Finding Dory

Pixar Finds Sequel Success

Posted in Movie Reviews on July 04, 2016
Prod 42

Andrew Stanton

Running Time
97 min

The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.

Sequelitis may be a made-up term, but it’s a condition that has plagued Hollywood for decades. The ability to strike gold twice in the same movie universe is a rare and challenging task for any movie studio. It involves the careful calibration of many factors such as having something new to say, pushing the limits of the original film, and above all timing. Many times sequels feel like hashed out repeats of the original because “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, making sequels feel more like a 1.5 than an actual 2.0. Pushing the limits of the original film often ends up following the mantra of “Bigger is Better” with bigger budgets and visual effects which while may be attractive to eye, end up diluting the magic enraptured in the original the same way when you add too much water to your protein shake: it doesn’t taste as well. Finally with timing, it’s important to release a sequel within a set time period so as to cultivate a fan base that will go see the sequel or else it ends up forgotten, in the way that Independence Day: Resurgence came out 20 years after the original. That being said, release a sequel too early, and you often find that many elements have been rushed. To this day, film studios are still trying to crack the ‘formula’ to make the perfect sequel and while Finding Dory may not be applicable to all sequels, it sure showcases the preservation of the original’s magic and talent.

Finding Nemo came out 13 years ago and never left a hint towards developing a sequel apart from its financial box office success, so when Pixar announced the news of a sequel, skepticism quickly arose. Was it just another cash grab? Had Pixar run out of original content after Inside Out? All these questions plagued audiences’ minds going in and even the title itself Finding Dory foreshadowed that it was just another case of “Same Story, Different Character” syndrome. That being said, walking out of the cinema, one could not be gladly more wrong as Finding Dory is a powerful addition to the Nemo universe making it not only entertaining for children, but for adults as well.

In regards to story, Finding Dory focuses on the lovable Blue Tang that captured audiences in the original and voiced by the celebrated Ellen DeGeneres. As a sequel/ origin story, Finding Dory finds itself jumping seamlessly between the past and present in a manner that adds weight to the film as the audience progresses through the film at the same pace as Dory, unlocking her memories scene by scene. Surprisingly, Finding Dory changes setting from the vastness of the open ocean from the first film, and confines itself to a Marine Life Institute, going against the “Bigger Is Better” tactic adamant to Hollywood. It works rather well as it allows Finding Dory to avoid retreading similar territory and allows for Pixar to focus on Dory’s character development quite well, while nonetheless still be able to showcase a variety of different entertaining and original characters. Tackling gripping themes of family and identity, Finding Dory not only delivers an educational message to its young audiences about embracing who you are, but it also serves as a touching reminder to older audiences about acceptance and loving someone for who they are.

Voice casting is probably a very undermined aspect to animated feature films, as actors are restricted to giving their performances solely through one medium: their voice. It is no surprise then that Pixar has chosen top talent to execute this job as while Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their roles, popular names such as Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, and Idris Elba join the cast to enhance the film’s performance. From tone to gravitas, the voice acting from the cast is nothing one could ever complain about as the audience is further sucked in to the wonderful universe created by Pixar.

Lastly, no Pixar film would be spectacular without a spectacle, as the studio showcases some of its finest animation yet. The glaring crispiness and smooth animation just proves the radical transformation the studio has taken over the decades to perfect its animation. The construction and design of the environments to the smallest scales on each fish, there is an impeccable attention to detail here which makes a 3D viewing that much more worth it. Regardless of whether you’re invested into the story or not, your eyes shall be pealed to the screen throughout.

At the end of the day, Finding Dory is a sequel nobody ever really asked for, but a sequel people deserve as Pixar proves that bigger is not necessarily always better and that powerful storytelling can go a long way to the overall enjoyment of a film. Enjoyable for the little ones and powerful for adults, Finding Dory exemplifies what a Family movie should be as its message is one not to be missed.

In Summary

The Good
  • Powerful Storytelling
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Stellar Voice Casting
The Bad