In my defence, it's only natural to feel wary of sequels to films that have helped form your childhood. For this reason I waited a little before seeing Finding Dory; spending this time reading reviews and psyching myself up for the worst (for example, Lion King 1 ½). There is nothing more disheartening than the awareness that you have been deceived into going to the cinema. Alas, there was no need for my trepidation; Finding Dory is a lovely and emotionally complex film. At times, far too emotional for my liking. Anything centred around cute baby fish and lost parents is going to melt even the coldest of hearts on this exceptionally rainy August. Finding Dory truly is a recipe for waterworks, with the opening scene being pure Pixar magic.
Fast forward a whopping thirteen years since Finding Nemo's release (that in itself is enough to make me want to cry), Finding Dory tells the story of our favourite blue tang fish (also known as paracanthurus hepatus, but that's way harder to pronounce) as she goes in search of her parents who she lost when she was a little girl. Voiced by the hilarious Ellen DeGeneres, the film takes place one year after Dory reunited Nemo with his parents.
With a tagline of 'Just Keep Swimming', Finding Dory has a poignant theme of endurance and identity. As you should remember from the first film, Dory suffers from short term memory loss (she forgets everything every ten seconds or so). However, it is her disability that ends up being her strength throughout the film. At several points the question 'What Would Dory Do?' is posed. Co-directed by Andrew Stanton (Toy Story 2, WALL-E) and with a beautiful score by the legendary Thomas Newman; you know you're in for a treat. Might I add, this whirlpool of talent has made Finding Dory the most successful animated movie of all time at the U.S Box Office.
As if that wasn't enough of a reason to see the film, there's a whole new collection of marine friends to meet. Dory's parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy) are delightful. There's a Beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), who is slightly neurotic and clearly suffers from inferiority issues. There's Hank the octopus (Ed O'Neill) whose opening scene took an entire six months to construct. He's a character who is both refreshing and unpredictable and entirely steals the show. Not to forget a ditsy, short-sighted whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and the hilariously dim sea lions, Rudder and Fluke (Idris Elba, Dominic West) who had me laughing out loud; something that rarely happens.
In a nutshell (or seashell, perhaps?) Finding Dory is on the surface, extremely similar to its prequel; both films centre around the theme of child-parent bonds and abandonment, and it's not difficult to predict the plot - but aside from the overwhelming sense of fishy déjà vu, I'm not complaining, this film has a different feel; it's more grown up; it's real and fast-paced and you'll forgive it for any similarities. There's also an unexpected and hysterical vocal addiction courtesy of Sigourney Weaver, but I won't dare to spoil.
With beautiful visuals, a stunning score and a wonderful new set of characters; you'd be missing out if you don't see this film. Make sure you catch it before it sweeps our shores. (I apologise; it was very difficult to not litter this post with aquatic puns).