Forget things much? Not as much as Dory. One year after helping Merlin (Albert Brooks) find his son, Nemo (Hayden Rolence), Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), has really become a part of their family. Dory, unfortunately, was separated from her family as a young fish. She still suffers from short-term memory loss, which can make it more than a little difficult being around her.
The perfect storm prompts Dory’s memory of her parents, and serves as her motivation for braving the big blue sea one more time. With Nemo and Merlin by her side, her journey leads her to the Monterey Marine Life Institute, but separation from each other forces Dory to dig deep into her mental recesses and figure out where her guardians might be—if they are still around.
Over the next few years, the Pixar studio seems to be all in on sequels, with three out of the next four scheduled movies being continuations of previous ones. Not counting Finding Dory, which makes it four out of five. No, it wasn’t needed, but Finding Dory was probably one of the safest bets this summer and of 2016 to make as far as quality and box office goes. Not spectacular, or water-works worthy, but technically well-made and surprisingly touching.
Co-directors Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) and Angus MacLane once again make the ocean a vast and beautiful place. It’s a surprise that little of Dory’s adventure actually takes place there, though. Structurally, it is very similar to its predecessor, but the journey doesn’t feel as expansive, or as paced as efficiently. In a way, it feels very hotshotted at points. One and two great escapes are acceptable and even great, but going to the well multiple times dilutes the experience and makes the feature, animated as it is, more than a little farfetched.
Finding Dory was an interesting name for Pixar to give its sequel after it became clear in the trailers and story details that Dory was not the one lost and needing to be found. Or does she? While Dory is certainly looking for people important to her just like Merlin did, Finding Dory is as much about Dory finding herself as it is her family. It shouldn’t have been a “Whoa!” moment in the head of yours truly, but it was about midway through that it all started to click and the adventure, again as nutty and goofy as can be (still a little too goofy for my liking), started to hit the feels somewhat.
Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, is a challenging character to put as the lead. Like she is with her friends in the film, she can be annoying to sit through and hear here and there, and the reservations about making her the star appear to be correct early on. But, she does evolve, and her journey from one side of the ocean to another turns out to be heartfelt by the real end of the movie, multiple endings to wade through be damned. Nemo and Merlin return as well, and it is cool to see them back, but they are ultimately props for Dory.
A few new characters absolutely add and aid to Dory’s tale. Whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and Beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell) have similar journey stories that run concurrent to Dory’s. But it is Hank the Octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neill that comes out of this film as its most memorable character. There’s something about seeing an octopus-err–septopus—in a movie, and for that alone the character is fresh. But Hank is mysterious, self-serving, and yet with all that, a good animal deep down. But, should Pixar decide to do another entry into the sea world, Hank’s character would appear to have a lot of potential, either in prequel or sequel fashion.
Even an unoriginal Pixar movie is often still a good Pixar movie. The seawater is still quite warm with Finding Dory, and the possibility exists of returning yet again to this body of water.
Photo credits go to comingsoon.net, and YouTube.com.
Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson