Finding Dory Early Reviews: A Strong Pixar Sequel

Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) in Finding Dory

Finding Nemo was a huge success for Pixar when it was released in 2003. As well as winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, as well as a whole host of other awards and nominations, the movie became the second biggest film of 2003, taking over $936 million at the global box office. It has since gone on to become the best selling DVD of all time. The animation and storytelling in Finding Nemo are certainly big factors in its success, but a lot of it came down to the wonderful ocean creatures that Pixar brought to life; not least the central characters, Marlin, Nemo and of course, Dory, the lovable regal tang with memory issues.

A sequel was much longed for and long awaited but finally, Finding Dory is about to be released. Reuniting the original voices of Dory and Marlin, Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, respectively, Finding Dory focuses on Dory's efforts to remember her past in order to track down her parents. Trailers for the movie have all proven very popular and highly entertaining, seemingly promising a whole host of new characters for us to love, including Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory's parents, Ed O'Neill as Hank the bad-tempered Octopus, and Idris Elba as the Sea Lion, Fluke.

However, trailers are designed to highlight a film's best bits and as we've all learned (to our cost no doubt), a good trailer doesn't necessarily mean the film will be any good. So how does Finding Dory shape up? The initial wave of reviews for the film are now online and for the most part they are positive. Almost all praise the franchise for making a strong sequel (though not without its flaws), one that stands both alone and as a part of a wider story - and there is also praise for the concept, too.

Below, we have rounded up a selection of Finding Dory review excerpts for you to take a look at. Be warned that if you click on the links to read the full reviews, there may be spoilers or plot points that you might wish to avoid:

Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West) in Finding Dory

Indiewire - David Ehrlich

Finding Dory doesn’t feel lazy, cynical, or like a rehash. On the contrary, it does what a sequel should — it’s a compelling argument for why we make them in the first place... Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that “Finding Dory” is moving so fast because it doesn’t want viewers to notice how familiar the scenery looks — even in its best moments, the film lacks the knockout creativity upon which Pixar has built its brand. But what the studio’s latest lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in feeling.

Screen Crush - Matt Singer

Stanton nails all the classic Pixar emotional beats, and brings back most of the studio’s greatest thematic hits: Like so many of the studio’s previous features, Dory is a story about the unbreakable bonds between parents and children, mismatched partners bonding over the course of a long adventure, and the pleasures of a team working together to achieve a common goal. After 21 years, that formula is still very satisfying. But it also feels more like a formula than ever before. We love Pixar not only for the way they make us laugh and tug at our heartstrings, but also for their innovations along the way.

EW - Chris Nashawaty

Written and co-directed by Andrew Stanton (returning to the Pixar fold after the bruising live-action fiasco, John Carter), Finding Dory adheres to the maxim that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s basically the same tale told in Nemo with some chairs move around and a fresh coat of paint. Still, one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises in a film with too few of them is just how resonant Dory will be for parents of kids with learning disabilities.

UpRoxx - Mike Ryan

Before watching Finding Dory, I worried that Dory’s short-term memory loss issue would grow, let’s say, tiresome. Strangely, there were a couple of times in the first half I found myself thinking, Okay, I get it, but by the excellent second half of the film, I didn’t care. (Boy, that second half just pops.) It’s never dropped, but it just becomes more part of the story, as opposed to a character trait.

Hank (Ed O'Neill) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) in Finding Dory

The Wrap - Alonso Duralde

Over the years, we’ve come to expect Pixar features, at their best, to function as delivery systems for laughs, tears and adrenaline. And even if “Finding Dory” is less of an assault on the tear ducts than some of its predecessors... it more than compensates in the other two departments. Sequel-wise, that puts this follow-up to 2003’s “Finding Nemo” leagues ahead of “Cars 2” and “Monsters University” if not quite at the level of the second and third “Toy Story” entries. Still, the studio has figured out an organic reason to bring back the forgetful fish voiced so memorably by Ellen DeGeneres, and they’ve crafted a story that puts her comfortably front and center.

/Film - Peter Sciretta

So how does it compare against its predecessor? In its best moments, Dory is more emotional and funnier than its predecessor. The movie feels more of a result of Pixar 2.0, somehow a more complex and layered adventure. [Overall], I believe Finding Nemo is the better film... [But] if you’re looking for a reason to return to the multiplex since Captain America: Civil War, this is it. Finding Dory is a great sequel to a beloved classic in a Summer of sequels that have mostly disappointed.

So far, the consensus seems to be that although Finding Dory is similar to Finding Nemo in a number of ways (as far as plot beats go), there are less tears and more laughs and, the similarities don't make it a bad movie - not at all. Of course, reviews are subjective and one person's thought's won't necessarily be the same as another's, as evidenced by the one negative Finding Dory review so far:

THR - Todd McCarthy

Certainly there's enough goofy, boisterous comedy produced by all these energetic characters to keep kids amused. But central to the film's shortcomings is the fact that Dory's mental handicap makes her, at prolonged exposure, a one-note character... In other words, while rambunctious and passably humorous, this offspring isn't nearly as imaginative and nimble-minded as the forerunner that spawned it.

To sum up then, most agree that Finding Dory is a strong Pixar sequel with a host of entertaining new characters for us to enjoy. Sure, the storyline might feel a little recycled, and at times the action might move too slowly or too fast but it seems as though, if you were a fan of Finding Nemo, then Finding Dory will be an enjoyable and worthwhile visit to the movies.

NEXT: Finding Dory Box Office Opening Predictions

Finding Dory, along with the new Pixar short, Piper, opens in U.S. theaters on June 17th, 2016.

Sources: Various (see above)

Key Release Dates
  • Finding Dory (2016) release date: Jun 17, 2016
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