“Finding Dory” Redeems Pixar…And Then Breaks Your Heart

By Scott Kurland
Film: Finding Dory
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neil, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Sigourney Weaver, and Eugene Levy
Rated PG
Director: Andrew Stanton

If I were asked to describe what it's like to watch a Pixar film, I’d have to respond with this: “It's two hours of sentimental heart, beautiful animation, and a wonderful script". Granted, these films can be heart wrenching. Sometimes it's like two hours of watching Bambi’s mom die over and over again. That may be harsh, but it’s true. Pixar not only hits you in the feels, it takes a baseball bat and finishes you off. This week’s film “Finding Dory” is a long awaited sequel to the 2003 classic “Finding Nemo.” Many are asking how the film compares to it's predecessor. Well, let’s find out shall we?

“Finding Dory” picks up one year after the events of “Finding Nemo”. Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is still suffering from short term memory lost. However, snippets of her past,  her mother Jenny (Diane Keaton) and her father Charlie (Eugene Levy), begin bubbling up to the surface of her brain. Now Dory, Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) must travel to California to look for her family at a Marine Institute. Along the way, Dory comes across some new friends like a Whale Shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a Beluga Whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and a disgruntled octopus name Hank (Ed O’Neil). Will these three help Dory find her parents or will Dory’s memory go fuzzy again?

“Finding Dory” is Pixar’s most emotional film, which is an odd thing to say because they made a film all about emotions. After seeing “Finding Dory,” I kept saying it was like 90 minutes of watching Bing Bong's final scene from “Inside Out”. The underlying theme of “Finding Dory” is family and understanding what that word means. I’ve always been a sucker for films about families. However, the focus of this film is not that family is important and that they are supposed to stay together. Instead, it’s about trying to wrap your head around what the word "family" means to different people. Aside from the theme of family, there’s a ton of humor in “Finding Dory”. There’s an ongoing joke about Sigourney Weaver in this film, because she’s the voice that plays on the loudspeaker at the Marine Institute. This might be because Pixar always makes Weaver the voice of a ship or an institute and never a character. I love little details like that.

Ellen DeGeneres is the heart of this film. Last time in “Finding Nemo,” she was the comic relief. Now, she’s what guides this film. There’s so much love and life in DeGeneres’ voice and you can tell that Dory is truly a part of her. When Dory is trying to comprehend an idea or past memory, it feels like DeGeneres is struggling with it as well. Everyone thought I was crazy when I said Ellen deserved an Oscar nomination for her role in “Finding Nemo”. I stand by that statement, and I am willing to double down for “Finding Dory”. DeGeneres  deserves recognition for her work on this film as it was her campaigning that got the film made in the first place.

“Finding Dory” is filled with great performances from Albert Brooks, Kaitlin Olsen, and Ty Burrell. Yet, the performances I loved the most were Keaton and Levy as Dory’s parents. This film shows the love  parents have for their children, no matter what their abilities are; something that can be said about the first film as well. Nemo had a disability as does Dory. Both Marlin and Dory’s parents love their children and show them the care they need and deserve. This is what makes Pixar so ahead of the curve, and casting Keaton and Levy is that extra special touch. Levy and Keaton are the perfect mixture of DeGenres to make these characters work. Keaton has that easy going  personality, and Levy is filled with nothing but affection for his family. It’s perfect casting.

“Finding Dory” is one of the best Sequels I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s also one of Pixar’s best films. Andrew Stanton has once again directed a tremendous film. The animation is breathtaking and the attention to detail is flawless. DeGenres leads a stellar cast and the addition of new characters never seems forced. Do yourself a favor and take the family or friends to see “Finding Dory”, but bring the tissues because you’ll cry more in the first five minutes than you did last time. Wonderful film all around.

scott kurland1 Comment