Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang fish suffering from short term memory loss, suddenly sees something that reminds her of her mother (voice of Diane Keaton) and father (voice of Eugene Levy), who she had been accidentally separated from as a child. She's befriended Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence) and Nemo's father, Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks), and they agree to tag along with her to the Marine Life Institute in California in hopes of finding her parents. Once they arrive near land, Dory ends up separated from Nemo and Marlin, and has to rely on her new friends from the Marine Life Institution, i.e. an octopus, Hank (Ed O'Neill) that can camouflage, two sea lions (voice of Idris Elba and Dominic West) and beluga whale (voice of Ty Burrell).
Finding Dory finds just the right balance of laughter, poignancy and action-adventure that makes for quite fun ride. Much of the humor is aims toward younger audiences, but there are some jokes (i.e. one involving Sigourney Weaver and a reference to Thelma & Louise) that adults will appreciate more than kids. In other words, just you'd expect in a Pixar movie, both children and adults will be entertained. The smaller characters, i.e. the octopus, sea lions and the beluga whale, provide a good deal of the comic relief. A huge part of what makes the film so moving is when it comes to how Dory gradually remembers more and more about her past while learning valuable lessons about not giving up along the way. There's one particular scene with Dory alone in the ocean toward the end that pulls at your heartstrings the strongest---in fact, that scene is almost as sad and dark as much of Bambi which would make for an interesting double feature with Finding Dory. The action-packed third act will uplift and thrill audiences young and old, though, but at least the film earns its uplift and will make you cheer for Dory every step of the way.
On a purely technical level, Finding Dory is an absolutely marvel to look at with colorful, dazzling CGI that looks so real that you might forget that you're actually watching an animated film. This is definitely the kind of film you want to experience on the big screen. The musical score is very well-chosen, and the film moves along at just the right pace with rarely a scene that drags. All-in-all, Finding Dory deserves to be nominated for Best Animated Feature, but its ultimate triumph is that it will win your heart over. As an added bonus, audiences will be delighted by Piper, the animated short preceding the film, directed by Alan Barillaro, about a baby sandpiper who learns to overcome its fear of the water. Expect that short to be nominated for an award as well.