*Review contains minor spoilers*
Plot: When Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) begins to have memories come back to her about her mom and dad, she takes Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence) on a journey to reunite with her long lost family.
I always worry when Pixar announces sequels or prequels. This was no different when they discussed the release of Finding Dory, the follow up to Finding Nemo, which came out 13 years ago. The beloved Dory, comedic relief for the original film, was going to be the star. How could they take a side character, make her the focus, and not lose any one of her wonderful character traits in the writing? Not only that, but did Finding Nemo really need a sequel?
Whether you think yes or no to that question, it doesn’t matter. Finding Dory is here, and while it fails to live up to its predecessor, it still is an entertaining film that does not do anything to damper the wonderfulness of Dory. The story actually uses her short term memory loss as a strength as to how to tell the story, with the movie taking place before, slightly during, and after the events of Finding Nemo. The film actually introduces us to young Dory right at the start, and dear lord, wonderful move by Pixar to do this. The young version of the titular character will steal your heart right from the get go, and that kind of element is necessary to root for Dory the whole way through.
With that being said, other animals steal the spotlight from the blue main character, even though that may be a hard thing to do. Hank (voice by Ed O’ Neil;) is an octopus on a mission, and Dory crosses paths with him in her adventure by may also be able to help him out, which is not as easy as it sounds. The two of them interact with Destiny (voiced by Kaitlin Olson, aka Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), a near sighted Whale Shark, and Bailey (voiced by Ty Burrell), a beluga who has some pretty sweet sonar powers. The three of them provide much of the comedic moments, and I loved all of these major new additions alot.
There’s also some sea lions and adorable otters that get in on the action too, but ultimately the primary focus comes back to the trio from the first film. Marlin and Nemo actually don’t have much to do except be moral support, and at one point they are separated from Dory, which leads into a subplot that plays for jokes as best as it can, but ultimately feels tacked on somewhat.
Also, with the original film, I felt that there was a pacing issue, and it seems to happen here too. It’s only because the movie feels like it is reaching its conclusion more than once, which also happened in the first outing. Not only that, but a sequence at the near end so felt too similar to another animated movie, from Pixar to be more specific. It was still an good sequence, but in a movie that’s a sequel already, I would’ve liked something different.
That being said, Finding Dory was a far better film than I expected it to be, and for that I am pretty happy. It’s beautiful to look at as well, the animation is phenomenal. I don’t think this series is planned to be a trilogy, but who knows where Pixar will take it? Possibly, somewhere beyond the sea? Anything is possible, I guess. If they decide to make a third one, I’ll definitely keep swimming.
Note: The short film before Finding Dory, titled Piper, is absolutely adorable and has breathtaking animation. Wonderful stuff.
Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Pop-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and ABC’s The Goldbergs.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, among other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-