‘Finding Nemo’ is considered as a contemporary classic among animated films. Pixar tries to craft a worthy successor to match the right notes of ‘Nemo’ and mostly completes this task. ‘Finding Dory’ is an adventure that gives us an even greater population of rich characters while retreading on some familiar beats. For this reason ‘Dory’ makes for another enjoyable jaunt that doesn’t meet the high standard that ‘Nemo’ set, but gets close to the high notes that the franchise has set.
‘Finding Dory’ starts out on a similar beat but continues with non-linear story-telling. This means that her origin is told out of order and throughout the movie, and I like this. With Dory’s short-term memory loss, her origin is actually implemented very well through the master-craft of the writing crew. We get a good look at Dory and how she explores her world and we get some satisfying catch-up with some old friends from ‘Finding Nemo’.
Among the high notes in the movie are Dory herself and a Septapus named Hank. Hank is a superb addition to the cast, serving as a gray character that you’re not entirely sure of his intentions. He helps guide Dory through a myriad of obstacles in order to find what she’s looking for, but in this time he has a side agenda.
Hank also serves as a pilot to the movie’s most thrilling scenes. Idris Elba plays a deal with a running gag similar to the seagulls from ‘Finding Nemo’ that is thoroughly enjoyable. Nemo and Marlin serve as part lead/part supporting characters. The movie does boast some other names, but these are the key players and ones with most significance to ‘Finding Dory’.
‘Finding Dory’ is brimming with “How do they get out of this?” moments that are brilliantly executed by the storytellers. Moments where Nemo and Marlin get stuck and look for creative solutions are abundant in the time we spend with these characters. With that in mind, these moments start to grow stale after the middle of the movie. The ending follows with a rather bogus that just seems a bit outlandish and not as creative as some of the other elements of the movie. I can’t falter Pixar with their creativity, because it’s at top notch throughout 50% of the movie, but toward the end it just didn’t feel like some of the moments connected as well with what the movie already established, the finale in particular.
‘Nemo’ also has more memorable moments and setpieces than ‘Finding Dory’. In ‘Nemo’ there’s something about the seagull gag and meeting the Sharks that is so charming that it fills our hearts with delight only the way Disney and Pixar know how to do. ‘Finding Dory’ undoubtedly still has that charm but just not as much of it as ‘Finding Nemo’ does.
Any interaction that Dory makes, the sea lions, and a bird named “Becky” comprise of this charm, I felt that Nemo and Marlin were somewhat wasted here, and that the movie might resonate more with me if there was just a bigger focus on Dory and her former life. However, Nemo and Marlin assisting Dory in her endeavor makes for good bookends and a tip of the hat to how Dory helps Marlin in ‘Finding Nemo’ so it’s not a huge deal, but a minor gripe.
‘Finding Dory’ tells an endearing story about family that makes it a great family film and something for the audience that grew up watching ‘Finding Nemo’. I don’t think that ‘Dory’ is as memorable as ‘Nemo’ but its predecessor has a high pedigree to match. ‘Finding Dory’ is a great summer movie that should be recommended to all interested in continuing the great story that Pixar has developed. I also highly recommend staying after the credits for a fantastic little scene that fans should love.
[Reviewed by Paul Minnich]