Finding Dory is a beautifully animated adventure in and out of the water that provides an entertaining supplement or chapter to the classic story of Finding Nemo. it is thought-provoking, poignant and funny at the same time. It is a fantastic follow up with a lot of great lines, emotional hooks and absolutely zero stinkers no matter if it closely hews to the same plot as its predecessor’s. Using the Pacific Coast of California as a setting instead of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Finding Dory follows an eventful afternoon at an aquatic park, or the Marine Life Institute, with the recorded voice of Sigourney Weaver in the background constantly reassuring any PC-oriented visitors that the facility has been designed not to cater to human amusement but to “Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release.”
Aside from optimizing the multi-hued plant life and underwater inhabitants of its predecessor, Finding Dory also leverages on its talented cast of celebrity voice actors beginning with Ellen DeGeneres who vocally gives life to the blue tang Dory with her childlike glee and buoyant spirit. Dory is a fearless blue tang afflicted with short term memory loss, which had proven valuable during the most critical times when daddy clownfish Marlin was searching for his young son Nemo. Dory always acts in the moment because of her short-term memory loss, and this served to be more beneficial than anything.
Ellen DeGeneres shows she is the perfect one for the role with her sometimes giddy and sometimes goofy persona, this time with Marlin and Nemo assisting her instead of the other way around. The story may not be a fresh one since the script was penned and directed yet again by Andrew Stanton with Victoria Strouse as a co-writer and Angus MacLane as co-director. The characters here seem to defy all logic since they are able to swim through pipes and jump from one liquid container to another at the institute with amazing skill. You even have the octopus Hank driving a runaway truck on a busy highway despite the fact he can’t reach the pedals or view the road over the dashboard.
However, the movie tugs at the heartstrings if it doesn’t succeed at beguiling the mind. With the same overwhelming parental concern that Marlin had for Nemo in the first movie, Dory’s parents, Charlie and Jenny (voiced by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton) make Dory understand the importance of telling everyone she meets that she has “short term remember-y loss”. Her learning disability leads Dory to become a helpless child whose memory almost instantly vaporizes, making her forget what she has forgotten in the first place. This results in her being dragged by the undertow and separating her from her parents to devastating effect.
The movie revs up when a now older Dory gets an electrifying flashback that makes her realize she actually has parents and she is off to find them with a supportive Nemo and a perpetually grumpy Marlin in tow. Although her initial purpose is to locate her family, the journey proves to be one of self-discovery for the blue tang, who experiences snatches of defining memory through it all, albeit briefly every time. The seagulls that chant “Mine! Mine! Mine!” are in the movie, and so are Mr. Ray, the fish-school instructor, and turtle dude Crush and Squirt, his son. The new characters aside from Squirt are the octopus Hank, a near-sighted whale shark (acted by Kaitlin Olson), a brain-addled beluga whale (voiced by Ty Burrell of “Modern Family”) and a pair of lazy Cockney sea lions (portrayed in voice by Idris Elba and Dominic West) with their crazy cohort Gerald.
Although Marlin seems to refuse to help the heroine in her quest, all the other creatures are more than willing to assist. The ending is heartbreakingly happy and the after-credits sequence is just a sign that the filmmakers don’t really know when to say enough is enough. Overall, this is not a fresh take but it succeeds well enough on its own.