*No worries. This review is entirely spoiler-free!*
I don’t know about you, but I vividly remember seeing Finding Nemo on the big screen back in 2003. I was eight years old at the time. Thirteen years later, it’s still one of my favorite animated films and is, in my opinion, one of Pixar’s best efforts. And here we are now with its long-awaited sequel: Finding Dory.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. Normally, I’m pretty good at predicting whether a movie will be good or not by watching its trailer(s). But even after watching multiple promos and trailers for this movie, I couldn’t tell which way it would swing. I was equally skeptical and hopeful. I would just have to wait and see.
Well, I waited. And I saw it. Now it’s time to review it!
The story, of course, centers around everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory. It’s been a year since the events of Finding Nemo, and Dory finally remembers that she has a family out there somewhere. With the help of Marlin, Nemo, and a cast of other characters both old and new, she sets out to reunite with them.
Overall, I found the story to be well-done and engaging. The opening scene is very strong, pulling you right in and making you feel things (one of the things Pixar is best at). After that, though, things do get choppy and uneven for a while. One minute the movie is fast-paced and fun, and the next it gets lost in some awkwardly written dialogue scenes. Thankfully, the movie does get better as it goes on, but I did find it a bit unstable here and there. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but I think it was a combination of some of the dialogue needing to be ironed out, some pacing issues, and some trouble on the writers’ part figuring out how much they needed to re-establish the characters that we already know.
Most of those problems happen in the first act and (for the most part) diminish as the film goes on, thankfully. And in the end, I was satisfied with how the whole story played out. There were laughs, and there were also tears. The film has a great message about overcoming weaknesses, specifically disabilities; Dory, of course, has short-term memory loss, while other characters have a missing tentacle or nearsightedness. I do think the message could have been better-integrated into the plot, but as it was, it worked. I found the flashback scenes with Dory’s parents to be particularly touching, watching them do their best to care for their daughter and teach her to do things on her own despite her memory problem.
So, no, I don’t think the story is as good as that of Finding Nemo, but I do think it works well in its own right, despite a few problems.
One of the film’s strongest elements is its characters. Dory is obviously a standout, both funny and endearing — more so the latter than the former in this film. Marlin is as great as ever, but sadly, Nemo doesn’t really have much to do in the story. He’s just kind of . . . there. It’s unfortunate, because one of the best things about the first film was how well it balanced its two plotlines: Marlin and Dory searching for Nemo, and Nemo’s experiences in the fish tank. Here, the focus is on Dory, and the parts that center around her are good, but whenever the film switched to a character moment between Marlin and Nemo, I didn’t find it to be particularly interesting.
On the plus side, though, we get some great new characters that are definitely worth remembering: Hank the octopus (er, septopus), Destiny the whale shark, and Bailey the beluga are the main standouts. They were great fun in different ways, and they stack up well with the memorable side characters from the original. Oh, and then there’s Gerald. Gerald is arguably the best part of the movie. Be sure to stay after the credits for more of Gerald. And hey, Pixar? How about Finding Gerald for the threequel? Please? Can you make that happen? I need more Gerald!
The movie is visually stunning, as one would expect from Pixar. The water, the diverse ocean life, the movements of the characters, the lighting, the vivid colors . . . it all comes together in a beautiful package, doing a wonderful job of immersing you into its world. It sounds great, too, from the lovely score by Thomas Newman to the more subtle things like how the characters’ voices echo underwater. Great stuff.
So. That’s actually pretty much everything I wanted to say about this film! In conclusion, Finding Dory is a solid sequel. It sometimes has trouble finding its footing, but when it works, it really does work. No, it’s not as good as Finding Nemo, at least in my opinion. It’s not as moving, it’s not as funny, and it’s not as well-rounded a film. But it’s a good movie all the same, and one that is absolutely worth seeing. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts! What did you think of the movie? Leave me a comment!
Next time, I’ll have some reactions, thoughts, and general discussion about all the new information we got about the new Zelda game at E3! Until then!