Finding-Dory

It may have taken 13 years, but the sequel to Finding Nemo finally arrived in the form of Finding Dory this past summer and audiences returned in droves… to the tune of over a billion dollars in box office revenue. With two discs’ worth of features, the Finding Dory DVD and Blu-Ray is a must-own that should be front and center in any filmophile’s collection, especially those who adore the Disney and Pixar catalogue.

Finding Dory takes place one year after the events of the first Pixar film in the series and this time out, our favorite forgetful fish who goes on an adventure in search of something that is missing in her life… her parents.

What a fantastic hook for the story of the sequel. It is also made particularly interesting because, as well all know, Dory has short term memory loss. We feel her pain as she sees Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) treasuring their father-son bond and it leaves her wondering – where are my folks? It sends us on a flash back or two where we meet Dory as a baby (beyond the cutest thing you’ve ever seen), as her parents (voiced by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton) try to help her come to grips with her memory affliction and give her the tools to survive in the big, bad ocean with such an ailment. Through a series of events, Dory ends up separated from them and that leads her to her participation in the Finding Nemo events and takes us up to her longing for something more, something that is missing from her heart… the two people who gave her life.

So, Dory, Marlin and Nemo head back across the ocean to where our titular aquatic creature has assembled a series of memory flashes that might just fill in the blanks to this parental missing mystery. Dory has recalled that her past has something to do with an aquatic marine center on the coast of California. Once there, we meet a few new characters that impeccably fit into the Finding world, including an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) — who actually is a septo-pus, Destiny — a shark with a terrible sense of direction and Bailey (Ty Burrell), a whale whose sonar skills are less than acute.

Everyone bonds together to help Dory reunite with her parents in a film that we found utterly delightful, charming and a terrific follow-up to the 2003 smash hit.

The first film’s director, Andrew Stanton, is back and he’s joined by Angus MacLane. The pair weaves a web of animated awesomeness that is sure to please the entire family. The biggest selling point here is the film’s star, Ellen DeGeneres. So many actors and actresses can go their entire lives without finding a role that will define them, and that’s fine. But, when a performer scores one like DeGeneres has with Dory, it’s heaven on earth to see them do what they do so well.

When it comes to the bonus features, there is a bevy of bombastic brilliance.

Besides Dory herself, the runaway favorite character in all of Finding Dory had to be Hank. Crafting the seven-armed creature was an incredible challenge and although it was brought to life brilliantly by the impeccable voice casting of O’Neill, it seems that the effort to create him was one of the more incredible efforts Pixar ever undertook. “The Octopus That Nearly Broke Pixar” is a riveting focus on how the studio created “the most complicated character” the animation house has ever made.

Wonder how to not only mold a character who can’t remember what just happened, but to build an entire movie around her? Yeah, that has to be tough! “What Were We Talking About?” is an almost-five minute inside look at how filmmakers first thought of the film’s storyline and the effort to execute it in the best possible ways, given the constraints that the lead character provided.

When it comes to “official” behind-the-scenes featurettes, there is a five-part look at the making of Finding Dory that is among the best Pixar has given us in their storied history of home video. Behind the Scenes is a quintet of bonus features that starts with “Skating & Sketching with Jason Deamer.” The veteran Pixar artist dishes on his time at the company and how he came up with the character designs for Finding Dory. “Dory’s Theme” gives us a terrific look at the score that brilliantly compliments the film. “Rough Day on the Reef” is a short, but entertaining collection of computer glitches from the making of the movie that is sure to delight. Ever wonder how Finding Nemo would work as an emoji-only feature? “Finding Nemo As Told by Emoji” does just that! Finally, “Fish Schticks” is a three-and-a-half-minute series of hilarious moments that didn’t make the final film.

Remember those aquarium screensavers that were all the rage when home computers first started appearing in everyone’s abodes? Well, prepare to unleash that type of thing on your big screen at home. The kids ought to love this one… and frankly a whole lot of adults as well. “Living Aquariums” features a quartet of sea-themed fish tanks that inhabit your full television screen, from the three-hour long “Sea Grass,” to the almost-three-hour “Open Ocean,’ “Stingrays” and the hour-long “Swim to the Surface” or you can get a real aquarium here at Come Into The Water, and make the kids even happier.

Fans of the series will want to dive into the audio commentary. Director Stanton, co-director MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins explore numerous aspects of the making of the billion dollar smash, from story construction, creating new characters, the voice acting casting process and so much more.

Lastly, we have to salute the short film that appeared on theatrical screens before Finding Dory began its adventure. Piper is also included in the Blu-ray and DVD release and its tale of a baby bird leaving the nest for the first time pulls all the heartstrings and hits all the right notes.

Film Grade: A

Bonus Features: A+