Finally, thirteen long years after the release of Disney Pixar’s much-loved marine tale Finding Nemo, Andrew Stanton brings audiences young and old the much-anticipated sequel Finding Dory. The news of Finding Dory came as no surprise when, in 2013, Ellen DeGeneres made the announcement on her TV show. It's a project she’d been trying to put together since the conclusion of one of the most popular animated features ever released. After seeing it though, we’re wondering if audiences really needed a sequel.
Finding Dory picks up right where Finding Nemo left off, with Marlin, Dory, and Nemo living together happily in the Great Barrier Reef. That is, until Dory remembers a small part of her past, forcing her to recall the family she was separated from during her childhood. Marlin, understanding the importance of finding family (Finding Nemo was, after all, about finding Nemo), hesitatingly agrees to search for Dory’s family. The three set off to find the missing pieces of Dory’s memory with the hope of uniting Dory with her parents. If you’ve seen Finding Nemo, then you know there’s going to be some obstacles along the way. From encounters with giant squid to Marlin and Nemo losing Dory, the task they’re trying to achieve ends up being more of a challenge than they had set out for.
Although the movie sounds like a traditional adventure tale, Finding Dory tries a little too hard to make it something more and ends up creating a jumbled mess. The film goes from one storyline - operation find Dory’s parents - and turns into a series of storylines: Find Dory’s parents, find Dory, find Dory again, reunite Dory and her parents again, get Hank the octopus on the truck to Cleveland, etc. But one has to wonder if this whirlpool of hurdles is a set up for narrating short-term memory loss, which for those of you who don’t know, Dory has.
What the film lacks in thoroughness though, it makes up for in humor, cute creatures, and marine life fun facts. When Marlin, Nemo, and Dory find themselves at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, they’re met by a welcome message from Sigourney Weaver that rings through the entire park. This right here, despite the irritating amount of storylines and plot twists, should be reason enough to go see Finding Dory. It’s here that audiences learn about Octopi, Beluga Whales, and the fear sea creatures may or may not experience in the Touch Pool. At times, Finding Dory feels more like a Highlights magazine rather than a well-constructed feature film, but that doesn’t necessarily equate it to being a bad movie. Finding Dory is an interactive children’s tale with the occasional adult joke (Dory almost fills Mr. Ray’s class in on where babies come from). If you’re on the fence about it, ask yourself whether or not marine life and Sigourney Weaver’s voice is worth the time and money, and decide from there. If you do end up seeing it though, be sure to stay through the credits to find out what some of the characters from Finding Nemo have been up to.
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Samantha Ladwig is a writer, book reviewer, and the owner of Imprint Bookstore in Port Townsend, Washington. Her work has been published by New York Magazine, Bustle, Real Simple, Vice, Bust Magazine, and others. Find her at www.samanthaladwig.com.