Finding Dory is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Andrew Stanton with co-direction by Angus MacLane, the screenplay was written by Stanton and Victoria Strouse. The film is a sequel/spinoff to 2003’s Finding Nemo and features the returning voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, with Hayden Rolence (replacing Alexander Gould), Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy joining the cast. The film focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents.
The film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on June 8, 2016, and was released in the United States on June 17, 2016. Upon release, the film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide, becoming the second Pixar film to cross this mark after 2010’s Toy Story 3. The film set numerous records, including the highest-grossing animated film opening of all time in North America.
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 mom and dad from captivity.
Now when I first heard they were doing a Finding Nemo sequel, I was, like most people, very skeptical about the possibility of a sequel because the first movie ended on the right note and you really did not need to continue that story. Even the idea of a followup only seem to pop up once director Andrew Stanton’s John Carter bombed at the box office sort of like a “oh, this bombed, well better get back to a sure fire moneymaker.”
Even the trailers for this didn’t really do a good job selling the movie but making it seem like “hey, remember all these great characters you liked, they’re all back for no real reason, come back and see them.” The trailers never really sold the film to me up until the most recent trailer that gave me a sense of ‘hey, this might actually not be so bad after all.’
And much to my surprise, it wasn’t bad at all, in fact, it was downright enjoyable. I really liked this movie a lot. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Finding Nemo was but that’s a hard act to follow.
I really did like a lot of things about this movie. For one thing, the animation is once again top notch Pixar, the shots of the ocean and the water scenes are impressively shot and handled and you can definitely see the noticeable improvement in terms of Pixar’s way of creating backgrounds and a universe for this story, it’s much more detailed and more textured than the first film was.
The voice cast is once again spectacular, Ellen DeGeneres is always great to watch as Dory, Albert Brooks is also great as Marlin, Hayden Rolance, stepping in for Alexander Gould as Nemo, is a good replacement. The new characters and voice cast are great in this too, you’ve got Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson, Ed O’Neill, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, and Sigourney Weaver all great in this movie.
The nods to the original movie are definitely in here but unlike most sequels we’ve gotten recently, they don’t force the nods onto you like crazy, they are all put in there very effectively and nicely.
The movie even finds way to get an emotional impact out of you in a great way too. You really do get involved with Dory’s search to find her family and you also get invested in the backstory of Dory and how she ends up losing her parents, you really do get invested in the characters and feel for the circumstances they face.
There are some noticeable complaints that I have towards the film.
The biggest problem is that the story is pretty much a been there done that storyline, so much to the point that Pixar copied their own story structure they had with Toy Story 2, a main character is taken away from their home to a strange new place where they come across new friends and old friends from the past, there’s a quest involved, some secrets are revealed, twists and turns happen, and there’s a crazy climax at the end. Literally, there’s a driving scene that’s way too similar to Toy Story 2. There’s even a scene where they have this barricade of cops and Dory and Hank driving the car…just roll with it…go over the barricade and you see this cop looking up with his shades on eating his donut and having a coffee and he’s just looking up at this like “yeah, this isn’t the most unusual thing I’ve ever seen.” Which makes me believe that both Finding Nemo and Toy Story are set in the same universe, it would make sense why this cop would have this reaction like “yeah, whatever” instead of “holy shit, there’s a fucking octopus driving a truck.”
Probably the one thing that really bothered me is the whole story about Dory’s parents, mostly how Dory eventually finds them. The way it plays out, they make it seem like Dory’s parents ended up dying because they were waiting so long for her return in quarantine but then, Dory gets accidentally sent back into the ocean and…somehow comes across her parents alive and well and tells her that she always knew they’d find them so they decided to live in the most desolated unknown area in the ocean. I mean, really, the parents really didn’t put it together that “hey, maybe we should make it easier to find our daughter better?” That just really got to me big time.
Finding Dory doesn’t necessarily have that great spark that Finding Nemo had but it has just enough to find entertainment value in it and a lot of it, as long as it’s not another Cars 2, we’re all good and this is far from it. There’s still more than enough magic in this universe to keep Finding Dory extremely enjoyable, it’s nicely animated, it’s got great characters, it’s got good comedy, the story works despite its’ predictability, it’s still a really good movie.
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