The follow-up to Pixar’s hugely successful Finding Nemo (2003) has been anticipated for 13 years with Finding Dorywinning our high praise. The storyline captivated us from the very beginning with beautiful imagery and lighting queues that transported us down into the sea alongside the characters.
The film slightly mirrors Finding Nemo with Dory taking on the “lost child” role as she searches for her parents, Charlie and Jenny. Though Dory’s usual short-term memory still plagues her, it’s the memory flashes of her past that really get the story going.
With the film primarily taking place a year after Finding Nemo (with the exception of Dory’s flashbacks), Marlin and Nemo assume the side-kick role as they help Dory venture through the Marine Life Institute in California meeting a new cast of unforgettable characters along the way. (Spoilers below.)
We were thrilled that the film felt wholly original despite having familiar characters and similar story elements. The fast-paced editing and wonderful direction by Andrew Stanton (and co-Director, Angus MacLane) hooks you so intensely that you can’t look away for even a moment without missing something. Of course, the visuals were equally stunning — the work the team put into making us feel as if we were in a real aquarium absolutely paid off. The feel, the lighting, the colors — everything felt true-to-life and allowed the audience to become even more immersed in the film.
Immersion into the story was also intensified by Thomas Newman’s dark, delicate and action-packed score. (Read our entire review of the Finding Dory score/soundtrack.) The writing and vocal cast were also superb as well — it was great hearing the quick-hitting and witty vocal pacing (similar to many of Pixar’s classic films).
The vocal cast within the film proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the heartwarming storyline with our emotions reeling from young Dory (voiced by Sloane Murray). The innocence and vulnerability behind young Dory imprinted on our hearts and had us rooting for her in a much different way than in Finding Nemo.\
Speaking of Dory, Ellen DeGeneres’ performance is brilliant and she delivers her most emotional work to date — we’re still not sure how she pulled off some of the subtle vocal nuances she did when reuniting with her parents, or in other moments of introspection.
While Dory melted our hearts, it was the secondary characters of Gerald, Becky, Fluke, and Rudder that had us roaring in laughter. Quite often Pixar employees are used to doing vocal work on characters during development (known as “scratch vocals”) and although they don’t always make the final cut, sometimes pure magic happens and the Pixar employee’s vocal work stays put. This was the case with editor Torbin Xan Bullock who voices both Becky the Loon and Gerald the sea lion.
Did you also catch Pixar’s lucky charm, John Ratzenberger’s vocal cameo? He voiced the husband crab, Bill who was clipping the hedges as his wife told Dory to go into the undertow. If you want to dig into the many more of the easter eggs (A-113, Pixar ball, Lava reference, etc), head over to the forum to view even more of the hidden items in the film and let us know if you spotted any as well.
WRAP UP & CREDITS
As the film wrapped, one particular moment has stuck with us — the ending scene with Dory and Marlin looking over the drop-off (and taking in the view) was pure artistry. The way the team used this scene to call back to the opening scene in Finding Nemo was not lost on us as we appreciated the series coming full circle.
When the credits began to roll, the Finding Dory team showcased a few additional humorous moments with Hank still on the loose throughout the Marine Life Institute — camouflaging himself in random scenes (even alongside the loudmouth clam voiced by director, Andrew Stanton).
We likewise loved the scene at the end of the credits with the Tank Gang from Finding Nemo along with the hilarious moment with Gerald the sea lion. Gerald is so hilarious in the film that he left us wanting to know his background and we secretly have our fingers crossed that we’ll see more of the uni-browed sea lion as a Blu-ray extra.
Rotten Tomatoes has now officially certified the film as “Fresh” — This is extremely exciting as both Julie and T.J. likewise give the film a 90% rating. We recommend the film highly for its humor, nostalgia, and fresh writing.
Congratulations to the entire Finding Dory team on their hard work and dedication put forth on the film — it is truly paying off with audiences roaring in laughter, welling up with tears and immediately telling their friends to go see Finding Dory once it’s over. We can’t wait to see it many more times in theaters.
Be sure to share your thoughts with other Pixar fans on Finding Dory in the Pixar Post Forum or by leaving a comment below.