"Finding glee and tears in this equally lovable sequel.”
Thirteen years after the global phenomenon Finding Nemo, our beloved trio of fish comes back to the big screen with another tenderly moving and hilariously jaw-dropping adventure. Co-directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, Finding Dory puts the adorable blue tang damsel on the spotlight as she searches her long-lost parents with the help of her orange father-and-son clownfish buddies and several new delightful and lovable friends.
The film opens with Dory as a wide-eyed fry who was trained by her parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton), to tell anyone she meets, “I suffer from short-term memory loss.” Mysteriously, little Dory got separated from her parents. For a long time, she kept looking for them until she finally forgot about them.
Time rolled and the present film picks up a year after the conclusion of Finding Nemo. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), though still forgetful, lives in peaceful togetherness with Nemo (newcomer Hayden Rolence) and his dad Marlin (Albert Brooks). When Dory is swept by an undertow, fragments of her memory come back. Enlisting her friends’ help, she travels across oceans to Morro Bay to be reunited with the parents she barely recalls.
Finding Dory follows the same line of thought with its predecessor but executes its material in a truly different way. While Finding Nemo frolics in the beach, Dory and her friends find themselves in a misadventure in Marine Life Institute, a theme park whose mission is “Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release.” With recorded voice of Sigourney Weaver blasting here and there, the facility offers ocean escapades with human. Yet, some species of fish are slowly being quarantined, to be shipped off later to another facility in Cleveland. This is where our heroes find themselves in a dilemma.
However, they do things the “Dory” way and whatever complicated challenges that come along, they face them with enjoyably delightful tricks. This makes the film truly endearing and funny. Creative slapsticks are plenty, delivered by lovable new characters like near-sighted shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), echolocation-guru beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), Becky the loon, and lazy sea lion duo Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West). Hank the octopus, or “septopus” because he lost one tentacle, is perhaps the most winning figure. In the beginning, he just wanted to take Dory’s tag so he could be transferred to a Cleveland aquarium, but soon developed a heart (or three hearts) and found friendship with the squad. His shape- and color-shifting antics are remarkably ingenious and entertaining.
Aside from teeming with laughs, the movie has magical visual poetry, taking us into near-deep-ocean experience. The swaying stalks of kelps are so much real and alive, and so do the irradiated giant octopus, the hairy oyster and his pearl, the colourful coral reefs, and the gliding schools of fish.
Yet, there are also some lapses of logic in the film’s plot. Unlike in the first film where a tragic event happened at the beginning, Finding Dory lacks the problem that requires urgency. It was only a small pop of memory that launched the adventure. Much of the movie takes place in the ocean park when our heroes actually traveled halfway through the world. There are a number of missed opportunities for underwater encounters while traversing through oceans and seas. The climax is quite predictable and it is unbelievable that Dory’s parents choose to remain childless after her disappearance. Would it not be exciting to see Dory having blue tang siblings in this reunion?
Still, such flaws are negligible as the film succeeds in developing Dory’s character. She has become more than just a fish with mental handicap. She provided some of the movie’s tears, especially when she finally got the whole picture of the tragedy that occurred when she was still young. The title might be a misnomer as it is Dory who is finding her parents. But in essence, it is Dory finding herself and the love, self-liberation, and confidence she finds once she is reunited with the people she had lost.
Finding Dory may not be as creative or unique as the first film. However, it has an equivalent amount of energy, fun, tears, and life lessons. Plus we get to meet the lovable “septopus,” and considering his fears of going back into the ocean and the vagueness of his story, we might as well anticipate Finding Hank in the near future.
Distribution: Walt Disney Studios
Production: Pixar Animation Studios
Voices: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Sloane Murray, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver
Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Producer: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Executive producer: John Lasseter
Director of photography: Jeremy Lasky, Ian Megibben
Production designer: Steve Pilcher
Editor: Axel Geddes
Music: Thomas Newman