FINDING DORY: REVIEW | fivethreeninety

OKAY. HERE WE GO. BEST FILM OF THE YEAR. STRAP YOURSELVES IN BECAUSE WE’RE ABOUT TO GO ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER.

(don’t worry this is pretty much spoiler free!)

Thirteen years ago, whilst staying with some family in Cardiff, a group of five of us went to go see the new Disney Pixar film Finding Nemo in cinemas. I can’t remember much of the experience except for three things; 1. I loved it; 2. Seeing the cinema screen listing & 3. being embarrassed by how hard my mum was laughing at Dory’s ‘whale speak’. So, thirteen years on, that same group of people met up to go see Finding Dory.


And it was astounding.

I doubt I have to explain why the original Finding Nemo is so brilliant. Everyone loves it, & if you’re in the minority that doesn’t, it’s probably because you haven’t seen it. And of course, almost everyone’s favourite character from that film was Dory, a Royal Blue Tang voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. She was a loveable character; playful, optimistic & wise but suffered from short term memory loss, & pretty much instantly became an iconic character from Disney.


Rumours for a sequel to Finding Nemo first started circulating in July 2012, & to be honest, I was a little unimpressed. I just thought that the original was so perfect, I was worried that anything else would tarnish it. But then I remembered how much I loved Dory & how much I loved Ellen & then the first trailer was released & I WAS EXCITED. And it was so hard waiting for it! Although it premiered in the US mid-June, we had to wait till July 29th to go see it. Why does America hate us.


I want to just quickly talk about the Pixar short before the film, Piper, directed by Alan Barillaro. It’s about a little baby sandpiper who has to learn to feed himself & it is adorable. It was so so simple yet so heartwarming & I did well up a good few times in it’s six short minutes. It immediately got every single person in the cinema involved (& even had kids shouting out their support to the character), which was brilliant because then everyone was ready & invested for the feature length film.

Honestly I would have been happy paying for the cinema ticket just to see this short, & I didn’t even know how anything was going to follow it. But then the Disney castle came up on the screen (which always makes me cry too) & Finding Dory started & Piper was pushed to the back of my mind.

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It was definitely worth the thirteen year wait for this sequel. The story, screenplay & direction came from Andrew Stanton, who did the same for the original film & is just as perfect (if not better). It’s such a brilliant story, really, really emotive & has you laughing one second & crying the next, & leaves your heart racing the entire duration of the film. The plot is pretty simple; Dory remembers her parents, & tries to find them. Some parts were downright stressful but I loved it.

It’s a relatively averaged length film at ninety seven minutes, but it doesn’t feel rushed. I would say however, that the first twenty minutes or so does feel a little fast paced, but it’s just to allow the film to progress onto the main plot – as well as avoiding making the whole story about travelling across the ocean which is pretty much what the first film is all about. It did lead me to do a lost of research on how far they travel in each film though – in the first film Marlin travels the equivalent of 1275 miles to find Nemo. In the sequel it’s closer to 7117 miles which is crazy but not focused on. What persistent fish.

Dory’s character was lovable before, but after this film she’s admirable & downright inspirational. One of the things to come out of the sequel was the line “What would Dory do?”, & the whole plot is focused on her ability to do anything, despite her condition which is SO important for anyone watching who has any kind of problem or disorder that they feel holds them back. The film really explores how Dory is so much more than her short term memory problems, & teaches anyone that they can do anything as long as they be true to themselves. It’s a possible cliché but this is the best I’ve ever seen it displayed. And can we PLEASE talk about how adorable baby Dory is? My heart hurts looking at her.

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I loved every single one of the new characters which really surprised me! It’s all too easy for a film franchise or television series to throw in some new characters for the hell of making something fresh & it’s actually painful sometimes, but in this case it wasn’t only necessary but actually made sense.

There’s three major new characters; an octopus, a beluga whale & a whale shark. And they’re voiced by three amazing actors! Ed O’Neill is Hank (the octopus), Ty Burrell is Bailey (the beluga) & Kaitlin Olson is Destiny (the whale shark). I think they’re three of the funniest actors on television today, from Modern Family & It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia respectably (though I’m swaying a tiny bit more towards It’s Always Sunny at the moment). It’s so crazy to hear their voices in a children’s film context but it’s brilliant & I’m so happy they were cast.

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In terms of old characters returning, there is obviously Dory, along with Marlin & Nemo as the leading trio. The same actors return to reprise their roles, with the exception of Nemo, who is now voiced by Hayden Rolence as the original Alexander Gould is now twenty-two & doesn’t exactly sound like a baby fish anymore. Gould does have a little cameo though which is really nice, so see if you can spot him. There’s also appearances from Mr Ray, Crush & other minor characters from the first film, & if you want to see even more beloved character from 2003 I suggest you stay in the cinema till the end of the credits…

There’s other new characters too, with voices from Idris Elba, Diane Keaton, Bill Hader, Eugene Levy & Sigourney Weaver – Sigourney’s being one of the best running jokes of the film. It’s humour is so much more advanced than things to make kids giggle, & really had every adult in the cinema giggling too.

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It really seems like Disney took the time to cater this perfectly for every type of person who would see it. Obviously it’s bright colourful characters with funny moments for kids but it’s a really emotional story for parents, & new adults like me who had seen Finding Nemo as a child. There’s something about it that I can’t really put my finger on that just makes the film feel really personal, & that’s why I think it works so well.

I asked my family what they thought made Finding Dory so good. My sister just said it was “sublime”, but my Mum said it made her realise how much she’s learnt about being a parent from Disney. And I thought that was really lovely.

There’s adventure, there’s emotion, there’s characters new & old & also loads of learning – did you know octopus’s have three hearts? It’s fun as well as educational!
Finding Dory tears your heart apart then pieces it back together better than before, & I loved it. It’s a rare sequel that actually makes improves the first film, & I’m overjoyed to have seen it. I can’t recommend it enough.

Finding Dory is in cinemas worldwide now.

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