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Review: Pixar continues its success with 'Finding Dory'

Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 4:39 PM Central

by John Couture

Let's be frank. Pixar is a machine. It's a well-oiled machine with a singular purpose and it very effective at its job, but it is a machine. The business of this machine is to produce family-friendly animated box office blockbusters and business is indeed good.

My kids will never know a world in which Pixar does not exist. They will never be deprived of the wonderful stories and mesmerizing visuals of their films.

I'm completely jealous of them.

I can't complain too much, I did grow up in a world with Disney, but my generation was sort of caught between the two big Disney periods marked by The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid. I was already 14 by the time The Little Mermaid hit theaters, so forgive me for being envious of the great animated period that my kids will grow up in.

Ever since they entered the scene with Toy Story in 1995, Pixar has absolutely owned the animated film world. Sure, there have been worthy adversaries over the years, but when it comes to animated, Pixar is the gold standard. For the longest time, Pixar resisted the pressure to make sequels to its biggest hits (save for Toy Story), but thankfully they have become more willing to make sequels in recent years.

It took 13 years for them to make a sequel Finding Nemo, but the wait was well worth it. Finding Dory picks up a year after the events of the first film and this time it's Dory's turn to propel the story forward. Famous for her forgetful memory, Dory starts to remember pieces of her childhood and sets off to find her parents.

Given the themes of love and loss and the bonds of family that made the first film so great, it was a logical story to tell, and yet, Finding Dory doesn't just feel like a rehash of the first film. There are many new characters and predicaments that both pays an homage to the earlier films as well as strike a chord with a new generation.

As with every Pixar film, the journey is just as fulfilling as the destination. While it's great to check back in with Marlin, Nemo and Dory, the real excitement comes from realizing that these characters have grown into themselves over the last year in their world and continue to grow.

That's the real secret behind Pixar films, they invest heavily in their characters and their attention to detail shines through. Whether it's Hank, the septopus, or the whale shark Destiny, there are no cardboard cutouts here. We believe the events that transpire in the film because they have spent years creating the foundation upon which the story is crafted.

Another thing that sets Pixar apart from their peers is the impressive home entertainment packages that they put together. These days, many studios are opting for bare-bones versions of packaged media, but Pixar also packs their discs with numerous bonus features.

Whether it's in-depth character featurettes, or something as simple as deleted scenes, the added content provide a rich resource that helps add to the appreciation of the film. It also doesn't hurt that kids are also excited to see more from their favorite new characters, so anything that keeps them entertained for another hour earns huge brownie points in my book.

Ultimately, Finding Dory is a film that holds up well to repeat viewings and has quickly become a classic in our home. As Pixar moves forward with even more sequels in the coming years, Finding Dory is a great reminder that not only do they do original film well, but they also find great ways to tell new and compelling stories in worlds that we are already familiar with.