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Finding Dory – Movie Review

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Finding Dory – Movie Review

Rating: A (Fantastic)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

How do you craft a sequel to a film like Finding Nemo, where the main arc of its lead characters has already been fulfilled? Director Andrew Stanton, one of Pixar’s top talents, has managed to find the appropriate solution by focusing on the forgetful blue tang fish Dory. Finding Dory manages to replicate the beauty and winning humour of its predecessor, but its most important task is expanding on its upgraded to lead status star. Her short term memory is cleverly interwoven into the central plot with the final result becoming a touching film about family and remembering the past. It has all of the character moments and genius storytelling touches so often considered hallmarks of Pixar’s legacy and becomes a worthy companion piece to Finding Nemo.

Dory is incredibly easy to find lovable with her chipper personality and the endless joy and enthusiasm Ellen DeGeneres brings to the character. Even as the viewer’s mind becomes dark about the possible conclusion of her journey, her optimism keeps the audience hopeful and excited. Each set-piece that occurs is not merely another action sequence, but an important part of her character development. Stanton and credited co-writer Victoria Strouse manage to use flashbacks in a clever way that helps piece Dory’s back story together and allow us to solve the mystery of her long lost parents along with her. It’s because of these cleverly placed flashbacks that the emotional moments feel genuine and elicit the proper response.

The new characters are worthy additions to the Finding Nemo canon, with disgruntled octopus Hank serving as a strong counterpoint to Dory. The animators cleverly utilise his crawling and camouflage abilities to their advantage and some great physical bits pepper his screen time. However, there’s an added complexity to him with his quest to escape the marine institute housing him and other aquatic life. A whale shark and beluga that help Dory on her quest also provide key supporting roles with Kaitlin Olson and Ty Burrell providing some humourous banter between the two. Finding Dory continues one of the central themes of the first film in its positive depiction of handicapped and disabled characters, including these two helpful whales. The screenplay also finds a clever way to use a real-life actor playing themselves that never feels jarring and forced.

Marlin and Nemo are thankfully not thrown aside and while their main goal is trying to find Dory, there’s a sweet arc with their subplot, too. This is a more confident Marlin than we saw in Finding Nemo, but pairing him with Nemo provides a different dynamic than his adventure with Dory. Their interactions with a trio of sea lions also provides some of the funniest moments in the film. Pixar’s animation continues to astound, with some beautiful ocean areas and scenery. The marine institute feels like an actual working park with multiple areas. A large aquarium containing all sorts of aquatic life is one of the most incredible locations the Pixar team has devised. Their talented array of animators and production designer Steve Pilcher clearly put a lot of thought into the details and which animals to include in it.

Finding Dory continues the high watermark of quality associated with Pixar. Being a sequel, there’s an expectation this won’t contain the same amount of originality and creativity the Hopping Lamp is known for. However, Andrew Stanton is able to justify its existence and make it a worthy companion piece to the much loved first film. Most importantly, it expands and develops Dory’s character that will probably help Finding Nemo become even more rewatchable than it already is. With the talented team of artists, Pixar’s great story team and the marvelous editing skills of Axel Geddes, this is yet another treat that deserves to stand alongside the very best of the year.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison