Before the screening of Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory, my 6-year-old asked: “Is this going to be the same as Finding Nemo, but now Dory’s lost?”
Even a child knows when a story remains the same. Luckily for the visually stunning Finding Dory, the storyline swims upstream just enough for your family to want to return to the characters that stole your hearts in the 2003 original film.
In Nemo, the loveable clownfish (voiced in Dory by Hayden Rolence) is taken from his home in the Great Barrier Reef and ends up in a dentist’s office. His father, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and forgetful blue tang fish Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) search across the ocean to save him.
Fast-forward a year later, and Dory, who is happily living with Marlin and Nemo, begins to have flashbacks of her family beyond the reef. Dory has always suffered from short-term memory loss — it’s what has endeared and frustrated those close to her. In fact, she’s constantly apologizing for her forgetfulness. When she suddenly remembers moments of her childhood, her instincts kick in and she sets out to find her long-lost parents.
On Dory’s journey to find her mom (Diane Keaton) and dad (Eugene Levy), she meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), a testy octopus and escape artist; Bailey (Ty Burrell), an overdramatic beluga whale; and Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark.
The film nicely fleshes out the back story of Dory, who was an affable but two-dimensional character in Finding Nemo. Parents will appreciate the exploration of Dory’s short-term memory loss to teach how one’s struggles could turn into strengths.
Another huge improvement from its predecessor is the animation, from the way the kelp sways in the ocean to Hank’s camouflaging metamorphosis. The filmmakers provide a dynamic, colorful backdrop worthy of 3-D viewing.
Finding Dory is preceded by another stellar animated short, Piper, the story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling trying to find food for the first time.
What you’ll most remember about this film is that it is about family — the memories you make as a family, the stories you remember, the experiences that connect us.
As Dory says, “just keep swimming” — straight to the movie theater.
☆☆☆☆ 1/2 (out of five)
Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Cast: Voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
Rated: PG (mild thematic elements)
Running time: 97 min.