Marlin and Nemo accompany Dory on her quest.  As Dory retraces her steps, she remembers that her family lived in a sanctuary/aquarium (sponsored by Sigourney Weaver) off the coast of California.  Dory, Marlin and Nemo journey to California to find Dory’s parents.  Once they arrive at the aquarium, they immediately become separated, and the friends must somehow find each other and avoid the dangers of the aquarium.  They all make new friends, including the grumpy but lovable “septopus” Hank (Ed O’Neill).  The film follows Dory, Marlin and Nemo and their misadventures.

Pixar does it again.  Finding Dory is a fun, heartfelt sequel.  The animation is vibrant and colorful; the film is action-packed; and the jokes and quips are fast-paced.  The voice actors also deliver great performances.  Ellen DeGeneres is the focus of the film, so Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence are less prominent.  However, Ed O’Neill’s grumpy septopus is a wonderful addition to the cast and his character is a definite scene stealer.

Finding Dory
strikes a different chord than the first film.  Dory’s short-term memory loss was a running joke in Finding Nemo.  However, in Finding Dory, the writers focus on the practical and sad impact of Dory’s mental disability.  Not only does her memory loss make it difficult for Dory to interact with others, but she forgets where she is going, what she is talking about, and ultimately, she forgot her parents and her home.  Dory is akin to Drew Barrymore’s character in the bittersweet film 50 First Dates.  Dory is special.  The message of the film is that Dory’s disability ultimately does not limit her but allows her to view the world in a different way, experience life to the fullest, and touch the hearts of all of those around her.    

Finding Dory
is not without its flaws however.  In Finding Nemo, Pixar introduced audiences to aquatic life in a completely novel fashion.  The brilliant animation gave us a tiny glimpse at the beauty of ocean life.  It would not be hyperbole to state that Finding Nemo impacted animation in the way that Avatar impacted 3D. Finding Dory, on the other hand, spends little time at sea and takes the story to land and man-made aquariums and sanctuaries.  I love Sigourney Weaver as much as the next child of the ‘80s.  However, Weaver’s aquarium simply cannot match the majesty of the sea.  As a result, Finding Dory is not as visually remarkable as Finding Nemo.  While I appreciate the narrative that takes Dory’s tale to land, the choice does not bring anything new to audiences.

Finding Dory
earns a 0.03% rating.  Enjoy a tropical wine cooler with this one.