“Finding Dory,” Pixar’s long-awaited sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” opened June 17 to excellent reviews. Though they don’t quite match the raves for the original — 78 on MetaCritic and 95% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to respective scores of 90 and 99% for “Nemo” — they do suggest another potential Oscar-winner. After all, “Dory” has already outscored recent Best Animated Feature champs “Brave” (2012) and “Frozen” (2013) with critics.
“Finding Nemo” was one of Pixar’s biggest hits, and that’s really saying something as every Pixar picture has grossed more than $100 million domestically (and all but four topped $200 million). “Nemo” was the third highest grossing film for the company, pulling in $339 million. And it’s actually Pixar’s biggest money-maker ever when you account for inflation. Worldwide the fish flick netted $936 million, so it’s no wonder a sequel was in order.
“Nemo” won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and it also picked up three other nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Best Score (Thomas Newman) and Best Sound Editing. While it didn’t earn a Best Picture bid like “Up” (2009) and “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Nemo” was released years before the academy expanded the Best Picture race to include up to 10 nominees.
Owen Gleiberman (Variety): “It’s a film that spills over with laughs (most of them good, a few of them shticky) and tears (all of them earned), supporting characters who are meant to slay us (and mostly do) with their irascible sharp tongues, and dizzyingly extended flights of physical comedy.”
Dana Stevens (Slate): “If ‘Finding Nemo,’ ostensibly the story of a widowed clownfish’s search for his missing son, was in fact a canny parable about the joys and anxieties of parenthood, its 13-years-later sequel ‘Finding Dory’ explores—in Pixar’s typically whimsical, jewel-toned, sight-gag-stuffed fashion—an entirely different existential condition of adulthood: the grown-up child’s quest to reclaim and understand his or her ever-receding past … ‘Finding Dory’ often goes, if you’ll forgive the maritime metaphor, to a level a few fathoms below the cruising depth of its much-loved predecessor.”
A.O. Scott (New York Times): “‘Dory,’ directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, is certainly the best non-‘Toy Story’ sequel the studio has produced. That may sound like faint praise … but what ‘Dory’ lacks in dazzling originality it more than makes up for in warmth, charm and good humor.”
Anna King (Time Out New York): “Pixar’s wizardry is baked into every detail, from the sun-dappled ocean surfaces to the underwater visuals that border on photorealism. It’s unforgettable stuff. A ‘Nemo’ trilogy might be pushing the franchise too far (does the world really need ‘Finding Marlin’?), but Dory’s journey of self-discovery is a worthy partner to its predecessor.”