Finding Dory

2003’s Finding Nemo was Pixar’s fifth release and, in my opinion, their first perfect film. They’ve repeated this feat a couple of times since, but Finding Nemo was their first with no flaws: every joke found its mark, every emotional beat was hit, every character was unique and compelling, and the pacing was perfect. So its sequel, Finding Dory, has some big shoes to fill.

A year after finding Nemo the ever-forgetful Dory is living alongside Nemo and his father, Marlin, when she suddenly remembers that before meeting them she was searching for her parents. And so the trio head off on another transpacific adventure to the Marine Life Institute in California where Dory was born, in the hope of reuniting her with her family.

The plot is typical Pixar fare, with an eclectic cast of characters in a fish-out-of-water scenario (literally, on occasion) trying to rescue one another from mild peril. However, the simple plot allows the focus to instead be on the characters and the situations they find themselves in. The Marine Life Institute proves to be an excellent location for the action, with touching pools and jumping fountains providing the setting for action moments, and a host of new colorful marine life for our heroes to meet.

Finding Nemo had a message of triumph despite physical disability, and the sequel, set mostly in a hospital for marine animals, dials this theme up to eleven. From a short-sighted whale shark, to a beluga whale with faulty echo location and a seven-legged octopus, the film finds humor in these conditions, but it’s all in jest (and never mean) and allows the characters to succeed over their adversities.

These new characters are all fantastic. Hank the octopus steals every scene he’s in, as do sea lions Fluke and Rudder. Every creature is so full of personality and warmth that you can’t help but be drawn into their adventures. This is definitely Dory’s movie though, and most of the big moments and jokes are hers. Marlin and Nemo play a lesser role compared to the original adventure, and are present mostly to provide an emotional anchor for Dory’s current life as she searches for her previous one.

The art and animation is, as you’d expect from Pixar, incredible. Octopus Hank is the star here, moving with rubbery, tentacled grace and frequently demonstrating his camouflage abilities. And baby Dory is probably the most adorable little fish you’ll ever see!

This is another sure hit for Pixar. While the emotional moments are not quite as strong as its predecessor, it makes up for it in laughs: this is easily one of the funniest films Pixar have ever released. I’m not sure I’d give it the same 'perfect' rating as Finding Nemo, but I give it my highest recommendation. The cinema I saw it in had a very diverse audience ranging from the very young, through to teenagers and older adults, and everyone seemed to have a whale of a time (sorry!).

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