Despite Pixar’s creative genius John Lasseter stating the story of Dory was one that needed to be told, I can’t say I shared the same feeling. For me, Finding Nemo is a classic, one of Pixar’s greatest and possibly a 5-star movie. For such a rating to be achieved I needed a sense of closure at the end of the film, and Nemo was wrapped up in a nice little package that had me feeling content with the lives of these characters. At no point leaving the cinema did my 12 year old feel there was unfinished business with Dory, and several repeated viewings years later have also left me uninterested in the blue tang fish with the memory problem. However, there was clearly enough interest in turning on the sequel machine once again and here we have it, thankfully I might add.
My initial skepticism took a while to wash away. As the film started I felt like I was watching Nemo 1.5. The gang was back together and they quickly went gallivanting into the ocean on another mission. Finding Dory runs on the assumption that you know the characters, and with that you understand the dynamic between them and therefore doesn’t need to work on any exposition. Instead the action starts from the off and Dory runs head first into danger like only she could. I was initially worried that the film lacked the scope of the original, and that it seemed a downsized adventure in comparison where the stakes never seemed as high. It was only when the more personal touches of the film and the moralistic fibre began to resonate that I was able to stop with the comparisons and see this film for its own merit.
That merit comes from the lovely lesson of knowing everything will be okay so long as you have friends. Dory’s signature mantra “just keep swimming” is a reminder to keep pushing through adversity even when the odds are against you, and in that you can see the strength of character she possesses that shines much clearer here than it did in Finding Nemo. Directing credits also have to be given in that they managed to hit the perfect balance for how Dory’s memory difficulties got in the way of her progression through the story, because that can become frustrating very fast. That was probably helped by constant flashbacks to young Dory, who could melt the coldest of hearts.
It’s no surprise Finding Dory has been a hit at the box office because it offers something for everyone, just as its predecessor did. There’s a lovely life lesson at the heart of an entertaining and heartfelt story, padded with interesting characters (the seals come to mind) and beautiful animation. It’s not as big a story as Finding Nemo was and therefore doesn’t feel quite as epic, but it’s definitely a worthy addition to the Pixar catalogue and one to be remembered.