Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton) as a child. With help from her friends Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks), Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save mom and dad from captivity.
From the way Finding Nemo ended, a sequel probably wasn’t necessary, but here we are nonetheless. Since Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory is one of the most memorable animated characters in this millennium (in my opinion), it would make sense to continue her story in any way possible. The fact that DeGeneres pleaded for a sequel for so long after the release of Finding Nemo also helped get this film gain momentum.
From what we all saw in Finding Nemo, Dory was a kooky, comic relief character, but we didn’t know much about her. In this sequel, we get to learn more about Dory’s character and her backstory. We catch a glimpse of a younger Dory (Sloane Murray), which is one of the cutest things on screen. We also got to meet her parents, Charlie (Levy) and Jenny (Keaton). It was evident how much they cared for Dory and Dory for them. After a freak accident, Dory finds herself separated from her parents and thus begins her quest to find them. Since she suffers from short-term memory loss, she forgets more and more about them over time until she has forgotten them altogether.
The film takes place one year after the events of Finding Nemo where we find Dory, Marlin, and Nemo (Rolence) living together. The three live a pretty normal life with Dory often joining Mr. Ray’s (Bob Peterson) expeditions and frequently wandering off. One day, memories of her family and parents are triggered causing her to start missing her parents and wanting to find them. Because of Dory’s memory problem, Marlin and Nemo decide to tag along. Dory’s memories are triggered the further they go guiding them to her parents.
Things quickly change when Dory is led by Sigourney Weaver (it makes sense) to a marine institute where she then meets a grumpy octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neil). With Hank scheduled to be released into the sea, he sees Dory as a means to be put somewhere in a tank of his own. He decides to help her find her parents in exchange to go to an aquarium. Hank starts off helping her begrudgingly, but they form a strong bond over time. Along the way, they run into a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell). They all work together in order to help Dory find her parents who may or may not be in the institute.
While Dory is finding her way through the institute, Marlin and Nemo find a way to get to Dory. This introducing us to new characters along the way–most notably a pair of sea lions named Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West).
While a lot of the story was entertaining and had comedic moments, as most animated films do, there was a surprising amount of emotion as well. Ever since Finding Nemo, Dory was already a great character, but her internal, personal struggle here was very compelling to watch. Seeing her desperately wanting to find her parents, while trying to overcome her memory problems, was compelling to watch because of both the great script and DeGeneres’ great, nuanced vocal performance as Dory. She was able to make you laugh and make you cry, which isn’t easy in animated film and is more of a testament to her performance than anything else. While DeGeneres was great in Finding Nemo, she took this sequel to an even higher level. It was just as good if not better than the Oscar-nominated Finding Nemo (I wouldn’t be surprised if this receives an Oscar nom too).
This film may not have been necessary, but I’m glad it was made. Finding Nemo is a classic, but this one takes it to the next level creating an even greater emotional connection for adults and kids alike.
For more, visit keithlovesmovies.com
If you would like to read my review of Finding Nemo, click here.