Review: “Finding Dory” tells original story without an overdose on nostalgia

Courtesy Disney-Pixar
dory-2
Courtesy Disney-Pixar

By James Hartley

Just keep swimming and don’t give up on Dory, even if she does have a tendency to forget important things throughout her “Finding Nemo” sequel, “Finding Dory.”

Shortly after returning home from their adventure to save clownfish Marlon’s (Albert Brooks) son, Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory has a dream that reminds her of her parents. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), who suffers from what she calls “short term memory loss,” immediately sets off on her own mission to find not only her parents, but herself.

Nemo’s new voice, brought by Rolence, is indistinguishable from that delivered by Alexander Gould in “Finding Nemo.” Just as in the predecessor, DeGeneres doesn’t sound like the talk show host, but creates a totally original character with her voice acting. New characters Hank (Ed O’Neill), Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and Bailey (Ty Burrell), along with the occasional ominous voice of Sigourney Weaver push Dory along in her journey and make for likable characters that populate the story.

The pace of the film shadows Dory’s character: fast, always changing and colorful. While this makes for a more fun atmosphere to the film, it robs it of the dramatic, emotional moments that carried the original. That doesn’t hurt Dory’s story, however.

Nearly all of “Finding Nemo” reflected the mind of Marlon with muted colors, a slow, suspenseful pace and constant worry. “Dory” reflects its namesake in a totally opposite way. Bright colors, unending optimism and the fast pace populate the world and will most certainly hold children’s attention more effectively, while not losing the focus of parents.

Dory’s plot doesn’t disappoint, despite the fact that the ending is obvious before the film starts, with colorful characters and quick changes to the story. Instead of focusing on the challenge of finding her parents, the film uses this to propel Dory’s personal journey to find who she really is. Viewers learn more about the movie’s namesake through flashbacks and Dory’s returning memory. The only real disappointment of the film is the lack of tearjerker moments. The lack of buildup to the emotional climax of the film failed to elicit tears when the big reunion comes.

The sequel nearly every millennial has been waiting for will not disappoint. “Finding Dory” doesn’t try to be “Finding Nemo,” and that’s great. It shouldn’t try to be its predecessor and spares its audience the nostalgia-baiting that recent reboots and sequels like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Jurassic World” have used. It tells an original story that compliments the first and doesn’t bore.

“Finding Dory” is the first of this year’s summer must-see flicks, and it doesn’t disappoint.

4-stars

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