Anthony's Film Review
Finding Dory (2016)
The follow-up to Finding Nemo keeps us amused with humor, excitement, and touching moments...
Finding Dory is the fourth time that a Pixar movie has created a series by producing and releasing a follow-up movie. Toy Story was the first, with a sequel in 1999 and a third movie many years after that. Then Cars came out with a sequel, and Monsters, Inc. was followed by a prequel movie. In most cases, any follow-up Pixar movie that came out after 2010 tended to be a step down from the original or toned down the kind of touching heartfelt elements that Pixar is known for. This is true for Finding Dory as well. It's a movie that may not feel like the epitome of a Pixar movie as Finding Nemo was, but it still has enough fun and humor to qualify as a good movie to watch.
This one is also similar to the follow-ups to Cars and Monsters, Inc. in that a supporting character from the original becomes the main character for the next movie. Dory, the blue fish from Finding Nemo voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, becomes the title character in this one. Just as Nemo had been a fish whose father Marlin searched desperately for him, Dory in this movie is a fish whose parents had lost her. But it's Dory searching for her parents, not the other way around. That's because, despite her short-term memory loss, Dory manages to remember a few things from her distant childhood, all providing clues about her origin and what might have separated her from her family.
Hence, Dory along with Marlin and Nemo travel across the Pacific Ocean to the coast of California. The search for Dory's parents takes them to the Marine Life Institute where wildlife conservationists care for sick marine life and tourists explore aquariums and other attractions. In fact, this is where most of the movie takes place. That's not to say it isn't as fun as being out in the ocean. If anything, this place has plenty of areas that are interesting to explore in detail, such as a quarantine building, a whale tank, and a tidal pool where visitors can touch the organisms in it (which is great fun for the humans, but terrifying for the marine animals).
One thing that is great about Finding Nemo can still be seen here: the anthropomorphization of animals other than the main fish characters. In Finding Nemo, you get to see a scary shark, sea turtles with surfer personalities, and hungry sea gulls. In Finding Dory, there is a beluga whale with a head injury and a shark with extreme nearsightedness, who both have the habit of arguing with each other since they occupy neighboring tanks. There are also two sea lions sitting on a rock who do not like a third dumb-looking sea lion trying to get onto the same rock. And let's not forget the supporting character who has a crucial role in the plot: an octopus named Hank (voiced by Ed O'Neill, known for the TV shows Married With Children and Modern Family) who has the ability to camouflage himself anywhere.
While this movie is one that focuses less on heart and more on fun and adventure, there are still moments that appeal to the emotions. They mainly occur with the childhood flashbacks that Dory has from time to time. Every time I saw a scene with a baby Dory and her parents, I found myself wanting to hug the little fish, because taking care of a precious child and not wanting to lose him or her is a natural parental instinct. I also felt inspired whenever Dory, young or old, could overcome something without being limited by memory problems. It just goes to show that determination wins the day no matter what stands in the way.
Overall, while Finding Dory doesn't quite reach the high bar of the perfect Pixar movie, it certainly meets the expectations of an entertaining movie in general. The story is nicely written, the characters are fun, and the humor is decent. It's a movie that will keep you smiling from beginning to end. At this point, I don't have too much of an issue with Pixar making sequels and prequels to earlier Pixar movies, as long as they're entertaining enough for me to be worth my time. In my opinion, Pixar still has what it takes to make good movies. Whether they're originals, sequels, or prequels, the animation studio always has a way to, in the words of Dory, keep on swimming.
For more information about Finding Dory, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Finding Nemo.