Finding Dory successfully manages to be both an origin story and a thoughtful fable about disability.
There’s plenty of amusement to be had as the forgetful blue Tang goes on a quest to find her family. Along the way, the movie reveals the origins of her quirks, such as her ability to speak whale. At the same time, the script tackles her disability with care. It reflects how disabled people end up being blamed for something out of their control. With Nemo as the voice of reason, Marlin needs to understand – not just acknowledge – Dory’s condition.
Ellen DeGeneres proves once again that she’s the right voice for Dory, effectively flipping between anxiety and eagerness. She’s surrounded by endearing characters thanks to superb voice acting from the supporting cast, which includes a near-sighted whale and a couple of lethargic seals. The most memorable among them is a septopus octopus named Hank, possibly one of the best well-written characters Pixar has created.
All these elements come together to make an entertaining sequel that doesn’t feel like a rehash or a cash grab.
On the other hand, Finding Dory is standard offering. There are no visual feats or imaginative sights to behold. Finding Nemo explored the depths and dangers of the ocean while Finding Dory is confined in an aquatic park with its generic aquariums and tanks. It doesn’t help that the plot is comprised of frenetic sequences connected by contrivances. Dory doesn’t actually solve anything here, she gets lucky at every turn.
In fairness, this doesn’t mean that Pixar made less effort. The realistic fish slime and the convincing varying state of waters that our characters end up in, shouldn’t be taken for granted. The wide-angle shots of a forgetful Dory are effective in giving a sense of loneliness and longing. The movie’s physical comedy, Alien tie-ins, and visual gags are entertaining.
Overall, Finding Dory is still an entertaining and enjoyable sequel. It doesn’t stack-up to its more inventive peers like Inside Out, Wall-E, and Up. But it’s still a serviceable follow-up. More importantly, it teaches us that disabled people are more than just their disability.
Finding Dory repackages a familiar story to deliver a thoughtful fable about disability.