For over two centuries now, Pixar Animation Studios has been the leading force in creative animated filmmaking by churning a multitude of captivating storylines and uniquely engaging characters. One of the best films to have come out of this production studio is undoubtedly “Finding Nemo,” a film that rose to critical and commercial acclaim due to its colorful animation and the diverse group of characters and clever puns that have become expected of Pixar over the years.
In the early 2010s though, after the release of “Toy Story 3,” it seemed that Pixar was starting to run out of ideas with the releases of more somewhat unwarranted sequels (Cars 2), prequels (Monster’s University) and less powerful film entries (Brave). In 2015 Pixar made a bounce back with their release of the masterpiece “Inside Out,” which is easily one of their best entries of all time, rivaling the likes of “Toy Story,” “Wall-e,” and “Up.” In 2016, they attempted to continue that form and build on the success of “Finding Nemo” with their latest release: “Finding Dory.”
“Finding Dory” was unfairly brought into the cinematic world at a time when it was set up for disappointment. Not only did it have to contend with being the sequel to “Finding Nemo” but it also had to follow “Inside Out,” so the expectations were higher than for your average Pixar release. I was nervous going into this film because of these high expectations and wasn’t sure how Pixar would handle them. Thankfully, they came through with another solid film.
I am a firm believer that it is nearly impossible to create a sequel that will surpass the original, so sequels need to be taken with that in mind (the only better sequels that initially come to mind are “Aliens,” “Terminator 2,” and “The Dark Knight”). This rule is important to acknowledge when watching this film because it definitely falls short of the bar set by its predecessor, but that shouldn’t take away from the overall quality of this wonderful adventure.
The characters aren’t quite as well written, the adventure isn’t as vast, and the dialogue could be improved in comparison to the original, but it still does better than most animated films in these departments. The story relies more on themes of self-belief, family inclusion, and the importance of home being with those who you love. These themes ring true in the first film, but are on display in a much more obvious and well-constructed manner in this sequel.
The plotline is still strong and engaging, invoking a similar level of emotional resonance as most Pixar films do, and the characters are still funny and unique in their own ways. Also, as always, the animation quality is top notch. Any person who is a fan of Pixar films won’t be disappointed by this entry into their ever-growing list of animated gems.
Is it as good as “Finding Nemo”? No. Is it still a good film worth seeing? Of course. It’s a quaint, pleasant film that’s great for passing the time and will still warm the hearts of many audiences.
Finding Dory (2016): 3/4 stars