Finding Dory is colourful and attractive, with an empathetic and sensitive storyline, gentle and warm humour. A soothing and enjoyable film, but not quite Pixar’s best.
As has become a yearly tradition in film, Disney/Pixar have fired yet another laser-guided emotion induction missile into the broadside of cinema. A sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory thankfully avoids the pitfall of feeling like an unnecessary sequel or prequel, (see Monsters University, Cars 2). It provides a film that’s both eminently likable and capable of dishing out Pixar’s heavy firepower of sentimental entertainment and beautiful CGI visuals.
While the film is technically a sequel to the original, little prior knowledge of the original’s plot is required to understand or enjoy this film. Despite the implications of the title, it manages to avoid the pitfalls of many sequels by self-consciously avoiding direct emulation of the original’s plot elements, though the basic premise is similar, if somewhat inverted.
Dory, a Blue Tang who suffers from amnesia every ten seconds, suddenly realises after a year of living in the Great Barrier Reef, that she has long-lost parents. Resultantly, she, along with her two Clownfish friends, Marlin and his son Nemo, being a long journey to the Californian coast in an attempt to find her forgotten parents.
The story itself, intercut with flashbacks from Dory’s childhood (or would that be fryhood?), is sentimentally written to grip the heartstrings and throttle them into a state of both melancholy and heartwarmth. Those of cynical disposition, unpersuaded by the film’s sentimentality, may find comfort from a well-voice acted cast of comedic incidental characters, of particular mention are Idris Elba and Dominic West’s sea lions, and Ed O’Neill’s memorable ‘Hank’, a dryly funny octopus who provides some well needed savouriness to the sometimes saccharine film.
This film has exceptional CGI coral and anemones, and, much like its original, manages to well realise a variety of distinctive saline environments and a colourful plethora of fish, cetaceans, cephalopods, crustaceans and echinoderms. Where the film stumbles are in its depiction of human characters, who while suitably diverse and convincing in their behaviours, are slightly clunky in their animation. However, the various sea-creatures are the real characters of the film, and this thankfully is a minor gripe.
While it makes an effort to differentiate itself from the first film, with a notably different setting an inverted premise (a child searches for her parents, rather than a parent searching for his child), and demonstrates a sensitive treatment of disability, it does not walk drastically in the way of challenging territory. The film does, to its credit, subtly address man’s treatment of the ocean and its creatures through environmental details and the film’s main setting, though it feels disappointingly neutral in addressing them.
In conclusion, Finding Dory is a funny and gentle film well suited to a rainy afternoon, or when one wishes for something other than CGI robots smashing into each other.