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I wasn’t planning on this being a particularly long review, as there’s actually not much to say about the film. That’s not to say it’s bad and there’s nothing worth talking about—quite the contrary, I absolutely adore the film—it’s just that it’s everything I expected from Pixar (and even Disney, seeing as they appear to be getting their mojo back).
People familiar with the original Finding Nemo will probably go into this sequel thinking that it’s going to be a rehash of that film, which is common with Disney films (as for Pixar, I’m not totally sure. I’m not as familiar with their lineup, but I’ll fix that eventually). To be completely honest, I don’t remember a whole lot from the original—aside from the Nostalgia Critic’s Disneycember review of it—as it’s been over a decade since I’ve seen it. But, I can say with absolute certainty that for such a simple premise, these guys really rolled with this, and came up with something clever, heartwarming, and positively hilarious.
I don’t think I have to say much about the animation and art style in the film. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Pixar excels at producing top notch visuals, and it’s no different here. The colours are gorgeous and vibrant, the bloom and shimmer effects really make you feel like you’re underwater while it’s sunny out, and the glossy textures on the fish really make them look slippery.
All the characters are cute and memorable (and I’m glad they made the humans look cartoony as well to match the overall style). Aside from Dory (’cause let’s be real, she’s everyone’s favourite since the first film), my personal favourites are her friend Destiny (with whom she has some of the funniest conversations in the entire film—I swear, I think I’ll start talking in whale with my friends from time to time just to annoy the heck out of them) and Hank the seven-legged octopus, who gives Dory a whole lotta sass throughout her journey to find her parents.
The thing that impresses me the most about this movie is how well-paced it is. It’s packed with jokes but knows exactly when to throw them at you, and it’s very clever about slowly revealing the meaning behind certain puns. On the other hand, there are plenty of atmospheric and emotional moments that are balanced nicely with the comedic antics. You’d think that the whole short-term memory loss thing Dory has going on would get old, but this movie is amazing at keeping it fresh and relevant with each obstacle she encounters.
It makes for good jokes for sure, but it also makes for these really clever scenes with Dory remembering snippets from her past out of order to correspond with the next step she takes in her journey, which of course relates to the puns I mentioned earlier. It’s really interesting to see how she comes to conclusions and how her unique thought process works in getting her to go where she needs to be. The more that’s revealed, the more curious we get and the more guesses we make, until it all comes full circle.
Dory is a great example of learning to believe in a character and trusting that things can be better—and learning about the different points in her past life in context makes it all the more interesting, and we sympathize with her more because of it, not just because she’s the lead character. She may have her flaws, but they’re out of her control (initially, at least, until she learns to use them as a strength in forming her own logic), her heart is in the right place, and she’s just so darn likable. This is certainly a unique way of telling a story, and we’re trusting her to do it!
I’m gonna stop here before I go and spoil all the moments I really enjoyed. If you haven’t seen it yet, I implore you to do it, even if you haven’t seen the first. This whole film really is based on one line said in Finding Nemo, but you’ll be able to figure out what’s going on really quickly in spite of that. It’s a great, fun flick for the whole family with a message anyone can relate to about working with what you’ve got and always keeping a positive attitude regardless of the circumstances (it helps that the film isn’t super preachy about it, even though it is rather open about the message—I guess it’s because it’s worked naturally into the dialogue).
So, go help Dory find her family if you haven't already!