Hot Take: It might be a little preposterous but Finding Dory is also a lot of fun.
Parts of Finding Dory are actually more enjoyable than parts of Finding Nemo. The storyline is secondary here as we’ve already come to know the characters and pretty much know what to expect. The second adventure across the ocean is actually as much fun as the first and, at times, surpasses its predecessor.
This isn’t to say Finding Dory is a better film than Finding Nemo. Nemo wins thanks to its emotional tugs at your heartstrings. Dory seemingly takes a different approach. While it doesn’t avoid the emotional moments, it doesn’t dwell on them either.
The challenge for Finding Dory is to live up to the Pixar brand and Pixar’s uncanny knack to deliver kid-friendly adult fare. Since this is the follow up to Finding Nemo, the core audience for a sequel is now 13 years older. Some of the original audience is now old enough to have kids so it’s easy to capture them but those adults who just want to revisit their childhood need something, too. The only knock on Finding Dory might be an inability to overcome the kid’s stuff. Most of the movie focuses on a more juvenile story and events that should make kids “Squee!” with delight but parents might drift off. The great voice work by Ellen DeGeneres (as Dory), Albert Brooks (as Marlin) and Hayden Rolence (as Nemo) who bring to life the three main characters from the original story will keep adults attentive. As will the cast of recognizable voices bringing life to new characters — Ed O’Neill voices Hank, a Septopus (he’s an octopus who lost one of his tentacles), Kaitlin Olson voices Destiny who is a near-sighted whale, Ty Burrell voices Bailey the beluga whale whose echolocation skills aren’t up to snuff, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory’s parents and Idris Elba and Dominic West as a pair of snarky but helpful sea lions — keep adults from completely losing interest if they’re looking for something more along the lines of Inside Out.
While Finding Dory is no Inside Out, it isn’t Cars 2 or Monsters University, either. The Finding Nemo follow-up does enough to score a win for the sequel and not have it tagged and sent off to the aquarium of unnecessary sequels which is good because that exhibit is suffering from overcrowding at the moment.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Short Before The Feature
Pixar loves to give the audience a short animated film before their feature films. Finding Dory features Piper which is about an adorable, beach-dwelling baby bird whose mother wants the baby bird to finally eat on their own but the waves have the baby sandpiper a little afraid of the water. Both children and adults will find the 6-minute segment pleasing.
- It’s Like Revisiting Old Friends
What works so well with Finding Dory are the characters. While there are a number of great new characters, it’s hard to not be happy to see Marlin, Nemo and Dory together again. Even though Dory’s antics can get a little annoying, it fits the character and those around her share in your frustration as Dory deals with her disability of… What was I writing? I don’t remember.
- And Meeting New Ones
The new characters of Finding Dory live up to the characters we were introduced to in Finding Nemo (like Bruce the Shark and Gill the Moorish Idol with a broken fin) and actually excels beyond the original. While the sequel could easily suffer from underutilizing the new characters or feel overcrowded, Finding Dory finds the perfect balance and the new characters never feel forced or wasted.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Some of the Antics Are A Little Preposterous
Yes, it is animation BUT it’s hard to wrap your head around aquatic life escaping fish tanks or using a fountain to get from one end of Sea World-type exhibit to the other if you are over the age of 12.