Pixar dives back into the ocean with the charming sequel “Finding Dory”

finding dory aquarium
Even though some folks bemoan when Pixar goes the sequel route, they still turn up in droves, and that will certainly be the case for this sequel to Finding Nemo, one of the studio’s most beloved titles. This one, Finding Dory, opens this week and is a pretty cute new adventure for the heroes from the first one. It’s basically a slam dunk for the studio, so this is going to be a huge success no matter the quality, but it helps that this is an easy to recommend cartoon. Something tells me that Disney will again be able to print money from this Pixar outing.

The film is, once again, a sequel to Finding Nemo, continuing a trend with Pixar of making follow ups to some of their most popular properties. Here, we’re following Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the forgetful Blue Tang who now is searching for her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy), as she’s remembered her childhood. Along for the ride is Marlon (Albert Brooks), who obviously owes her from last time, and Nemo as well. This search will take them to a Marine Life Institute where Dory thinks her parents are. There she’ll meet a ton of friends, old and new, including octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill). Andrew Stanton is once again at the helm here, co-directing with Angus MacLane and co-writing with the duo of Bob Peterson and Victoria Strouse. The voice cast, in addition to those mentioned, includes Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Dominic West, and a cameo of sorts by Sigourney Weaver. Music is by Thomas Newman.

Though this isn’t as good as the first one (probably an impossible bar to clear), there’s definitely plenty of fun to be had here. Personally, I really loved Hank, which is a combination of O’Neill doing strong voice work and the animators at Pixar really outdoing themselves with the creation of the octopus. Watching him is delightful, as is the whole thing really, once the first act is through. It takes a while for things to get going here, but as the second half begins, the movie is firing on all cylinders. It’s not top tier Pixar, but it’s still an easy to recommend family film.

Awards wise, this is probably going to be a very targeted campaign on the part of Pixar and Disney. Sure, with money to burn they’ll throw out a few ads for Best Picture, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay (for Peterson, Stanton, and Strouse), but the real plays here will be in Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score (for Newman). Obviously, it could easily be Animated Feature or bust here, and I do think that’s how it will wind up. It looks safe for a nomination, but a win may not be in the cards, though I caution that it’s very early on still.

Overall, Friday brings a new Pixar release, and isn’t that something we can all get behind? Finding Dory can’t quite capture the absolute brilliance of Finding Nemo, but it does stand out as one of the studio’s better sequels, as good as any non Toy Story one at least. If Dory, Marlon, Nemo, and company are fond friends for you, I suspect you’ll be glad to go swimming with them once again. The magic isn’t quite the same, but in all likelihood you’ll more than get your money’s worth. Give it a shot and see where it stacks up among Pixar’s filmography for you. For me, it’s about middle of the road, which is still a pretty high mark…

Be sure to check out Finding Dory, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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