Movie Review: Finding Dory

Finding Dory doesn’t offer any breakthrough visual treats and lacks narrative momentum, but manages to repackage a familiar story to deliver a thoughtful fable about disability.

Finding Dory reunites the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish Dory, with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?

Who would’ve thought that an animated film would remind us what sequels are supposed to be?

Finding Dory successfully manages to be both an origins story and a thoughtful fable about disability.

There’s plenty of amusement to be had as the forgetful blue Tang goes on a quest to find her family. Along the way the movie reveals the origins of her quirks, such as her ability to speak whale. At the same time, the script tackles her disability with care. It reflects how disabled people end up being blamed for something out of their control. With Nemo as the voice of reason, Marlin needs to understand – not just acknowledge – Dory’s condition.

Ellen DeGeneres proves once again that she’s the right voice for Dory, effectively flipping between anxiety and eagerness. She’s surrounded by endearing characters thanks to superb voice acting from the supporting cast, which includes a near-sighted whale and a couple of lethargic seals. The most memorable among them is a septopus octopus named Hank, possibly one of the best well-written characters Pixar has created.

All these elements come together to make an entertaining sequel that doesn’t feel like a rehash or a cash grab. In a year where Hollywood experimented with the prequel-sequel hybrid (see: The Huntsman: Winter’s War), it’s refreshing to see an expected follow-up that isn’t pointless.

On the other hand, Finding Dory is standard offering. There are no visual feats or imaginative sights to behold. Finding Nemo explored the depths and dangers of the ocean while Finding Dory is confined in an aquatic park with its generic aquariums and tanks. It doesn’t help that the plot is comprised of frenetic sequences connected by contrivances. Dory doesn’t actually solve anything here, she gets lucky at every turn. Even in an animated film, that ending is far fetched and too convenient.

In fairness, this doesn’t mean that Pixar made less effort. The realistic fish slime and the convincing varying state of waters that our characters end up in, shouldn’t be taken for granted. The wide angle shots of a forgetful Dory is effective in giving a sense of loneliness and longing. Its physical comedy, Alien tie-ins, and visual gags are all gems.

Overall, Finding Dory is still an entertaining and enjoyable sequel. It doesn’t stack-up to its more inventive peers like Inside Out, Wall-E and Up. But it’s still a serviceable follow-up that serves as a palate cleanser from all the crappy sequels we’ve had so far. More importantly, it teaches us that disabled people are more than just their disability.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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