Nutshell: Finding Dory is a little bit crazier, a little bit goofier, and maybe even a little more heavy-handed than its predecessor. But it’s still got its heart in the right place, and plenty of positive messages mixed in with the fun. Kids will love it, and adults will find themselves LOL’ing right along with them. Grade: A-
What’s it like to lose your family? Well, Finding Nemo gave kids of all ages a peek at what that’s like, without all of the Bambi heartbreak. Oscar-winner Andrew Stanton (Wall*E, Finding Nemo) delivers another gorgeous look at how important our connections with others are in this world with Finding Dory. Is it as good as WALL*E or Finding Nemo? Well, WALL*E is one of my all-time favorite films, so that’s a pretty high bar to clear. So why don’t I just say that Finding Dory is a fun bit of slapstick rolled around a sweet center of love, family and friendship. Plus, there’s some killer animation here. *
Did I say killer animation? I did, and I meant it; Dory takes the adorable, iconic look of Nemo and cranks it to eleven. I’m talking actual scales on Nemo and Marlin. Effortless-looking movement for the
octo septopus Hank (the awesome Ed O’Neill). And absolutely breathtaking views of schooling fish both in the sea and at a huge “open ocean” aquarium.
Yep, aquarium. In case you haven’t seen the trailers for Dory, the basic story is simple; Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a Blue Tang who suffers from short-term memory loss, has a sudden flash of memory about her parents. She’s determined to find them, but in order to do that, she’ll need help. Cue Nemo (newcomer Hayden Rolence) and his dad Marlin (Albert Brooks)! Can they get Dory to “The Jewel Of Morro Bay”? Spoiler: you betcha. What about finding her parents? Well, that’s a spoiler I won’t spoil, but the trip includes sea lions and a crazy car chase lead by an octopus…
Finding Dory covers a lot in its 97 minutes. Family, loss, the importance of connection, environmental responsibility (Dory gets tangled up in a 6-pack holder, the bane of the ocean’s existence), friendship, and trying your best. It also touches on not judging a book by its cover, especially when it comes to those who look or think differently from you. A lovely sentiment to get out to the crowds, no matter what their ages.
I could go on and on about the breathtaking animation, sound editing – especially regarding Bailey the Beluga Whale (Ty Burrell) and Whale Shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) – film editing, and how the voice actors here really got their characters across. But let’s just say it’s a great film to take the kiddies to, and a really good time no matter your age. I will say that if you can swing it, pop for the 3D IMAX. The animation is wanna-get-up-close good.
* BTW, make sure you get to the theater in plenty of time to catch the Disney Pixar animated short, Piper. Not only is the star one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in the history of ever (that’s saying a lot, kiddies), but the animation is spectacular. Next-level amazing. Almost-put-Dory-in-the-shade perfection. Place your Oscar for Best Animated Short bets now, people. I’m callin’ it.