Per usual, Pixar knows how to pull an audiences heartstrings. In “Finding Dory,” though, that’s not fully enough.
The latest film from the animation studio picks up a year after the first film left off. Marlin (Albert Brooks), Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) all live along the familiar coral reef and despite Dory’s occasional issues with her memory, life seems to be happy.
Adventure starts to set in with the returning protagonists, though, when Dory suddenly remembers her parents and decides she has to find them. Joined by Marlin and Nemo, Dory travels to a rescue and release park for fish where she believes she can find her family.
For the most part, there’s a lot of fun to be had in “Finding Dory,” and it has some solid emotional weight, too. Some of the scenes with Dory’s flashbacks to her parents are legitimately heart-wrenching and there are other moments that contain plenty of humor to make things enjoyable.
However, this sequel doesn’t quite hold up to the original movie. The biggest issue is that it plays things a little too safe. The stakes seem to be lower, there’s not as much of a sense of adventure and it lacked the original movie’s suspense of not knowing what will happen next.
Similar to the original, the movie also contains two subplots, one following Dory’s quest and the other about Marlin and Nemo. This added another problem to the picture, since much of the plot related to Marlin and Nemo came off as tacked on, especially since it deals with drama that seemed to be taken care of in the first movie.
With all that said, the movie does at least stay true to the original characters and it’s great to revisit them again while also being introduced to some nice new ones. For example, Kaitlin Olson plays a whale named Destiny and her friendship with Dory provides some good laughs.
There’s also Hank (Ed O’Neill), a grumpy octopus with a heart of gold who turned out to be one of the more interesting characters in the film. The only issue is there wasn’t enough of his backstory. He says he’s afraid of the open ocean, yet there’s never a flashback to detail why that is.
Regarding the animation, it should come to no surprise that what was featured here was gorgeous. Pixar has always been on point with its animation, and “Finding Dory” was a great opportunity to test out what they can do, given that it takes place in the ocean with multiple colors and locations.
The film as a whole does its job well enough. It can entertain, be emotional, provide some laughs and take audiences on a journey with some fun characters. “Finding Dory” doesn’t quite hit the notes that its predecessor did, though, so it gets a high 3 out of 5.