Review: ‘Finding Dory’

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(© Disney/Pixar)

Thirteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but Finding Dory, Pixar Animation Studios’ highly anticipated follow-up to its 2003 smash hit Finding Nemo, is definitely worth the wait.

The story picks up one year after the events of Finding Nemo. Dory is now living on the reef with Marlin, Nemo, and friends. And while she is as forgetful as ever, Dory has an intense recollection that she can’t shake—that she has a family somewhere, too. What ensues is a delightful comedy adventure where Dory, Marlin, and Nemo venture out to help find Dory’s family and where they realize that what they already have is like a family, too.

Andrew Stanton returns to both the writer’s and director’s chair for the film and he and his team have delivered a really terrific movie. It’s got everything we love about animated features from Pixar Animation Studios—stunning animation and artistry, tremendous technical innovation, fantastic storytelling, and, one of the main “secret sauce” elements of a good Pixar film, authentic emotion. The pacing and tone are perfection. And what could have easily been a boring re-hash or a maudlin and manipulative message movie is instead a supremely entertaining film that surprises and delights at every turn.

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The characters new and old are all brilliantly designed, rendered, and voiced.  Ellen DeGeneres gets MVP as our favorite forgetful fish. It’s also a delight to hear Albert Brooks again as the voice of Marlin the clown fish. New characters include Destiny the whale shark (voiced by Kaitlin Olson), Bailey the beluga whale (voiced by Ty Burrell), and Hank the octopus (well, actually he’s a “septopus” after losing one of his tentacles; and he’s brilliantly voiced by Ed O’Neill). Dory’s parents (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) are the kind of parents that every child deserves to have. More hilarious additions to the cast are two seals voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West (it’s like a mini reunion of The Wire!). And make sure to stay through the end credits for some other delightful surprises and laughs, too.

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What I loved most about Finding Dory is how it amazingly felt like returning home. We haven’t seen these characters in over a decade, yet watching the film made it seem like it was just yesterday when we followed along with Marlin and Dory as they were searching for Nemo. And now that we’re reunited, it felt like a wonderful reunion—the kind with the friends and family that you actually want to be with.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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