As needless sequels go, Finding Dory is probably better than it has any reason to be. Let’s face it, the movie-going public wasn’t exactly howling in the night for a sequel to Finding Nemo but the result isn’t exactly a dead fish either. Actually Finding Dory is a fun little adventure with a well-toned dramatic arc at its center. Dory, the daffy fish from Nemo (voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres), moves from supporting role to center stage and in doing so gets a shift in tone. In the previous film her short-term memory loss was a cute running gag, but here it is given a great deal of dramatic weight, and this effectively raises the film slightly beyond our expectations.
The outward story involves Dory’s search for her long-lost parents leading to a hilarious adventure inside The Morro Bay Marine Life Institute and Rescue Facility, lorded over by the omniscient voice of Sigourney Weaver. The inner theme, meanwhile, deals with how Dory is able to overcome her disability. So, it’s a cute adventure with a nice ‘overcoming adversity’ message in the center. That’s good news at a moment when most other animated adventures are little more than cackling toy commercials.
It is almost guaranteed that you’re kids will love Finding Dory. It’s colorful, funny, sweet and good-hearted, but will it last in the way of other Pixar confections like Toy Story and Inside Out? Let’s just say that in the long run it will mostly be sought out as a curiosity by those who adored Finding Nemo, but it won’t change their lives. Yet, those willing to look under the film’s themes will find it deeper than they might expect. Dory’s plight will speak to kids, especially those struggling to overcome a disability, to work through the pressure and the difficulty and, like Dory, to keep on swimming even when they feel the tides turned against them.