Pixar has long been the gold standard of family entertainment. Even their average efforts are enjoyable and, when they are at their best, they make classics.
“Finding Nemo” was one of those classics, filled with stunning animation and a heartwarming story. A scant 13 years later, “Finding Dory” picks right up where its predecessor left off in both tone and quality.
Dory is the lovable blue tang fish with short-term memory loss perfectly voiced by Ellen DeGeneres.
When a memory does stir in Dory, it is of her parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton). Dory becomes determined to find them, so with her pals, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in tow, she travels across the ocean looking for a reunion.
Her search leads her to a large aquarium, where she meets all manner of marine life, including a cranky octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill), a nearsighted whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and a beluga whale who has lost his ability to echolocate named Bailey (Ty Burrell).
There’s too much fun here to spoil, but Dory’s adventure takes many twists and turns and is nothing short of a joyous movie-going experience.
What’s great about Pixar is none of its emotional moments are pandering or feel forced. “Finding Dory” has plenty of laughs and lots of spectacle, but when it drives home the underlying themes of family and determination, it earns every bit of it.
Naturally, the animation is jaw-dropping as the screen bursts with detail and this is one of those rare movies that is actually worth the 3D upgrade. It’s also worth sticking around after the credits for a gag that will certainly delight fans of the first film.
Disney also continues to include animated shorts before their movies, which I think is one of the best trends and I hope they stick with it. The short before “Finding Dory” is called “Piper” and it is about a baby sandpiper learning the ropes in searching for food along the shoreline. The story is cute, but the animation is gorgeous with precise detail paid to the tiny scale and viewpoint of the protagonist. Look for it in the Animated Short category at next year’s Oscars.
“Finding Dory” is dependably great and is the perfect summer distraction for your family. Don’t miss it.
“Finding Dory” is rated PG for mild thematic elements.