Finding Dory is the sequel to Finding Nemo as well as the 17th overall film by Pixar. The story for this movie is that Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, starts to have random flashbacks of her past that include her parents, and now she sets off with Marlin and Nemo to find them only to end up captured by humans and taken to an aquarium where they now have to escape while looking for Dory's parents.
The first Finding Nemo film is a one of my personal favorite Pixar films. It's a great example of what this studio is capable of when there's actual effort in making a movie with the right amount of heart, adventure, humor, and fun. Then there's Cars 2, a shameless cash cow with none of the stuff listed above whilst pointlessly making a supporting character our main protagonist. Finding Dory takes that same formula by making Dory, the mentally stunted fish, our hero with her own personal story. The best part is, however, that there's actual heart, humor, and effort put in this movie, making for a well made Pixar sequel.
Ellen DeGeneres stars as Dory, being given a much bigger role that has the potential to come off as unnecessary or even annoying. I know of a few people who find Dory's character to be annoying, but I'm not one of them, so I really enjoyed DeGeneres being on the front lines in this movie. With her in the role, she brings everything to the table in order to make the character likeable and charming enough to carry her own movie. She has the passion, energy, and overall emotion to bring the character to life and she's easily the standout in terms of voice acting, but that's not to discredit any of the other voice actors.
Albert Brooks returns as Marlin in a noticeably smaller role than before, but he still makes you buy the overly-protective father and friend to Nemo and Dory. The newcomers include Modern Family stars Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill giving humorous performances, Kaitlin Olson playing a whale shark in a quirky role, and even Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy in small, but well acted roles as Dory's parents. All of the voice acting was on point as per usual with most Pixar film, so it's nice to see that the creators still have a knack for picking the right voices for their movies.
I also liked that this movie wasn't a 100% rehash of "Finding Nemo". There are certainly familiar elements as well as small homages and references to the first movie, but everything I thought would be a reused plot point happened differently in the movie as opposed to how it looked in the trailers. New characters serve a new purpose in the story, the plot is simple, yet still simultaneously a breath of fresh air in taking new turns for our characters, and old characters who return from the first movie still play the same role as before, but it's still relevant to the plot and never did any of it feel fully recycled or lazy.
Where this movie's big story strength lies is in Dory herself. Her short term memory loss was something that was used mostly for laughs in the first movie and even though it still creates some humorous moments in this movie, it's a big part in the overall message for the audience. The film's purpose is to take this mentally handicapped character and use her handicap as a means to further her arc and have her past come full circle in a way that can be satisfying for both adults and kids. It's a heartwarming message that certain audience members will relate to and it furthers the lesson of "Just keep swimming" for everyone who sees this movie.
The one issue I took from this movie is that the series of events that transpire in the third act feel too outlandish and unrealistic, even for a Pixar film. The last 15 minutes of this movie required a lot of suspension of disbelief for me, but I wasn't able to look past any of the ludicrous stuff happening. I won't go into any major spoiler detail, but let's just say that certain events seem to defy what you'd expect from just animals in general. Yes, I know that fish don't really speak, but that's not what I'm referring to. If you've seen the movie, you probably know what I'm talking about. It's basically just these moments that felt like a conglomeration of forced scenarios to bring the climax to a dramatic end.
All of that said, Finding Dory was a very good, highly enjoyable movie that can join the ranks of legitimately good Pixar films, as well as the good Pixar sequels, AKA the last two Toy Story movies. It's an animated movie for people of any age with great animation, a good lesson, entertaining characters, and just the right amount of adventure to follow up Finding Nemo. If you're an adult or teen who wants to see this movie, go right ahead. My screening for this movie was mostly teens and young adults around my age more so than little kids, so go ahead enjoy this movie regardless of age.
Rating: Full Price!