Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Directed by: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson
Finding Dory picks up the story a year after the original, following Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) as she travels on a quest to find her family, regaining lost memories along the way. Dory discovers her family comes from the Marine Life Institute in California but is separated from Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) on the way in. She has to traverse the facility with the help of new friends and old in the hope of finding her family. Thankfully the film manages to avoid being a total retread of the original, centring mostly on one location as opposed to being a road trip (sea trip?) movie.
Sadly the supporting cast are not as memorable or interesting as the characters from the first film. Dory is paired with the grumpy Hank (Ed O’Neill), a seven-legged octopus, for much of the adventure. Hank is quite one-note, the classic cranky character who is softened by his time with Dory. Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a near-sighted whale shark, and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga who believes he has lost his echolocation ability (which is essentially sonar), are much more likeable but at times feel overused, conveniently assisting Dory at every turn. The film is consistently funny but very few moments are truly hilarious, with many jokes being repeated ad nauseam. The sea lions (as played by Idris Elba and Dominic West) are good for a few laughs, even if they do essentially only have one comedy routine. Mad loon Becky also provides a great deal of physical comedy with her erratic behaviour.
Where the film excels is in its emotional core, creating a story that can provide heartwarming sweetness with a dose of sad moments throughout. Dory’s short-term memory loss is used less for comic effect this time around, with the effects that memory loss has on a person being explored. As the film progresses Dory experiences more flashbacks of her former life, showing parents trying their best to cope with a daughter who struggles to recall anything. The fact that Dory has forgotten her family is incredibly sad and the film doesn’t shy away from this.
Finding Dory is a very different sort of children’s film in many ways, not least due to its exploration of mental health issues. At times the story feels a little rushed and the film’s ending is slightly anticlimactic, providing a conclusion that is perhaps too perfect, but as a whole the film succeeds. Don’t expect it to be as funny as Finding Nemo but be prepared: Finding Dory is likely to make you cry and it will truly earn your tears.