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Dan's Review: "Finding Dory" keeps swimming

Jun 16, 2016 02:43PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Finding Dory - © 2016 - Disney/Pixar.

Finding Dory (Disney Pixar)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

Starring (voices of) Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Katherine Ringgold, Bennett Dammann,  Sloane Murray, Lucia Geddes, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis, Jerome Ranft, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, Alexander Gould, Torbin Xan Bullock, ohn Ratzenberger, Angus Maclane.

Written by Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson.

Directed by Andrew Stanton.

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:

Don’t you hate when you really love a movie and then the studios go out and ruin the experience by making a subpar sequel? Finding Nemo is one of the most beloved animated films of all time, and even though it took 13 years, Disney finally got around to making a second act with this week’s release of Finding Dory. Did they ruin the original?

Ellen Degeneres returns as Dory, the regal blue tang fish who suffers from short term memory loss. The story picks up one year after Dory’s adventure with Marlin (Albert Brooks), the worrisome clown fish during his quest to recover his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence this time) from a fish tank in Australia. When Dory starts to recall memories of her childhood with her parents Jenny and Charlie (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) in a faraway part of the ocean, Marlin and Nemo accompany her to the “Marine Life Institute” (modeled after the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) on the northern California shore. When Dory gets tangled in ocean waste, she is picked up by marine biologists and brought to the aquarium for rehabilitation. There, she meets Hank (Ed O’Neill), an octopus (referred to as a “septopus,” since he lost a tentacle) intent on escaping the facility and getting to Cleveland, where he can live out his life in solitude. Dory agrees to help Hank, if he will help her find her parents. Through several adventures with a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlyn Olson) and beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), Dory remembers more from her past as she gets closer to home. Meanwhile, Marlin and Nemo try to get into the aquarium with the help of two sea lions (Idris Elba and Dominic West).

Will Dory find her parents? Will Marlin and Nemo be reunited with her?

Finding Dory is a good film and decent sequel, on par with other Pixar franchises like Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story (Cars notwithstanding). The secret to great franchises is great characters, and the Dory is one of the more sympathetic ones in the Pixar universe. That said, there were few surprises in store for a character like Dory who’s prone for mischief and has a heart of gold. You know how the story is going to end, unless you think the Pixar folks are going to have a sudden desire to explore their “dark side.”

The new characters in Finding Dory are likable, but not as memorable as Nemo’s tank mates in the first film (Gil, Bloat, Peach, Gurgle, Deb and Bubbles make a cameo after the end credits, so stick around). Perhaps it’s the absence of conflict (getting out of the dentist office tank) that make all the Marine Life Institute characters less interesting, since they are all content with their protected status. 

Despite these minor distractions, Finding Dory offers a few emotional moments, and a rare glimpse of what it means to love a person with mental disabilities. It would be a good thing to find a little bit of Dory in all of us.


Finding Dory Trailer

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