"Finding Dory" stars Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, and Ed O'Neill. Released on June 17, 2016, the film has Dory and her friends journeying across the ocean to search for her parents.
The film is directed by Andrew Stanton, who also directed films such as A Bug's Life (as co-director), Wall-E, and John Carter. It is a sequel to the 2003 animated classic, Finding Nemo, also directed by Stanton. After taking on two original animated films last year, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, the Pixar team once again went back to its sequel territory. No, they're not bringing us back to the world of Cars again (that's next year). They're actually bringing us another story that sends us back to the undersea world of Finding Nemo. Now, I know what you're thinking. How could Pixar make a sequel to one of their beloved animated films that made themselves popular? The answer to that question is to have the supporting character from the first film, the lovable, yet forgettable, fish named Dory, be the main focus. This strategy was quite similar to Pixar's other sequel, Cars 2, when they have Mater as the main focus of the film. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out as well as they hoped, but hey, it just shows that not everyone is perfect, even Pixar. I was quite skeptical about this Pixar sequel for a couple reasons: A) I was nervous that critics are going to slam on it like they did with Cars 2, and B)…. Well, actually, there is no B. I was more skeptical on reason A. Anyway, I got a chance to see it in 3D because unsurprisingly, the 2D showings are packed with little kids and their families. While I thought the 3D looks great, the film itself was really good, although not enough to call it a Pixar classic.
Most of the main cast returned to voice their beloved characters, although Alexander Gould, who voiced Nemo in the first film, did not voice him again because the story took place six months after the events of Finding Nemo, so it wouldn't make sense to have a grown man's voice inside a little clownfish. Instead, they got Hayden Rolence to voice Nemo. I can barely tell the difference because they almost sound alike, so nice job, Pixar. Ellen DeGeneres once again shines as Dory, a fish with short-term memory loss. The best thing about Dory is that even though she forgets things a lot, it didn't really come off as being painfully annoying or ridiculous. In fact, she pretty much reminds me of myself. I forget things a lot and I tend to lose focus from time to time, so yeah, I know how that feels, Dory. Not only was she funny, but she still reminds us why she is one of the most memorable characters that Pixar offered. There were also some new characters that help Dory with her journey, including a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and a "septopus" named Hank (Ed O'Neill). Speaking of Hank, here's a funny thought I had while watching this movie. When Hank and Dory are together, they remind me of Spongebob and Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants because when Hank was annoyed by Dory's disability or lack of focus, it made me think of Squidward being annoyed by Spongebob's goofy shenanigans. You know, cause Hank and Squidward are both octopuses. Anyway, if you can get past some of his anger issues, you might find him to be a decent character. Like the first film, the animation in this sequel was simply gorgeous from the depths of the ocean to the marine park in California. While not as majestic as the first film, it is very pretty to look at, especially when watching it in 3D. The pacing is pretty quick at some points, but it's enough to keep the kids' attention and allow the film itself to add in the emotion of the characters, including Dory. The film's story had some pretty emotional moments and its supportive themes about disabilities and family that were treated very well. However, I do feel that it's not as memorable as the other Pixar films.
Overall, it's not much of a Pixar classic as Inside Out nor has any originality as Disney's thought-provoking Zootopia, but "Finding Dory" is a rare animated sequel that kept on swimming and never looked back. With great characters, gorgeous animation, and a story that appeases to kids and adults alike, it is a grand addition to the Pixar library, although Inside Out is still my favorite Pixar film. If you're a fan of Finding Nemo and animation in general, this movie will not disappoint you. Also, remember to just keep swimming when life gets you down.
PS: Before the movie, Disney and Pixar released a new animated short film called "Piper", which is about a baby sandpiper learning to overcome aquaphobia. It is the most cutest, most highly-detailed animated short I've ever seen, in my opinion. A worthy nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars.