Many years ago, Dory was separated from her family. Due to her short term memory loss, she lost them and couldn’t remember much about them. That will all change when she suddenly remembers details that send her on another journey across the ocean, searching for her parents.
I’ll be honest here. When I heard there was going to be a sequel to Finding Nemo, I was skeptical. I knew Ellen Degeneres (the voice of Dory) had been campaigning for a sequel for over a decade, but the thought of there actually being a sequel, especially with Dory as the main character left me with a lot of doubt.
This sequel, titled Finding Dory, eventually hit theaters over the summer of 2016. It brought back the voice talents of Ellen Degeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin. Due to the difference in real time, the voice of Nemo was changed from Alexander Gould (who is now in his 20s) to child actor Hayden Rolence. New voices added to the cast include Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Ed O’Neill (Modern Family), Idris Elba (Zootopia), Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy.
My worries about a Finding Nemo sequel didn’t stem from the amount of time that had passed since the original. My worries were because I didn’t know if Dory could be a compelling lead character. In Finding Nemo, a lot of her funny moments were great, as a side character. Would these elements translate well to a lead character?
For the first half of Finding Dory, I’d say that my worries were justified. In the beginning, the story uses Dory’s memory problems as comedic moments, and this gets old very quickly. Finding Dory also brings back a lot of bits from her character in Finding Nemo, such as her ability to “speak whale,” which is explained and somehow made more annoying. There is a whole lot of yelling that goes on throughout the movie. That’s really all I can remember from most of it. It feels very chaotic, and I found it hard to really be interested in the plot.
I will say that as the story reaches a mid-point, it does improve. At this point, Dory starts to figure out how she can accomplish things on her own. As soon as this starts to happen, the story gets better. There is less yelling. You can see who Dory really is, and the flare that had been missing starts to show up. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any more ridiculous parts to the story, but they are much easier to handle.
I have always appreciated Finding Nemo‘s attempt to include disabled characters. Finding Dory continues this, maintaining the presence of Nemo (who has one small fin), Dory (who has short term memory loss), and adding the presence of Bailey (who is recovering from a concussion), Destiny (who is nearsighted), Hank (who is missing a tentacle), as well as others. As I always say, representation matters!
Keep in mind, I’m viewing this from an adult standpoint. I’m not aware how children will appreciate this movie because I wasn’t able to watch it with children. I didn’t have a theater experience with this one. Overall, I’m glad I didn’t, but there are some points, such as children’s reactions, that I wish I had seen in order to give that perspective.
Overall, critic reviews of Finding Dory are extremely positive. I can’t say I agree with this. Lately, I’ve been more disappointed by Pixar films than normal. I wasn’t entirely impressed by Inside Out, and based on their upcoming releases, they’re starting to fall back on more sequels than new ideas. Finding Dory does have some redeeming moments, but it’s no match to the original by any means.