Thirteen years later, all the nagging of Ellen DeGeneres seems to have paid off with the long awaited sequel to Finding Nemo, and this time our forgetful friend Dory takes center stage. Finding Dory opens with one of the saddest sequences in Pixar history. I imagine that’s why there’s such an uplifting short to start this latest Pixar installment; you need to come from an emotional high point to make it through the first scenes of Finding Dory. Cue Nemo! Coming to the rescue is our feel-good friendship of Nemo and Marlin to help Dory find her long lost family. If this feels a bit familiar; it is. Much of Finding Dory uses similar story arcs as the original—but like Star Wars The Force Awakens, a familiar story can still be a hit if it has a good cast of characters. That’s where Finding Dory really delivers; from the comedic trio of the seals, to the octopus who befriends Dory, the characters make this sequel far better than the admittedly unoriginal story.
In addition to great characters, we have the always impressive Pixar animation which continues to show how Pixar can take us to new worlds make them come alive and seem so real (watching Hank the octopus turn on and off camouflage as he works with Dory to find her parents is nothing short of amazing). So the movie looks amazing and adds great new characters to the world of Nemo, but the story leaves us with a strong feeling of déjà vu. We do get a good backstory for Dory and of course lots of wonderful life lessons on friendship, dedication, and what it means to be a family. Watching it with my youngest daughter, I really appreciated many of the values esteemed by Dory and her all-star cast.
Perhaps one scene that fell short in this regard is when Nemo and Marlin face a scary monster and immediately fall prey to emotions that lead them to worship and serve the scary beast. It struck me as very odd to see Marlin worshipping the beast in order to appease its anger. The thought of worshipping such a hideous creature rang foul to me as worship is such a central part of our relationship to God. Foul beasts aside, this movie left both my daughter and I smiling and slapping high fives by the end of the movie. Sometimes it really is just the characters that can make a film such a joy to experience!
5 out of 7 – Dory is a family friendly movie with plenty of good life lessons and perhaps a few discussion points worth bringing up with the kids. If your kids liked the first one, Dory will leave them thrilled to see their favorite characters return and a host of new characters light up the screen.