WALT DISNEY PICTURES / PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS (2016)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Set after the events of Finding Nemo, everyone’s favourite forgetful Tang, Dory, returns – and promptly suffers a whack on the head - leading to her recounting her childhood, and how she became separated from her parents in the imaginatively titled Finding Dory.

 

Travelling the ocean and set within the confines of a Marine Life Institute, Dory is off to find her parents, with help from friends new and old. It’s a bit like Sea World, but the fish are nurtured back to health before being returned to the ocean, so it’s all good.

We meet a shaky beluga whale struggling to reign in his abilities, a helpful shark with sight issues, a scatty Loon called Becky, two cockney sea lions (providing a Wire reunion) and we are reacquainted with the hippy turtles and of course, Nemo and Marlin. Dory’s main assistance, though, comes from chameleon-like octopus Hank – a miserable multi-legged curmudgeon.

 

The visuals employed to create Hank are nothing short of superb, and probably rank as Pixar’s finest achievement to date. The crisp movements and meticulous skin rendering are wonderfully created and small details such as water residue and sucker noises establish a great animation accomplishment. Voiced grumpily by Ed O’Neill, Hank will live on after the movie for sure. As for the rest of the movie? It’s Pixar, it looks magnificent.

 

Ellen DeGeneres is splendid again as Dory – our heroine with short term memory loss. Jumping from fish on crack mode to sorrowful to spirited with consummate ease, Dory is given greater exposure and a deeper exploration in her own production. Her memory loss (or disability, to be frank) is treated as less of a gag (as it was in Finding Nemo) and now becomes more a heavy plot device, and also designed to tug at your heartstrings (as is the fish hospital the movie is based in). Similarly to Nemo’s deformed flipper, any impairments are presented as opportunities for strength as opposed to deficiencies. Though the message to never give up almost became tattooed onto my eyeballs by the movie’s end.

 

The star level through the movie is impressive, with voice acting from the likes of Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, Willem Dafoe all popping up in various forms, though it was Sigourney Weaver who voiced the cameo that bought me most joy throughout.

 

Yes, Finding Dory is primarily aimed at children but I couldn’t buy the movie’s ending, it just felt too out of place and OTT compared to the rest of the movie (and its amphibious cousin Finding Nemo) though it is absolutely bonkers to watch. Kids will love it, adults maybe not so much.

 

Full of fun moments, entertaining characters and enough emotion to keep small people hooked, Finding Dory is another fine addition to the Pixar Hall of Fame. Not as glorious as its cousin Finding Nemo, and better than most Pixar sequels, find the kid in you and dive in.

March 29th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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