At first glance, Finding Dory seems like an obvious cash grab from Pixar’s owner Disney, causing many to brush it off and criticize it even before seeing it. However, Pixar has stepped up yet and again and has delivered a sequel that not only is deserving of the Pixar name, but also on par with the beloved original.
Finding Dory follows the events the original Pixar film, showing life after finding Nemo. Dory (Ellen Degeneres), Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) are happy and content; however, when an event triggers Dory’s memory about her long-last family, she’s determined to venture out into the deep blue sea to find them. Her journey take her all the way to California to a marine rehabilitation aquarium, which appears to hold the secret to Dory’s missing parents. Along the way, she’s reunited with old friends like a Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark, and new acquaintances like Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus on a mission to escape the refuge, while struggling to remember key events from her past that will unlock her parents’ whereabouts.
While there are similar elements that seem to be there just for nostalgia–going to school with Mr. Ray, cruising the EAC with the sea turtles–most of those are presented early enough in the film, that by the time the story really starts to take shape, we’re allowed to focus on the new elements. The majority of Finding Dory takes place at the marine sanctuary, which is a nice change of pace from the vast ocean, which was the setting for the first film. This new setting allows us to meet a variety of new creatures and situations, which would have been impossible before.
Dory is the star of the film, and rightfully so. The film delivers its biggest punches and wins during the many flashbacks to Dory’s childhood, as we see her parents and her struggle to overcome her short-term memory loss disability. These scenes tear at your heartstrings and make you more empathetic for Dory as a character.
Overall, Finding Dory is just as fresh as the original hit film from thirteen years ago. While there are a few moments that seem to rehash popular scenes from the original, for the most part, the sequel feels like an appropriate continuation of the story, answering the question we never knew we needed so badly–what happened to Dory?