Finding Dory

The next Pixar movie goes back to a familiar character from one of the movie studio’s most popular films.

Some recent animated movies have not been as good after taking secondary characters and trying to spread them out as the leads of their own films (I’m looking at you, Minions), and I was worried that Dory would fall into the same category.

However, Dory fit beautifully as the lead character in Pixar’s new film, Finding Dory.

Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the charming blue tang fish from Finding Nemo, steps front and center as she travels the oceans in search of the family that she has forgotten.  Aided by Marlon (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory tries to piece together random flashes of memory of her mom (Diane Keaton) and dad (Eugene Levy) to find clues of where they were.

Along the way, Dory meets a crew of new and creative characters including Hank the Octopus (Ed O’Neill), Destiny the Whale Shark (Kaitlin Olson), Bailey the Beluga Whale(Ty Burrell), and Fluke the sea lion(Idris Elba).

The story does a great job of advancing without being too cutesy or sweet.  It also does a really great job of  using the technique of Dory’s short term memory problems without it feeling like it was overused.  The writing was very strong with this character.

And because the writing of Dory was so strong, you can’t help but become invested in her attempts to find her family, despite so many overwhelming odds.  We see Dory as more than just a comical sidekick as she was used in Finding Nemo, but a challenged hero who refuses to be defeated by her shortcoming.  Dory is a true role model to any person whose disability causes a loss of balance in their lives.

Another example of the exceptional writing is how many times they took something that Dory did in Finding Nemo and gave it a reason.  Writer  and co-director Andrew Stanton, who wrote Finding Nemo, did a beautiful job of weaving everything together into a well fitting narrative without anything feeling forced.

The film also has Pixar’s normal humor and emotional depth.  There were a few times that I had some wetness in the corners of my eyes.  Now, I would not compare the emotional impact of Finding Dory to other brilliant Pixar films such as Inside Out or the Toy Story series, but it does have its moments.  I would say especially with the times that Dory was alone and questioning her ability to accomplish what she wanted, Finding Dory truly comes through.

The animation is, once again, an amazing Pixar specialty.  The colors of the fish and the ocean and the Oceanic Institute is wonderful.

Ellen Degeneres is magnificent as the voice of Dory.  She brings a heartfelt and humanity to this fish that makes you want to root for her.  You feel for her with her memory problems and you admire her for her courage.

Pixar proved that a secondary character could carry a sequel film and they have made yet another wonderful film that both children and parents will enjoy.

4.1 stars

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