REVIEW: Finding Dory

June 16, 2016

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“…smart, funny, and visually astounding…”
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REVIEW: Finding Dory

Erin Free
Year: 2016
Rating: G
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Cast:

Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill

Distributor: Disney
Released: June 16
Running Time: 103 minutes
Worth: $18.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…smart, funny, and visually astounding…

How do you follow up greatness? It’s a tough ask, especially in cinema, but sometimes there’s an emphatic answer, like The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, and all the other oft-trodden-out examples of equal sequels. Animation giant, Pixar, even managed it themselves previously with the mighty Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, but faltered a little with their second-go-rounds on Monsters Inc. and Cars. Now they take a major gamble with Finding Dory, the sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo, one of the studio’s most distinct, well-loved, and singularly plot-based films.

That animated masterwork was all about one very particular – and very one-off – journey, making for an instant challenge come sequel time. Yes, the characters are wonderful, but so much of the film is about the task at hand, so how do you rework that? Well, with Finding Dory, co-screenwriter and co-director, Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, WALL.E), has found a way that works, and while the sequel doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of its predecessor, it’s a worthy follow-up indeed.

The journey this time is that of the ever-forgetful fish, Dory (voiced once again – and beautifully so – by Ellen DeGeneres), to find her parents, who have slowly swum back into her hilariously unreliable memory. With her now friends and housemates, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), caught in the slipstream too, Dory zooms off across the ocean, eventually finding herself trapped in a huge aquarium-come-fun park, which comes complete with so many obstacles and spirit-challengers that it looks like it was dreamed up by Joseph Campbell.

While the jokes don’t fly as thick and fast as they did in Finding Nemo (the action-style sequences, however, are even better), there’s a truly winning sense of pathos at work here that makes Finding Dory something truly special. Set up as comic relief in the first film, Dory becomes an even more lost and sympathetic figure as she essentially takes centre stage as the star of the film. Ever optimistic, she’s a displaced naif with a big heart who just wants to find her folks. While it’s mildly disconcerting to see Marlin and Nemo in wholly supporting roles, there are a gaggle of great new characters to delight in. The best of these is unquestionably Ed O’Neill’s cantankerous Hank, a Han Solo-style octopus who makes out like he doesn’t care, but who really has a heart of gold. Stunningly rendered, he’s an instant winner. Ty Burrell and Kaitlin Olson are fun too, though Idris Elba is proving to be a bit of a voice acting tart, with his minor bit here coming so soon after Zootopia and The Jungle Book.

Though smart, funny, and visually astounding in that wonderful and seemingly effortless Pixar way, Finding Dory also zings and pings with touching, heartfelt emotion. So don’t worry, fans, there’s nothing fishy going on here: Finding Dory is well worth catching, and is much, much more than just a cheap-and-easy cash-in.

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