Genie, Olaf, Mushu, Edna, Sebastian. These are just a few of the memorable scene-stealing side characters that have brought stories to life. The charm of the quirky side characters is that it allows our protagonist to focus on their purpose, while the supporting character can be caught up in all manner of mischief and humor, inevitably making them more interesting and lovable than the character they exist to accompany.
Dory is just such a one. Over a decade ago, the adorably forgetful blue fish's chance encounter with Marlin the clownfish and ensuing adventure made Dory one of the most beloved animated characters of all time. The brilliance of Ellen DeGeneres' voice acting of the supporting character completely stole the show, and Dory has been one of the most recognizable faces of Pixar ever since.
Dory's incurable short-term memory loss made it inevitable that she would eventually lose Marlin and Nemo, but Finding Dory is not as much about the father-son combo seeking her out as you might think. Finding Dory is as much about Dory finding herself as it is about her being found. While the script is fairly predictable, Dory's journey to discover her identity and home delivered unexpected emotional punch, but sandwiched it between enough comic levity and preposterous peril to keep it from getting weighed down in lengthy sentimentality or heavy-handed pathos. Moments tugged on particular heartstrings, but not in Up style devastation.
Finding Dory very much feels like a reverse of Finding Nemo. Where Nemo featured a father looking for a son while the son tried to escape the confines of a fish tank, Dory features the child seeking her parents within the confines of a much much larger fish tank-- a conservatory be exact, not unlike Sea World, but with a repeated purpose to rehabilitate and release the animals back into the ocean (a distinction made necessary by Blackfish no doubt). Nemo received help from another fish desperate to return to the ocean, while Dory receives help from an octopus desperate to stay away from the ocean, far preferring his life of captivity.
Finding Dory is an altogether worthy follow-up to the classic Finding Nemo, being effervescent and full of heart, but also putting a few nicks on that heart. But with Pixar, that's really to be expected by now. Although it doesn't strike me as being on par with its predecessor, nor being quite as memorable on its own, it does well as a sequel.