Finding Dory begins with an opening sequence as heartbreaking as the first few minutes of Finding Nemo that sees a terrified young Dory trying to find her way home, and her ceaseless search ultimately weaves into her initial entrance in the previous film. While it acknowledges its predecessor with a few references and familiar cameos from the likes of Mr Ray, Crush the sea turtle, and the “Mine! Mine! Mine!” seagulls – as a well as a post-credits scene from others you thought had been forgotten about – Finding Dory is very much its own story and in no way seeks to capitalise on the success of its predecessor.
Flashbacks abound as Dory remembers more and more about her childhood, which also serve to shape her parents into actual characters and not just the nebulous goal of her search. Their love and affection for baby Dory (who, at the risk of reactionary hyperbole, might actually be the most adorable Pixar creation yet) clearly shaped the development of the considerate individual she grew into, and never let her believe for a moment that her unreliable memory is a handicap or something she should be embarrassed about.
While Dory’s life might be perceived as being hamstrung by her forgetfulness, this in no way diminishes her worth or capability. She lives from one moment to the next, her every thought and decision taken on instantaneous instinct. Even after losing Marlin and Nemo, it never crosses her mind that without their help she should just give up, and it’s her perpetual upbeat optimism that soon wins over the new allies in her quest. Indeed, at one point Marlin comes to realise that “What would Dory do?” is not always as reckless and inadvisable a course of action as he had assumed.
As much as the plot features Marlin and Nemo searching for Dory, the title more specifically refers to the personal journey Dory undergoes that allows her to fully come to terms with herself. Her feeling the need to be constantly contrite for the inconvenience her memory problems causes for others (count the number of times she says “I’m sorry” as the film progresses) is a response she has evidently developed over the years after realising how others generally react to her. However, while her memory might make some interactions with her repetitive or frustrating, it’s a part of who she is, and as such is something for which she should not be expected to apologise. Her ultimate acceptance of this is as much a necessary part of becoming whole as a person (or rather fish) as being reunited with her parents.
Pixar’s deft touches to entertain adults are again evident in force (a wonderful riff on Labyrinth’s “Go back!” is a particular standout) and even throwaway encounters that last for mere moments, such as a lovesick clam or a migrating group of rays singing a sea shanty, are afforded as much detail and consideration as any moment of the main plot. The company has never been one to spare the emotions of its viewers, and no matter what your age you’ll find certain moments tugging on your heartstrings and starting to get you a little misty-eyed, especially at more than one turn of events when despair sets in after no apparent way out is evident. While you might second-guess some developments due to another outcome running counter to Pixar’s dramatic sensibilities or devious sense of humour, they are insignificant when held against the seamless and enthralling flow of the story.
A worthy follow-up to a modern classic, Finding Dory is an enchanting tale that never once fells like an unnecessary retread, and while not quite surpassing its predecessor, it at least equals it. And when the pedigree you’re talking about is this high, that’s quite an achievement.
FINDING DORY / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: ANDREW STANTON, ANGUS MACLANE / SCREENPLAY: ANDREW STANTON, VICTORIA STROUSE, BOB PETERSON / STARRING: ELLEN DEGENERES, ALBERT BROOKS, HAYDEN ROLENCE, ED O’NEILL, KAITLIN OLSON, TY BURRELL, DIANE KEATON, EUGENE LEVY / RELEASE DATE: JULY 29TH
Expected Rating: 9 out of 10