Finding Nemo is a classic and one of Pixar’s best, if not greatest film. It’s very rare that a movie comes along that is so absolutely perfect that there is nothing that could be changed, added or taken away from it to improve the final product. Considering that it’s been 13 years since Nemo’s release as well as keeping in mind the pedigree Pixar has built since (Wall-E, Toy Story 3, Inside Out, etc.), expectations for Dory have been set pretty damn high. So it’s truly wonderful that while it doesn’t surpass the original, it lives up to it in very nearly every way.
Finding Dory is more about the fact that our heroine Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is trying to find herself and her family rather than being captured or lost. Dory is happily living with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (newcomer Hayden Rolence) but through a series of curious events, begins to regain some of her lost memories that we, and she, experience through flashbacks of when she was a child. Realizing that she has forgotten she even had a family, she immediately races off with Marlin and Nemo in tow to search out the Marine Life Institute in California which was where she originally grew up. Once there, she is separated from Marlin but soon meets a Cleveland-bound seven-armed octopus, a Septopus if you will, named Hank (trust me here, this all makes sense in context) voiced by the incredibly funny Ed O’Neil who helps her reunite with old childhood friends as she seeks out the last place she remembers being with her family. Of course, her forgetfulness constantly comes into play, and wackiness ensues as she gets closer and closer to her goal.
Just as in Finding Nemo, the story of Dory is incredibly simple, but as in the case with all good ones, it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Everything we loved about Nemo is present and accounted for and then some, so anyone who was a fan of the original will be completely at home here.
Pixar again shows that they are the masters of their element as the animation is some of the best ever seen. Certainly no one will be confused that the anthropomorphic fish with big googly eyes are actual real, but the way they swim and how the rest of the environments are is absolutely gorgeous and the best work they’ve ever done. Pixar continues to push the boundaries of what is real and computer generated, and it’s incredibly exciting to see how they manage to one-up themselves with each new feature.
Eye candy aside, the characters and how they play off each other is the most important part of any story, and everything works here perfectly. Ellen DeGeneres is absolutely wonderful as Dory and easily slips back into the role with a determined sense of naivety that is rarely found with any other actress. Considering this is her movie, Pixar wisely lets her take center stage while still giving Marlin and Nemo enough fun stuff to do but not make them the crux of the action. But best of all are all loony fish and animals they come across to help them along the way.
I cannot stress just how funny Ed O’Neil is as Hank the Septopus as he nearly walks away with the movie by stealing every scene he’s in. Imagine a friendlier, yet still exasperated version of his character Jay from Modern Family, and you’ll have a close idea. Another one of his costars from that show, Ty Burrell, gets to have a ton of fun acting out whale noises as Bailey the beluga whale as does Kaitlin Olson who plays Dory’s old friend, Destiny. British sea lions have a consistently funny gag, and there’s also the best running joke featuring Sigourney Weaver that no one would ever expect.
The only point of contention one may have with this movie is the much-discussed and argued-about scene from the trailer that possibly shows a lesbian couple, as seen here.
The time they are in the film is so brief, that I didn’t even realize I had seen them until I hopped online at home and looked it up. So are they a same-sex couple? There really isn't enough evidence to support that theory. What worries me more is that we, as a society, have jumped on this bandwagon of bashing each other over the sexuality of two women based on what? That one of them has short hair? Right wingers are pissed that there could be lesbians in a kids’ film (which is so asinine, I’m not even going to address the issue), but then people on the far left are angry that Pixar didn’t verify that there are lesbians in the film. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here wondering why people on all sides are so sexist that they believe the only women who could possibly have short hair must be lesbians because... stereotypes. That and the fact that no one will probably even notice them because they’re essentially extras in the movie for mere moments.
Look, we need more representation in our entertainment. LGBT people make up a decent percentage of society, so to ignore us and not give us some of the same role models and heroes in film that the straight world has is a detriment to us and all of society. But arguing vehemently online over a woman with short hair is inane and wrong on all counts.
All that aside, Finding Dory is essentially a kids’ movie, but it’s one that’s done right. Not only is it one of the most beautifully animated films to have come out since, well, Pixar's outings last year, it’s also smart, has enough humor so people of all ages will have fun and makes some strong points about self confidence and family. It’s nearly perfect and comes with about the highest recommendation I can give it. Just don’t focus on the “controversy” and make sure to stay through the credits!
Quality: 4 and a half out of 5 stars. Finding Dory is a worthy successor to the original and a nearly perfect film. Gorgeous animation combines with incredibly script and zany characters to make sure that everyone of all ages will have a fantastic time with this film.
Queerness: 0 out of 6 Kinseys. Sexuality is not addressed in this film except for what people are trying to read between the lines to see. Not everything has to have extra subtext, but those who go looking are bound to find some, for good or bad.