Somehow it took 13 long years for a sequel to surface for Disney/Pixar’s Oscar-winning animated classic Finding Nemo. But bringing the charmingly memory-challenged fish Dory to the forefront, returning director and co-writer Andrew Stanton has made another irresistible fish-in-the-water tale that not only should please its kid fan base but also their parents. And once again, Pixar is blessed to have the perfect vocal acting match for Dory in Ellen DeGeneres, who clearly owns this character.
In this outing, Dory, who was separated from her parents (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) when she was a wee little one, becomes obsessed with being reunited with them, convinced they are living at the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay, CA, half a world away from her Australian digs. Enlisting old friends Nemo and his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) to accompany her on this journey (helped by the surfer-dude turtle Crush in a cameo), Dory surfaces there miraculously emerging from the water to hear the voice of none other than Sigourney Weaver welcoming visitors to the park while invoking MLI’s motto and mantra of “Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release.” The Weaver bits throughout are perfectly pitched and quite droll.
Plotwise in Stanton and Victoria Strouse’s script, in no time Dory is scooped up and tagged for eventual shipment to an aquarium in Cleveland. But this isn’t her goal as she must find her parents. There to help is a shape-shifting and scene-stealing octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neil) whose secret motivation is to grab her tag so he, afraid of being returned to the open sea, can live out his life in the aquarium instead. Hank gets the lion’s share of laughs in the movie as he is constantly thwarted in his goal, but grows to be a good friend to Dory. There is also a blind shark, a whale with a bit of head trauma and no sense of direction, and a couple of lazy sea lions to also provide the humor here for a story that is much more frenetic and action-filled than its predecessor, but one that will certainly keep the audience with it all the way — even when it gets outlandishly over the top in the final act.
As I say in my video review above, Finding Nemo, at just under a billion-dollar gross worldwide, remains the second-highest moneymaker for Pixar following Toy Story 3 — another sequel that proved you don’t have to stint on quality. Dory follows in that proud Pixar tradition. While Stanton’s follow-up may be about a fish that repeats herself, the movie bearing her name never falls into that trap, and it and should be finding equal box office and critical success. Lindsey Collins produced, and Disney releases the film in all kinds of formats Friday.
Do you plan to see Finding Dory? Let us know what you think.