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Soundtrack review: Finding Dory (Thomas Newman – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Finding Dory (Thomas Newman – 2016)


“Finding Dory” is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated comedy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is a sequel to the 2003 film, Finding Nemo. Andrew Stanton, who directed the original film, returns as writer and director. The film features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy. Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac character Dory, and explores her journey to be reunited with her family.The film takes place six months after the events of Finding Nemo and is set off the coast of California. Many characters from the first film, including Dory, Nemo, Marlin, Mr. Ray, Crush and Squirt, all appear in the sequel. Thomas Newman wrote the score.

Thomas Newman is one of the few composers that very rarely surprise the listener. He has developed over the past 25 years or so his own unique sound that rarely changes but is so effective and admired. He made light music and tone feel enjoyable and rewarding and for me, except one unreal week either side of his 60th birthday in 2015 (the week where he released “Bridge of spies” and “James Bond – Specter”) his compositions feel quite similar.

“Finding Dory” is a movie tailored for his feel good and sunny way or writing music. It’s a movie that will enchant both kids and adults alike and all it needed was a dreamy and joyful musical companion. I knew before listening to it what my feelings about the score will be so I didn’t set exaggerated expectations. Still the composer managed to surprise me with the emotional “Main titles”. This cue grabbed my hand and made me pay attention to it. This is one of those magical musical inserts that Thomas Newman drops every now and then in his scores to remind us of the emotions he delivered in scores like “American Beauty” or “Meet Joe Black”. I consider “Main titles” and “Lost at sea” as a single, wonderful, memorable cue.

Among the 34 nuggets of music in this score there are a few moments that stand out for me because they break the playful and comedic flow. “Gnarly chop” has a nice rock guitar motif at the end; “Joker at work” is my favorite cue outside of the main titles because it starts ambient and ends effervescently while “…Shells” is a score worthy of a different kind of score; it’s the longest track from the album and has time to develop and tell a story complete with a sweet Celtic motif.

“Finding Dory” will satisfy the legions of Thomas Newman fans as well as charm the movie goers. I won’t remember much from it but a few days from now but in the moment it worked fine.

Cue rating: 77 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 11 / 62

Album excellence: 18%


Finding Dory (Main Title)

Lost at Sea


Joker at work


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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