Review: Finding Dory
Just keep swimming (per se) if you don’t want to read anything negative about Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory. Spoiler alert: this critic was disappointed by the long awaited sequel to the 2003 animated smash hit Finding Nemo. Let’s just say that life isn’t the bubbles (to borrow a line from The Little Mermaid‘s Under the Sea) for the film, which could have benefited greatly from a few more script rewrites. Visually, the film is a marvel, boasting gorgeous nautical animation and cinematography by a team led by Jeremy Lasky, yet overall it plunges into the Monsters University/Cars 2 Disney Pixar sequel league, rather than the Toy Story 2 prototype.
Finding Dory begins by recounting the life adventures (thus far) of the titular forgetful blue tang fish (once again voiced by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres), who lost her parents (voiced by comedic legends Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) in an accident in the Australian waters’ unfamiliar undercurrent. From a wee age when Dory was all large, round purple eyes (Disney is going to make a fortune from the merchandising of the adorable young Dory alone), she’s been seeking her family and home habitat. Yet saddled with only a memory of her name and the awareness of her short-term memory loss, Dory has been confusedly searching the waters far and wide for years (how many years is not disclosed, yet having the character voiced by Ellen DeGeneres leads audiences to believe that she’s at least close to middle age in fish years). Welcome to Memento meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Following the events of Finding Nemo, Dory suddenly remembers her journey of self-discovery as well as brief flashbacks of her parents, and enlists Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (this time voiced by Hayden Rolence)’s help in finding their location. Naturally they get split up, with Marlin and Nemo traversing the ocean and Dory finding her way around the Marine Life Institute, a Sea World-esque prison for aquatic creatures.
Writer and co-director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) also brings into the fold new characters including whales Destiny (voiced by Kaitlin Olson) and sonar challenged Bailey (voiced by Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell), septopus Hank (another Modern Family cast member, Ed O’Neill), and an uproarious pair of Regina George-esque sea lions (voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West). Dory’s ability to “speak whale”, a character trait first introduced in Finding Nemo, is finally explained, yet, much like the character of Dory herself, the bit gets tiresome after five minutes.
Although the film imparts a necessary message of embracing and accepting those with disabilities, it does not have the emotional resonance of its predecessor and, sadly, thus, is forgettable.