With the exception of “Toy Story,” neither Disney or its affiliate Pixar have a very good track record for creating sequels. However, “Finding Dory,” the sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” out this Friday, breaks that streak.
The film opens with a trademark Pixar heartbreaking montage of forgetful fish Dory’s (Ellen Degeneres) life, from childhood to the moment in the first movie that she meets Marlin. The audience learns how Dory’s short-term memory loss caused her to lose track of of her family when she was very young, but she soon forgot that she even had a family in the first place. Now, after getting caught in an undertow while playing with Nemo and his class at school, she has a flashback to her parents and decides she needs to go and find them. This new adventure leads her to the Monterey Marine Life Institute in California, an aquarium where fish are rehabilitated and released back into the ocean.
“Finding Dory” comes with a host of new characters, including grumpy octopus Hank, nearsighted whale shark Destiny, and beluga whale Bailey. Favorite characters from the first movie make brief appearances as well, including Crush and Squirt the sea turtles and Mr. Ray the manta ray teacher. Nemo and his father, Marlin, take more of a backseat in the sequel; although they play a pivotal role in the plot, the movie centers around Dory’s backstory and challenges.
The plot of the film is heartwarming and tear-jerking, touching on themes of family, love, and friendship as well as trust and growth. Like the first movie, it is filled with jokes, often revolving around the marine creatures’ misunderstandings of the goings-on of human life (and a surprise cameo by Sigourney Weaver). One shortcoming, however, is that it does contain many parallels to the original, which are good to create a feeling of unity between the two films, but does feel a little repetitive at times. Having much of the story take place within the aquarium instead of the ocean helps to relieve this issue.
It would be difficult and nearly impossible to beat “Finding Nemo.” However, the sequel is certainly an acceptable follow-up that will please both kids and adults the loved the original.