Pixar’s sequels to date have ranged from the great Toy Story 2 and 3 and the decent Monsters university to the plain rubbish Cars 2. The good news for Finding Dory, the animation powerhouse’s belated but welcome return to the underwater universe of 2003’s Finding Nemo, is that it firmly sits at the upper end of that quality spectrum but does this tale sink or swim? join Film and TV Nerd to find out!
The not-so-good news is that it’s still a few leagues beneath its Oscar-winning predecessor. Dory, you may recall, was the scatty blue tang fish whose defining characteristic – short-term memory loss – didn’t stop her helping clown fish Marlin (Albert Brooks) reunite with his lost son Nemo 13 years ago.
Andrew Stanton’s follow-up, co-directed by Angus MacLane, starts ingeniously by revealing how the infant Dory came to terms with her disability with the help of Jenny and Charlie (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy), adoring parents she inevitably forgot about the moment they separated.
Cut to the present: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) decides that things would be a whole lot better if she tracked down mum and dad, the existence of whom she has been briefly reminded by a convenient thump to the head. So across the sea she journeys, with Marlin and Nemo in tow, convinced a tearful family reunion awaits her at the Marine Life Institute in California where she spent her early years.
What actually awaits her is a cantankerous octopus (Ed O’Neill), a short-sighted whale shark and the voice of Sigourney Weaver (continuing the Pixar/Stanton association that began in Wall-E as the voice of the aquarium’s public address system. Cue some often literal fish-out-of-water exploits as Dory follows a trail of clues that whisks her through the facility’s various exhibition zones, from the idyllic environs of ‘Open Ocean’ to the terrifyingly child-friendly ‘Touch Pool’: a deceptively placid lagoon where crustaceans cower in fear of kid hands plunging in their direction.
Restricting the action to a solitary location enables a number of new characters to make their mark, among them a pair of rock-coveting basking seals (Wire duo Dominic West and Idris Elba) and a bashful Beluga (Ty Burrell) whose echolocation abilities help Dory on her quest. Considering the first film had an entire ocean at its disposal, however, you can’t help feeling shortchanged by this one at times, Even if it does provide O’Neill’s tentacled chameleon a host of opportunities to blend in with his backgrounds.
It’s fair to say that Hank is Dory’s seven-limbed secret weapon. His ability to slink, scamper and dangle, and assume virtually any form, brings out the very best in Pixar’s tireless army of animators. (He stretches his skill further in the movie’s climactic set-piece.) Again, though, your appreciation is tempered by the fact that Pixar is arriving late at this particular party, rival DreamWorks having already explored the possibilities of octopod contortions in Penguins of Madagascar.
Thankfully Finding Dory has enough moments of captivating beauty to get past its flaws. A later scene where Dory’s selective amnesia returns is as heartrending as anything Pixar have given us since Up while the use of ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong at a pivotal moment in the narrative is hilarious even if it was lost on my two kids.
Elevating Dory from comic relief/sidekick to heroine, moreover, it sends out a positive message about not just surviving but thriving with an impairment. Its just a shame they couldn’t do for Mator from Cars what they do for Dory here.
so out of a possible five stars, Finding dory earns:
Thank you for Reading.