As soon as you hear the voices of Ellen DeGeneres (as Dory) and Albert Brooks (as Nemo’s neurotic dad, Marlin), you realize how much you’ve missed these two. It’s been 13 long years since the original was in theatres but only a single year has elapsed in the ocean where they make their home.
Writer\co-director Andrew Stanton had no desire to revisit Nemo’s world until he rewatched it in 3D and realized how many unanswered questions peppered Dory’s storyline. So good news, folks: those burning questions that have been keeping you awake the last dozen years finally get their time in sea – Why does Dory speak whale? How did she learn to read? And does her disability make for a lonely life?
Dory convinces Nemo and Marlin to embark on yet another oceanwide journey, this time to find her absent family. Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton voice her parents in various flashbacks (Dory was a SUPER cute young guppie!), but with a spotty memory and so much time gone by, is it even possible to find them? How to put this delicately…just what is the life expectancy of even a vegetarian, non-smoking, yoga-adhering blue tang?
The magic of Finding Nemo is safely recaptured in Finding Dory; the story makes room for both old friends and new. Hank, the cranky octopus (or technically a septapus, if you bother to count) is a definite break-out star, voiced by Ed O’Neill. He helps Dory navigate the exhibits of an aquarium where she believes her parents live. Ty Burrell, who plays Ed’s son-in-law on Modern Family, voices a beluga whale with dubious echolocation abilities but a willingness to play “guide whale” for his visually impaired friend. In fact, the nice thing about this new world presented in Finding Dory is that the marine rescue centre in question rehabs sick fish – everyone’s got some sort of disability but they’ve got plenty of ability too, even Dory. Or especially Dory. My favourite new character is a bird named Becky, who, okay, maybe has some mental health issues, maybe is a little intellectually challenged, maybe isn’t as finely feathered as some, but MY GOD. The minute she was introduced I had a mini meltdown, wracked with laughter.
Finding Dory can’t surprise you in quite the same way the first one did, but it makes up for it in laughs and heart. Last week on our podcast, Matt hoped that the sequel would make him cry as the first one did. The verdict’s not in on his tear ducts, but mine were a leaky mess.
A memory-challenged fish sets out to find her blue family and along the way remembers that she already has an orange one. I’ve seen a lot of sequels lately that stink like 13 year old fish, but Finding Dory is a sweet and satisfying cuddle party with old friends, serving up something fresh that everyone will enjoy.