Finding Dory: Film Review
Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
That Finding Dory doesn’t quite repeat the magic of Finding Nemo will really not be a surprise to many.
This parable about living with disability and those around the person with the disability trying to cope and fearing for their future is obvious from the start.
Flashing back to when Ellen DeGeneres’ little blue fish Dory was more or less just a set of big eyes, the story concerns itself this time with her quest to find her parents – when she remembers she has them.
With shards of memory dropping giving her an idea of where they now reside, Dory sets out on a desperate quest to rejoin her brood. Dragging along Nemo and Marlin (Rolence and Brooks respectively) for the ride / swim, Dory finds herself in another world of adventure when she lands up at a marine life institute.
Separated from Nemo and Marlin, Dory befriends Hank an octopus (played by Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill) who’s desperate to stay in the centre, rather than being returned to the sea, as per the marine world’s MO.
There’s no disputing the colour on show on Pixar’s latest is evocative and reminiscent of the greatness that was life under the sea in Nemo. And there’s no disputing the fact that this time around, the critters at the Marine Life Institute are a marvel to behold; once again, the animation is top notch.
But there’s a slight nagging feeling that this sequel doesn’t quite embrace enough of the darkness that is inherent in the story to ensure the heart strings are duly tugged. Perhaps it’s evident of the fact we have a lead character who always forgets, except when she doesn’t, and that the story’s stop-start potential ending feels too rushed and keen to ensure a crowd-pleasing finale and a rote chase sequence.
DeGeneres is a delight though as Dory; her infectious goofiness keeps proceedings brisk and pacy. Equally her interaction with the increasingly grumpy Hank is fun as well – in fact, a lot of the laughs of the film come from Hank’s racing around the institute and blending into the surroundings.
Finding Dory follows a lot of the similar trajectory of Finding Nemo in terms of peril for our protagonists and there’s certainly enough to keep the youngsters amused (though the last 20 minutes saw the little one I was with losing some focus and shifting around in his seat as the darker edges came to the fore).
Pixar’s proven with the likes of Inside / Out and Toy Story 3 that it can do darkness well, so it’s a shame that Finding Dory’s story strays away from where its inherent strengths could have lain. It’s still a good solid family film that entertains as much as it can – and its pre-short film Piper about a seabird finding his sea legs and filling his belly is photo-realism with a side of adorable thrown in as well.