Featuring a terrific cast and a charm we come to expect from Pixar, Finding Dory is a funny, heartwarming, and enchanting addition to the studio’s history. When one puts Pixar and sequels into the same thought you either remember the wonder that is the Toy Story franchise or the let down that is the Car’s problem. If I had to choose, I would place Finding Dory somewhat in the middle, say around a Toy Story 2 location. The film itself was great and the entire cast was wonderful, however the story was a bit of a rehash of the first film and the emotional stakes did not deliver what we have come to expect from a Pixar film.
At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) at a very young, and extremely adorable, age where her parents are attempting to teach her to live with her memory loss. Of course, due to her disability, she is somehow separated from her parents and forgets how to find her way home. We are treated to a montage of her attempting to explain who she is and where she is from to random fish as she grows up to eventually bump into a frantic clownfish looking for his son. One year later, apparently as a result of the events of the first film, Dory is able to remember something of her family and is determined to travel across the ocean to find them.
Director Andrew Stanton proves, once again, his mastery over these and new characters as Dory is slightly removed from her heavily comedic part in the first film and placed as a strong main character. While she is accompanied by Nemo and Marlin throughout the new adventure, several new characters emerge to help her along her way. Hank (Ed O’Neal) is an old octopus who only wants to move to an aquarium in Cleveland to live alone. Hank helps Dory through the Marine Life Institute, the place of Dory’s birth, to help her find her way home and find her parents. Helping alongside Hank is a near-sighted Whale Shark named Destiny (Caitlin Olsen), who originally taught Dory to speak whale, and a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell) who is struggling to regain his use of echolocation. These three help Dory through the majority of the film when Dory is separated from Marlin and Nemo.
This film still had all of the wonderful appeal of the first film and definitely showed how computer animation seems like it was built with undersea animation in mind. From the plant life, the sounds, the music, and the lighting, the theater transports you underwater and you never, for a second, want to leave the world of this movie. While all of these things may have not been able to prop up a very unoriginal story, it was nevertheless an entertaining and wonderful Pixar film.
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