Directors: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse, Bob Peterson
Voice Talents: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Haden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Sloane Murray, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Sigourney Weaver
In the sequel to the massive Pixar hit Finding Nemo, the story shifts from a father desperately trying to find his son to a daughter distractedly looking for her parents. Dory (DeGeneres), after realizing something is missing in her life, starts to remember her parents Jenny (Keaton) and Charlie (Levy) and is eager to find them. Her clown fish pals, Marlon (Brooks) and Nemo (Rolence), help her to find the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay, CA (where she originally came from), but Dory is quickly separated from the group upon arrival. Teaming up with a somewhat agoraphobic octopus, Hank (O’Neill), a near sited whale shark, Destiny (Olson), and a beluga whale with a head trauma, Bailey (Burrell), Dory embarks a tour of the Institute looking for her family with lots of hijinks along the way and a hilarious running gag involving Weaver.
While Finding Nemo is about a father learning to let go of the helicopter parenting and let his child grow up, Finding Dory focuses on the trials and tribulations of raising a child with a disability. With all the subtly of a hammer, the Pixar film explains to us just because a person has a disability (like short-term memory loss for instance) they can still take care of themselves (for the most part) as long as you are patient and loving. It is a nice message overall; but like I said, the subtly is lacking.
With that tiny bit of negativity out of the way, I am now free to gush about how much I loved this film. From the beginning, I could feel my heartstrings being manipulated. I didn’t care. I fell in love with Dory even more after meeting her as a child (voiced by Murray) with her parents. After the opening scene, I turned to my future sister-in-law and said “these bastards already have me crying.” She didn’t answer me because she was too busy wiping the tears from her eyes. You don’t have to love DeGeneres, but how can you not love the adorably forgetful fish?
Allowing Dory to be the star of the show was probably the best decision the producers could have made since she stole Finding Nemo from Brooks 13 years ago. Of course this time around Hank put the film in his tentacles and ran away with it. He promises to help the lost blue tang fish in exchange for a tag she received to an aquarium in Cleveland. Hank wishes to live out his life in a tank away from grabby hands and the big blue ocean. He starts out gruff, but as we get to know the chameleon-like cephalopod, we see a big heart (or 3 hearts) underneath. Another group of show stealers are the sea lions Fluke (Elba), Rudder (West), and Gerald (Torbin Xan Bullock) who help our heroes a bit here and there, but mostly serve as witnesses to all of the action.
And there is plenty of action. Particularly in the climax of the film. For the kiddos, the big ending will be a huge laugh. The adults will look at one another like “WTF?”. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but even for a movie about a fish who has memory issues and can read English, it is way too fantastical. It didn’t stop me from laughing, it was just a little much. I guess it works considering the film’s message is none too subtle.
Be sure to stay all the way thru the credits, there is a bonus scene involving some characters from the first film.
Finding Dory is a surefire hit for Pixar the entire family will love showing us sequels don’t have to be a beating if they are made with love for the characters and the audience.
5 out of 5 Stars