Finding Dory has been plagued with criticism even before the first trailer was seen. The moment it was announced, there was a luke-warm response from the ever critical black hole known as the internet comment section. Could this ever be as good as the first movie? Why is this even being made? Why is Pixar ruining my childhood?

Creating a sequel with a 13-year gap of the original’s release can have unshakable criticism based on built nostalgia. It doesn’t help that Pixar movies also endure the near impossible task to churn out masterpiece after masterpiece, that when a Pixar movie is simply good, well, it’s not good enough. Finding Dory has a lot stacked against it (just as Toy Story 3 did), especially coming from a movie that didn’t necessarily warrant a need for a sequel. But Finding Dory indeed succeeds in being the best possible sequel you could have gotten from Finding Nemo. While it lacks the complete originality as Inside Out or Wall-EFinding Dory  has so much fun and heart that it is indeed another accomplishment from Pixar.

The movies takes place six months after the events of Finding Nemo. Most of the original characters are back including the always cautious clown fish Marlin and his still rambunctious (but now safe) son Nemo. But front and center of the aquatic story is fan favorite side-kick Dory. Dory, of course, is the always optimistic blue tang fish that suffers from short term memory loss. Dory has a sudden glimpse of realization where she believes a whole life outside of her current home was forgotten. She sets out in search of her parents which means venturing to the Marine Biology Institute. Marlin and Nemo take action to retrieve Dory back home to the ocean.

The amazing thing about Finding Dory is how easily Dory’s character fits as the movie’s lead. Unlike Cars 2, where the wacky side kick is shoe horned into a ridiculous storyline, Dory’s story is given a purpose with fleshed out details and a solid narrative. It’s a rather seamless transition that you don’t think twice about once the movie really kicks into gear. Marlin and Nemo of course contribute a lot but they are given a back seat to Dory’s journey. While the search for her parents is never as dire or urgent as the original plot from the first movie, it’s still a fun and touching story that withholds a full 90 minutes.

Ellen DeGeneres’ comedic delivery mixed with the remarkable character animation really brings the little blue fish to life. DeGeneres encompasses the charm, comedic timing, and likability that completes Dory. Albert Brooks gives solid voice over work as the always worrisome Marlin while new characters prove to be just as strong as the originals’ supporting group of fish.  This includes Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and Always Sunny’s Kaitlan Olson voicing a duo of friendly yet impaired whales. There are also plenty of fun voiceover cameos that include Kate McKinnon, Idris Elba, and Sigourney Weaver who perhaps has the best recurring joke in the movie. But other Modern Family alum, Ed O’Neill as the camouflage skilled curmudgeon Octopus (or sevtipus due to a missing tentacle) Hank, is the best new addition to the cast. He is a great advisory and foible for Dory that make their banter quick and hilarious.

The animation is top notch as Pixar continues to prove to have some of the most masterful animators in the business. The details and colors are so extraordinary that you wonder how they continue to top themselves with these technological advancements. While Finding Nemo was able to make the illusion of a photo-real ocean possible for animation, Finding Dory perfects it.

Some will argue that the movie is a bit formulaic which it very well bay be. Or perhaps we are wising up to how Pixar presents its beats and story. Either way, the movie is a solid piece of movie making. At the end of the day you have an incredibly funny and touching movie that is able to discover a new story in a character that would otherwise be written off as nothing more than a comedic partner. The movie is never cynical of its themes of doubt, family, but more importantly hope. You will walk away with a better understanding of why Dory’s advice of “just keep swimming” is ever important.