Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the short-term memory loss suffering blue tang is back in the latest entry from Pixar, that sees her on the journey to find her parents, with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) helping her out, and going out on an adventure of their own, when Dory gets lost along the way.
Did we need to revisit the ocean and catch-up with Dory and the rest? No, but that doesn’t mean the film treads water. While I like when Pixar does something new, it is nice to catch up with familiar characters as well, as long as the characters grow (or have grown) and there is a good story to go with it.
This one is definitely geared at pulling on the heart-strings as Dory begins to have flashbacks to her childhood, where she is voiced by Sloane Murray, with her loving parents, played by Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton. We see how she was lost, and the journey that brought her into Marlin and Nemo’s life.
From there, they begin a journey across the ocean to California to find their way into a Marine Life Institute and Park which Dory recalls as home. Along the way she is aided by a cranky octopus, Hank (Ed O’Neill), a sea lion voiced by Idris Elba, a flurry of otters, and friends, Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) and Bailey (Ty Burrell).
It’s a beautiful film to watch, and it’s absolutely amazing to realize that the original was released thirteen years ago There have been leaps and bounds forward in technology, and it is there on the screen, as the landscapes, and the ocean landscape is almost photo-real, but still a suitable home to the animated characters we have grown to love over the past decade.
There are great gags (there’s a nice Alien one) in the film, eliciting laughs for both young and old, there are some new friends to be enjoyed, like Sigourney Weaver, Pixar in-jokes (A113 and pretty sure I saw the Pizza Planet truck) and of course, their good luck charm, John Ratzenberger is there as well.
I don’t think the characters are as meaningful as they were in the first film, a lot of them seemed interchangeable, but the heart of the story, and the emotions at it core make this one an enjoyable entry in the Pixar oeuvre. There are a number of poignant moments as Dory, Marlin and Nemo learn the depth of their own bonds and those of family.
As usual, Pixar has made a family film that is head and shoulders over most of the other family fare, because they realize their films are for the whole family, not just the youngest members therein – and make sure you stay through the credits for a wonderful tag.
Preceded by the charming short Piper, Finding Dory ends up being a fine Pixar film, but I really want to see some new worlds from them, which should be Coco, in November 2017, but between now and then we have Cars 3, and after it, Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2. I hope they don’t go back to the well too often, and get out and tell some new tales as well…