After the worldwide success of Pixar’s Finding Nemo over a decade ago, adults and children alike have eagerly awaited the release of its sequel, Finding Dory.
While Finding Dory retains a great deal of the magic of its predecessor, particularly its wacky humour, colourfully vivid animation, and a strong but simultaneously touching focus on family, it falls slightly short of capturing the ageless appeal of Finding Nemo.
Taking place one year after the events of Finding Nemo, talkative blue tang fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), previously a supporting character, has now been thrust onto centre stage. Dory, who suffers from a particularly imposing case of short-term memory loss, begins to recall how she became separated from her parents as a child. With the help of her clown fish friends Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory embarks on a quest to find her mother and father.
Dory’s disability is presented in an equally humorous and heart-wrenching way. While we will laugh at Dory’s inability keep track of her train of thought, we may also sigh at the sense of guilt she feels regarding her memory loss and how it allowed her to lose her parents. This relatively multifaceted representation of Dory’s infliction helps to remind people of all ages that despite their perceived flaws, there is still something special and positive about them.
The journey that Dory and her friends undertake is entertaining enough, but after a certain truck chase featured in the last quarter of the film, it becomes a little over-the-top. While the film’s intended audience probably won’t baulk at the outlandishness, their parents might. When a film’s premise is essentially centred on talking fish, however, a touch of the peculiar is to be expected.
Dory’s quest errs towards being heavy-handed and overly emotional towards film’s end. Younger audience members will likely not notice this. The emotional manipulation at play here, coupled with the fact that protagonist Dory is incredibly childlike in nature, highlights the key difference between Finding Dory and Finding Nemo. While Finding Nemo managed to perform a fine balancing act of being fun enough to appeal to children, and yet mature enough to appeal to older audience members, Finding Dory isn’t as successful at appealing to a wider audience.
Ellen DeGeneres, who voices Dory, is in fine form here. Her quirky portrayal is amusing and surprisingly moving. Finding Dory’s host of supporting characters, from cynical octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill), to friendly whale Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), and of course harried father Marlin and his curious son Nemo, are all strongly defined in their own right, and delightful additions to the film.
Parents wanting to keep their offspring quiet for a few hours will greatly benefit from taking them to see Finding Dory. Young adults who grew up watching Finding Nemo may get a kick out of the film, while fulfilling their nostalgia quota for the year.
With over 25 million likes, Dory is the most liked character on Facebook from any Disney or Pixar film.