Although known primarily for their original films, Pixar Animation Studios has released a total of five sequels or prequels to only four of their films, from Toy Story to Cars to Monsters, Inc. (A third Cars is scheduled for release next year, and a sequel to The Incredibles is currently in the works.) Depending on who you ask or talk to, one is either astounded or let down by said follow-ups. And the studio's latest addition, a follow-up to their 2003 hit Finding Nemo, had initially fit that bill for some regarding the latter reaction. (I certainly went in with low-to-middling expectations.) In fact, director Andrew Stanton, who initially didn't plan on making another film, felt led to do so after viewing a 3D version of Nemo back in 2012 and reportedly believing that Dory's story was "unresolved". (Watch the interview and video here.)
The story is set one year after Marlin the clown fish (voiced by Albert Brooks) rescues his son Nemo (voiced by Hayden Rolence) from a dentist's office in Sydney, Australia. Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), who aided Marlin on his quest, begins having flashbacks of memories as a child, and of her parents and home she has long forgotten. She eventually has Marlin and Nemo return the favor by helping her in her own quest to find her family and therefore finding her home.
|Dory as a child, with parents Charlie (left) and Jenny (right)|
Like the first film, Dory brilliantly illustrates individuals with disabilities (Dory's forgetfulness, Destiny's nearsightedness, Bailey's lost echo location abilities), as well as parents who worry for their children's lives (much like Marlin did for Nemo's previously). Yet, it also showcases the theme of fearlessness and determination, despite the inevitable fear of being forgotten as well as what it means to find "home". And in what may initially seem like a portrayal of an unsympathetic institution, several characters describe the Marine Life as a "fish hospital," with no signs of animal harm done by human characters (with the exception of a few slapstick pratfalls and physical comedy by said animals). In fact, the Institute's chief narration guide (one of the film's funniest gags, no spoilers) makes a point in saying, "It's our hope that every animal we rescue will one day be returned to the ocean," and topping it off with the Institute's theme of "rescue, rehabilitate [not keep captive], [and] release."
|Hank and Dory|
|The "Open Ocean" exhibit|