Pixar are the film studio which just keep giving. Since the release of Toy Story over two decades ago, each subsequent film – with the exception of Cars, perhaps – has felt like a gift that’s been well thought out and wrapped up neatly with a lot of love and care. Finding Dory, the studio’s latest effort and sequel to their much beloved Finding Nemo, is a present which has been a long time coming, but one which is well worth the wait.
If anything, the thirteen-year period between films has worked in the sequel’s favour. Now, for those who have fond memories of being taken to see the original by their parents when they were younger, or indeed vice versa, this is a nostalgia-tinged, cinematic treat that acts as a perfect excuse to bring different generations together.
Fortunately, that fondness of the original and its characters should be left well intact by the end of ‘Dory’, which, whilst no Toy Story 3, is one of Pixar’s finest follow-ups; one which has all of the colour, charm and good-natured humour that one has come to expect from the Pixar geniuses , and, of course, is far more touching than any film about fish has the right to be.
Our heartstrings are pulled from the opening moment as we meet the titular fish, Dory – the fan favourite of the first, who takes centre stage this time – when she was a much smaller and much younger fish. When it comes to baby Dory – a tiny, blue figure, whose giant purple eyes almost take over her whole body – the levels of cuteness are so high that you immediately want to cry. And this is even before we find her separated from her parents, growing up whilst wandering the vast gloom of the ocean by herself, until she one day meets a clownfish looking for his son.
Once we’ve caught up to the events of Finding Nemo, ‘Dory’ wastes no time in beginning its own adventure. As the usually forgetful fish begins to have flashbacks about her parents, Dory, Marlin and Nemo – with the help from some familiar faces – head to California, where Dory believes her parents may be. There, they come across a Marine Life Institute for sick animals where they are aided by all manner of sea life – a grouchy septopus (a octupus with seven legs) named Hank steals the show – in trying to find Dory’s parents.
The script from Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse manages to sidestep any kind of SeaWorld-type controversy – not necessarily a good thing – just as well as it manages to avoid being a complete retread of the original story. Whilst the initial concept does bear some resemblance to ‘Nemo’ in the sense that it is about finding a missing fish, the two are very different thematically. Whilst the first was about a father finding his son to bring him home, this is about a daughter finiding her home.
In typical Pixar-fashion, the storytelling here goes much further than you would think. When you dive deep enough, you’ll find that this is a story about disabillity and learning to live with whatever that disabillty might be. One of the studio’s most fantastic creations, Dory may suffer from severe short-term memory loss, but her unrelenting postitive attitude – “Just keep swimming” – kindness and quick-thinking are in such abundance that everything else doesn’t really matter. And that’s a lovely message for people of all ages.
Visually, Pixar’s vision of the ocean is a thing of beauty, and, since technology has only improved over the last thirteen-years, Finding Dory is even more vibrant and delightful to look at than Finding Nemo. And that is truly saying something. It is the wonderul visuals, sharp-witted writing, excellent vocal performances and incredibly moving story that puts this in the upper echelons of Pixar’s almost-flawless catalouge.
Make sure you get there early for the bundle of cuteness that is the delightful short, Piper, and stay right until the end for a post-credit sequence featuring some reutrning characters.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com