Andrew Stanton / Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson / Adventure / 2016 / U / 97mins
13 years… 13 years we’ve waited. Et voila – Pixar finally knock out a sequel to one of their seminal works and our collective prayers are answered: Finding Dory is not a rehash.
Dory (played by Ellen DeGeneres in a role she will surely never top) suddenly, and quite dramatically, does something she has never done before: she remembers. So the adventure begins with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in tow.
The story follows the titular character a year on from the heroics of the first movie, with Dory fitting snuggly into coral life. By chance, she is reminded of a past memory that she has never remembered before (for those of you not au fait with the first film, Dory suffers from short term memory loss). In particular, she remembers her family. Keep that Kleenex close at hand, it’s going to get emotional.
Pixar rarely suffer a glitch, yet Finding Dory coughs up a few dilemmas. Travelling from the Great Barrier Reef to California is quite the trek but, like a limp Bond film, Dory & co traverse the Pacific in one single transition. Oh yeah, we’ll blame the ‘currents’ for that. (A cheeky, yet forced, cameo for Crush the Turtle ensues – why bother?) Relying on luck is annoying. Dare I say it: it’s a weak script from Pixar. Aristotle would be disgusted.
Following the emotional climax, the movie tails off drastically. Otters happen to be about, Becky saves Marlin and Nemo, Hank the Octopus changes his mind… like a tantrum child, Finding Dory screams for a happy ending but, to quote Jeff Goldblum’s Jurassic Park line: “They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
DeGeneres is the shining jewel in the movie, especially as Brooks underwhelms. The new characters fit the bill and make up for this gap in dialogue. They’re quirky and as colourful as the animation on screen. Gerald the Seal, however, baffles me. For a film about disabilities, you would expect a seal with supposed learning difficulties to be sympathised with. Alas, Gerald is bullied by those around him – and no one helps. I would understand in different circumstances – dumb stuff is funny – but here it’s so awkward. To stray from the core of both films is a deep betrayal on Pixar’s part.
In terms of animation, this is probably the best Pixar have ever achieved. If it wasn’t for the blatant cartoonishness of the characters I would think it were a live film. Mesmerising stuff.
I enjoyed Finding Dory, but not as much as I should have. There was so much potential here. The central narrative – finding Dory’s parents – was unavoidable. Any scriptwriter, nay, your neighbour or cat would have known this was the right step to take. The filler, however, disinterests me. Marlin and Nemo’s subplots are bafflingly simple with no sense of wit or fun. We know Pixar are capable of a good sequel – Toy Story 3 was arguably the best in the series – but they’ve cut corners here.
Perhaps with a smoother, processed ending, and a little editing here and there, Finding Dory could have been the piece de resistence in Pixar’s backcatalogue. For now, it’s simply ‘one of the better ones’.
I may be tearing into Finding Dory somewhat but that’s because I liked it and knew that, with an extra push, it could have been amazing. A near-miss masterpiece that continues the form of perhaps the greatest film studio in the world. Those pesky animators at Pixar had better never stop making movies or I will be very sad indeed. A film worthy for all the family to enjoy.
Film as a film – 3 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 4
Finding Dory is out in cinemas now
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