At last, thirteen years after the release of the endearing Disney film, “Finding Nemo”, in 2003, the inevitable sequel, “Finding Dory”, has finally arrived, drawing crowds from both the younger and older age groups into theaters nationwide. “Finding Dory” follows a simple plotline: Dory, a blue tang who suffers from short term memory loss, sets off across the ocean on a mission to search for her parents, Jenny and Charlie, whom she lost as a baby fish. Accompanying Dory on her voyage are our protagonists from “Finding Nemo”, Marlin, the ever-grumpy, cautious clownfish, and his adorably headstrong son, Nemo.
The storyline of this sequel is not completely fresh and original like the previous installment’s story since, like in “Finding Nemo”, we are once again following one fish’s journey to find her family. However, while the plot is quite formulaic and predictable, it still places an engaging spin on the issues of identity and home and conveys important messages about family and following your instinct. The film utilizes an even balance of fun, fast-paced action and relaxing moments that allow us to enjoy the beautiful, soothing ocean scenery. Indeed, the animation and palette of Finding Dory is pleasing to the eye and the soul, incorporating the deep blues and greens of the underwater expanse and ocean-dwelling algae. Many memorable scenes occur in “Finding Dory”: I personally will never forget the sight of the truck diving into the ocean as Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” played in the background.
One of the winning elements of “Finding Dory” is witnessing the development of Marlin’s character and the improvement in Dory’s memory. In this sequel, we finally get to see Marlin change from a conservative old fish to a more adventurous, daring one.
Meanwhile, the audience will inadvertently find themselves cheering as Dory slowly gathers the pieces of her memory. The humor was nicely sprinkled into the movie; even as a sixteen year old teenager, I still found myself laughing out loud at many of the comedic moments featuring the sea lions and, of course, our bubbly but forgetful protagonist Dory. With her effervescent spirit and child-like glee, Ellen DeGeneres, as the fearless, excitable, and hilarious Dory, is definitely a highlight of the movie.
Unfortunately, one major fault with “Finding Dory” is that it relies too heavily on logic-defying cartoon action as the main characters travel by scooting through pipes and flopping from one liquid vessel to another at the Marine Life institute. This sequel stretches beyond credibility quite a bit, especially when Hank the octopus somehow manages to maneuver a truck across a highway and into the ocean. However, while the brain may not accept these stretches beyond logic, the heart is more willing to do so. If it means reaching a happy ending, I know that my heart is willing to allow the film to break past the barriers of reality.
Many of my old favorites from “Finding Nemo” make cameos in this film, including the cool turtle Crush and his son Squirt, the fish-school instructor Mr. Ray and the infamous “Mine! Mine! Mine!”-chanting seagulls. We are also introduced to a cast of new characters, including Bailey the brain-addled beluga whale, Destiny the near-sighted whale shark, Hank the wiley octopus, Becky the unattractive loon, and a pair of lazy Cockney sea lions undergoing rehabilitation who stir in fury when their crazy-eyed companion Gerald dares lay a flipper on their rock. Although I am usually against the sudden influx of so many new characters, I quite enjoyed swimming through the movie with these newcomers in “Finding Dory,” especially Hank and Gerald. They each had different, entertaining personalities that added lighthearted comedy to the film, and they all aided in a unique way with Dory’s quest for her family.
Overall, “Finding Dory” was a delightfully heartwarming movie that awakened my inner child. Perhaps the film goes a bit too far past the walls of reality, but these stretches do not take away from the valuable life lessons the movie teaches and the charm of the tranquil ocean setting. Whether you are five or fifty, this movie will certainly leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.