Refuge Reviews-Finding Dory
Finding Dory is the sweet affecting sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo that just might have too much Dory!
Let me say at the top that Finding Nemo is one of my favorite Disney/Pixar films of all time and thus one of my favorite animated film, period, so I was always going to hold Finding Dory to a high standard. Now while it did not hit on all points, its still a fantastic and emotional film. The story takes place one year after the original, when the blue tang, Dory suddenly starts to remember her parents and enlists the help of Marlin and Nemo to find them. They set off on a undersea journey to the Marine Life Institute in California which is the last place Dory remembers seeing them. Unlike its predecessor, this film takes place largely in just the one location in place of a long hero's journey and that's actually refreshing. The Marine Life Institute is a fun location to explore and holds a number of new characters that are a delight to spend time with.
The new characters include Bailey, a insecure beluga whale; Destiny, a near-sighted whale shark; and best of all, Hank the octopus, or is that septopus (he only has 7 tentacles)? Hank is a character that is very grumpy and a bit of a loner and his interactions with the honest and kind Dory make for the best moments in the film for me. He is voiced by Modern Family's Ed O'Neil who has perfected this kind of grouchy character over his career and brings pathos to Hank. The returning characters Marlin and Nemo don't get too much screen-time this time around, but still share some fun adventures to further their father/son dynamic. But the real star here is Dory, voiced once again with charm by Ellen deGeneres. Her journey to find her parents allows her to grow and overcome her short term memory loss. Its a wonderful message that teaches that having a disability doesn't prevent you from living your life in a positive way and that you can make others better people just by being around you. I love that Disney/Pixar are able to have a message like this in a animated film that still entertains and makes us laugh.
This film is absolutely stunning to look at with schools of fish swimming around colorful coral reefs and waves crashing upon the shores of California. Its not quite as beautiful as last year's The Good Dinosaur but its pretty close. The musical score from Thomas Newman is also spot-on fitting each scene well.
My one big criticism of this film is that Dory is a wonderful SUPPORTING character, but as the de facto lead can grow a little tiresome. Since she does struggle with memory loss, much of the film's humor and events are derived from that. Luckily anytime we might get a bit tired of Dory, those aforementioned new characters come in and make us laugh again. Also Dory goes through a lot in this film and by the end she is a changed fish, for the better I think.
Finding Dory is heartwarming, funny, emotional and just an overall delight to watch from start to finish. I constantly had a smile on my face that only wavered when I was getting a bit too much Dory. Luckily new characters like Hank the octopus and a pair of rowdy, Cockney-sounding seals made me smile all over and over again. No too mention the awesome message of overcoming a disability in a way only Disney/Pixar can. Filled to the brim with gorgeous visuals and fun new characters, Finding Dory is a must-see film for families of all ages!
Rated PG for mild thematic elements. Finding Dory is absolutely appropriate for kids (and adults) of all ages with only a couple of mild scares (one involving a one-eyed squid) and some emotional moments that could bring a tear or two to your eyes. I would say ages 4-99 will love this film!