Pixar sequels are a very mixed bag; you get your masterpieces like Toy Story 2 and 3, then you get your middle of the road entertainment like Monsters University, and then you get toy commercials like Cars 2. It’s very hard to predict which way a Pixar sequel will go, and that was definitely the way I looked at Finding Dory when it was first announced. You all remember Dory, the forgetful blue tang voiced by Ellen Degeneres who stole the show in 2003’s Finding Nemo. She was a delightful character, and there was always potential of cashing in on her fame, and that was my fear when Finding Dory was first announced. The alarm bells rang; they’re going to stretch an amusing side character into a main plot device for the sole purpose of making money. I was dead against it, and the frankly terrible trailers didn’t help that. But when I got to the film itself? Boy, was I wrong…
Dory is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents as a child. With help from her friends Nemo and Marlin, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save her parents from captivity.
I’m gonna start with a negative because there’s really only one; the film is a little contrived. It focuses heavily on flashbacks of Dory’s past to explain certain quirks and plot developments, and at times it feels little too convenient, like there was no smarter way to inject this important information into the film. That’s about it for cons, and it’s minuscule in comparison to this film’s beauty. Finding Dory is a very emotionally overwhelming film, and not in the usual “All Pixar films are sad kind of way”, it’s emotionally overwhelming in the sense that you go through so many different feelings throughout the course of the film that it completely captures with every scene, whether it be elation or fear or adrenaline or sadness, there’s no emotional experience this film wont’ take to the extreme.
One of the best ways to judge sequels like this, and determine whether or not they’re a cash grab, is to answer this simple question: Does it have a story to tell? Is this an important, well structured story that actually makes sense and not just some random events tacked on to the end of the last film just for the sake of making another one? Finding Dory definitely has a story to tell, and there’s no point where it feels fake or unwarranted. The jokes are hilarious, the voice cast is outstanding, the messages and themes within the film are heard loud and clear and impact deeply, and it’s the furthest thing from cheap and lazy you could imagine.
Finding Dory is a joyous, heart-wrenching, thrilling, absolutely marvellous family adventure that ranks among Pixar’s best sequels, and maybe even tops the first film.
Finding Dory is out on DVD & Blu-Ray Review