We’ve waited thirteen years to find out what happened to Marlin, Nemo, and Dory after their big adventure. Did they live quietly ever after in their underwater paradise? Not according to Disney Pixar’s latest plunge into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. “Finding Dory” takes the beloved trio on a fresh journey, brimming with peril, familiar supporting characters, and wacky new faces.
Ellen DeGeneres shines as she takes center stage. She hits the right balance of emotion and perfect comic timing as Dory feels the pull of memory and family. Themes of loss, confusion, and grief are treated gently, with honesty and love. What is a family? How do we find our way home when we aren’t sure where to begin? Because this is a family film, “Finding Dory” winds its way through the tough moments with abundant comic relief. New characters, like Hank the Septopus (Ed O’Neill), Destiny the Whale Shark (Kaitlin Olson), and Bailey the Pilot Whale (Ty Burrell), provide some of the more jokey, even bizarre moments. Marlin (Albert Brooks) maintains his steady but occasionally unhinged voice-of-reason characterization, providing an adult’s maturity to reel in the silliness.
A few scenes feel a bit over-the-top, even for an animated movie. The beauty of summer animated movie fare is that you go with the flow and don’t question if an octopus can drive. Of course he can. “Finding Dory” is fantastic in 3D, too. It’s not entirely necessary to appreciate the beauty and detail of the animation, but it’s spectacularly done. Let’s say an octopus drives. Imagine what that would be like in 3D and you begin to see the appeal.
“Finding Dory” is the perfect follow-up to “Finding Nemo.” It captures the same heart as the first, but with more slapstick humor that would have been off-putting when we met Marlin, Dory, and Nemo in 2003. It works because it’s Dory’s time to shine. Her “just keep swimming” sensibility gets a backstory. She is a survivor, an unsung genius, and ultimately a leader.
“Finding Dory” opens on Friday, June 17, 2016. It’s rated PG for cartoon violence and scenes of peril. If your child can handle “Finding Nemo” she can see “Finding Dory.” There is a scary scene with a hungry squid and general suspense, but a very happy ending.
The big question is are they going to live quietly ever after? Not a chance with this bunch!
(Be sure to stay through the credits!)