Set 6 months after the events in 2003’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory focuses on Dory’s quest to find her parents. For a very long time Dory had forgotten that she had lost her family, but now that she has remembered, she will stop at nothing to be reunited with them. Thankfully Dory has friends such as Nemo, Marlin, and Mr Ray to help her on the mission.
Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) suffers from memory loss issues. We learn that has a young fish her parents worked very hard to equip Dory with the tools needed to get by in life, helping her compensate for her memory loss through songs and visual clues. One night when Dory went to retrieve a pretty shell, she accidentally swims into the strong undertow, and is swept away from her family. For a while she looks for them, but she soon forgets who it is she is looking for. After some time she meets Nemo (Hayden Rolence – he was voiced by Alexander Gould in Finding Nemo) and Marlin (Albert Brooks), and becomes part of a new family.
It turns out the songs her parents taught her did lodge themselves in her memory, and they help her memories come back in fits and starts. With the help of her new family, she sets out to be reunited with her parents, having all sorts of adventures and making new friends along the way.
Finding Dory is an absolute delight. Sweet, poignant, funny, and sad – for me, it really is Pixar at its best. Beautifully animated with an enchanting soundtrack, it is a return to form (and animation) for co-director and screenwriter Andrew Stanton after his live action film John Carter. Dory is such a likeable character – you like her because of her flaws, not in spite of them. In fact, what Finding Dory does so wonderfully, is provide encouragement and positivity for young people and their families who deal with learning disorders. Dory may not have a great memory, but she has enviable attributes that don’t come easy to others, such as quick-thinking under pressure and positivity. These attributes can be largely credited to the love and care her family put into bringing her up.
While Finding Dory sees many of Finding Nemo‘s characters return, it is Dory’s new friends who are the most interesting. Chief among these friends is Hank (Ed O’Neill), a gruff octopus who is talented in the art of escape and camouflage. His ill-tempered manner contrasts brilliantly with Dory’s unwavering cheerfulness, and his ability to camouflage is played out to great comedic effect. Idris Elba’s sea lion is also extremely amusing, with the sea lions very much taking the place of the seagulls [“mate, mate, mate, mate”] from Finding Nemo.
This film doesn’t quite have the same level of peril as Finding Nemo; Dory is after all an adult looking for her parents – but I can honestly say that I enjoyed this film more. The messages of overcoming personal difficulties and the importance and value of family, in whatever form your family takes, really resonated with me. It is certainly a more adult film (although, still completely accessible for younger audiences), and as such the jokes are slightly more sophisticated. As with Finding Nemo, there is plenty of slapstick and visual humour that will amuse audience members of all ages.
Finding Dory is an outstanding addition to the Pixar canon, and a film I know I will be revisiting many times in the years to come. Dory’s charm absolutely won me over, and she found her way to my heart.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane
Writer(s): Andrew Stanton (screenplay)
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Hayden Rolence
Runtime: 103 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: June 16, 2016