Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane's Finding Dory is a less-than-worthy follow-up to Finding Nemo, failing to re-capture that magic at almost every mark. Just keep swimming right past this mostly mediocre and unnecessary sequel.
Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton returns for the follow-up sequel Finding Dory, joined by co-director Angus MacLane and the return of the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks and various others. Finding Dory is a mostly harmless sequel that retreads familiar waters, while occasionally attempting to further the adventures of Dory, Nemo and friends. Unfortunately, the film sinks more than it swims, proving that Dory’s character is good in small doses, but not strong enough to carry a film.
Finding Dory takes place sometime shortly after the events of Finding Nemo. It follows Dory (voiced with a usual amount of pep by Ellen DeGeneres) as she slowly starts to gain more memories about her parents and begins her journey across the sea to find them once and for all.
Joining her is Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and his dad Marlin (Albert Brooks) as they help their friend find her family.
The problem with Finding Dory is rooted in the idea that not all films need sequels and continued to be proven as Dory’s cheerfulness and weirdness proves not enough to hold Finding Dory up on its own, especially when compared to the much more enjoyable Finding Nemo.
Admittedly, I never thought Finding Nemo was all that special, but I do own it and sometimes revisit it, because Pixar films often look gorgeous on Blu-ray and the characters are charming enough to warrant a watch from time-to-time.
Nemo has mostly held up over the years, but it’s always remained one of those one-off ideas from Pixar that I never really wanted a sequel to. But I was proven wrong with Monsters University, which happened to breathe new life into familiar Pixar characters that I didn’t know I missed so much.
That film gave us a different take on the characters, yet felt like a sequel that belonged right beside Monsters Inc.
Finding Dory sticks out as a film that feels awfully dated, yet not exactly necessary. Nemo and Marlin are forced out as the spotlight shines on Dory, which is to be expected given the film’s title.
Yet Finding Dory struggles, because Dory just isn’t all that interesting. Ellen DeGeneres provides a voice that’s exciting and eccentric, yet even she can’t save a one-note character from growing stale before the film even takes off.
Dory’s quirky and silly and yet not the type of character to hold the thematic strings of the film. She worked much better as a strong supporting character in Nemo. It’s not like the writing is particularly bad or anything, but there’s just no real urgency in the film, despite it focusing on Dory’s search for her family.
Maybe I just didn’t care as much because I thought Nemo and Marlin were more than enough or maybe because Stanton and his writers pick and choose when to use Dory’s short term memory loss against her or in her favor.
There’s no real rhyme or reason as to the logic of the main character’s one main fault and it’s distracting and annoying.
Also, in Finding Nemo the fish had a much larger struggle escaping small and stationary fish tanks, yet in Finding Dory they seem to hop and jump from tank to tank, while moving. This might seem like minor complaints, but it does reveal a completely different tone.
Finding Nemo was fun for the whole family, while Finding Dory is simply fun for the kids. I wouldn’t quite compare it to the awful Cars franchise, but I can definitely see where Pixar rounded out the more adult corners with entertainment that’s more silly and slapstick for the little ones.
Maybe Finding Nemo and Finding Dory were never meant for me? Or maybe director Andrew Stanton only retreated back to his ocean animated series because he got the boot after his amazingly under-rated live action film John Carter tanked? I hate to simplify an entire film down to that, but Finding Dory radiates the feeling of pointlessness and reminds me why I don’t always get excited for sequels, regardless of Disney/Pixar’s involvement.
Take the film’s own advice and just keep swimming right past this film onto something hopefully better. This summer has been mostly kind to us and there’s no reason you should have to waste precious theater time on a mediocre sequel that’s well-made on a technical level, but completely hollow and emotionally void where it counts.
Finding Dory is an unnecessary sequel that manages to wrangle in a few laughs here and there, but will mostly remind you of the fact that above all else Pixar is a movie studio that wants to make money even if that means turning out a complete cash grab just for the sake of it.