By Laurie Coker
Thirteen years ago, when Finding Nemo hit theaters, nothing popped to indicate that ditzy, memory challenged Dory was lost. Now, Disney and Pixar bring back old favorites and new creature characters to offer the backstory to one of animated movies’ most beloved and likable characters. Finding Dory is a visually stunning animated masterpiece that will please all ages.
Picking up with Dory, Nemo and the ever-neurotic Marlin, Finding Dory, follows the trio on an adventure to find Dory’s family. While thirteen actual years have happened, only a year (in movie time) has transpired since Nemo was found, but more have passed, since Dory lost her family – the culprit – her dodgy memory. It seems, in flashes back, that Dory was born with her disability, but all the efforts of her parents could not save her from losing her way.
Marlin is still wonderfully over cautious, Nemo is adorable and Dory is obliviously adventurous and fearless. While the story here, messages and even the gags and jokes, lack the oomph of the original, this color, vivid and often realistic rendering pleases, particularly in IMAX 3D. Pixar, before its time years ago, has created another exceptionally, beautiful underwater world. I’ve spent hours under the sea, and I felt there again, seeing familiar fish, awe-inspiring coral reefs and ocean fauna. Images literally POP of the screen.
I’d like to say that all is as ideal with Finding Dory, but there are a few notable faults. Sure, sea creatures cannot do the things that our heroine and her friends do, and sure we have to suspend belief, as in the first, but Finding Dory doesn’t offer up the same laughs, nor does it resonate with deep, key themes. It falls back on the specialness and uniqueness of family as its central focus and stays there. Finding Nemo is a timeless study in a variety of important social themes –accepting differences and limitations, facing fears, helicopter parenting, defiance, and the list goes on. Dory’s tale hardly comes close to its predecessor, but it still is a fun, exciting, action-packed thrill ride. In a word, the animation is breathtaking.
The voice cast is outstanding, and I need not say that Ellen DeGeneres IS Dory and Albert Brooks a perfectly Marlin. The original characters and their voices offer a fun touch of familiarity and the new ones give us more to love. Grumpy, negative Hank, the octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neal reluctantly befriends Dory and compliments her optimistic flakiness in a different way than the over-anxious Marlin. Dory’s parents are voice by Diane Keeton and Eugene Levy and other new characters include the voices of Bill Hader, Ty Burrell and Edris Elba.
This time, instead of a fish tank and the open ocean Dory and friends travel to an oceanographic park and institute and there they navigate the pipes, meet old and make new friends and generally do amazing and ridiculous things – like driving a truck, surviving being in fresh water and being flung long distances. The rescues are outlandish, but the trip is astounding to experience.
To this day, I “just keep swimming,” because of Dory a mantra I admire. Kids will love this film and while I typically am hesitant to watch anything in 3D, Finding Dory rocks it, especially in IMAX. I am happily placing an A in my grade book. For young and old and all in between, Pixar and Disney have done it again.