By Jeremy Wood
Rating 4 out of 5
The follow up to 2003’s “Finding Nemo” is finally here, and it’s been worth the wait. When we last left our friends of the sea, Nemo had just been reunited with his dad, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), and all was well in the water.
The movie was fun, the story was good and the characters were memorable. Perhaps the one we all remember the most, however, would have likely forgotten about us shortly after we left the theater (see what I did there?). Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) was easily the funniest character of “Finding Nemo,” and perhaps along with being the most memorable – the most lovable as well. So much so – that Disney’s Pixar looked for and found a way to give her a movie all her own, and Dory doesn’t let us down.
Even though 13 long years have passed between these two movies – the events of “Finding Dory” take place one year after “Finding Nemo.” All seems to be back to normal as the kids are all in school with Mr. Ray, learning about the ocean and all of the great things about it. On this particular day of class, we find Mr. Ray taking the kids to see the great Stingray migration and discussing how it’s all about going home – Dory who tags along as an assistant, has a small flash of a memory – but due to her short term memory loss forgets it quickly. As the hundreds of Stingrays swim by, Mr. Ray reminds the kids to stay away from the undertow as the Rays pass by – as it could sweep them away. This triggers another memory with Dory, and before long she is sucked into the undertow. Everyone sets out to find her, with Mr. Ray finding her laying in the sand mumbling about the “Jewel of Moro Bay”. It isn’t long before Dory realizes all of these moments are memories – which she doesn’t have many of – and this leads to her remembering her mom and dad, along with the fact that they could still be out there. It takes some time, but she convinces Marlin and Nemo (mostly Marlin) to come with her to find them. And so the adventure begins.
On the journey we see some familiar faces, such as Crush the Sea Turtle, and meet plenty of new ones like Hank the Octopus (Ed O’Neill) and some hilarious Sea Lions. The story feels familiar at first – and a wee bit of worry starts to creep in that this may be a replay of the first movie – but that all changes when Dory reaches her destination and begins the search for her parents.
The actors in the movie don’t miss a beat as they reprise their old roles, and Ellen DeGeneres’ portrayal of Dory is just as good as the first time around. She is so lovable and funny – that you have to remind yourself that she’s just an animated character, and a fish at that! And wait until you meet the younger version of Dory (voiced by Sloane Murray).
There were so many “awww’s” and “ohhh’s” at her cuteness, it almost was too much…Almost (I found myself doing it too). As I mentioned, Hank the Octopus is a welcome addition, as are the three sea lion characters, along with Destiny the Whale Shark and Bailey the Beluga Whale; and oddly enough – Sigourney Weaver’s voice in the movie (though not a character per say) provides some timely humor.
Like the “Toy Story“ franchise – “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” are strong additions to the Pixar library, and I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we see Dory, Nemo and the gang on the big screen – let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 13 years!
“Finding Dory” is rated PG, and opens everywhere Friday, June 17th.
Jeremy Wood is the President of Cinematic Visions, a Video and Multimedia Production Company in Lee’s Summit. He is the Executive Producer and Co-Host of “Just Down the Road,” a travel TV program seen across the country on several Television Stations. To learn more about Cinematic Visions and Just Down the Road – go online at www.cinematicvisions.com.