Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Movie Review #442: "Finding Dory" (2016)

Movie"Finding Dory"
Director: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
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Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has been living with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) ever since she helped Marlin find Nemo a year prior. One night, Dory is struck with a memory of her parents, as well as the location of her old home. Now, longing to find the family she lost many years ago, Dory, Marlin, and Nemo set out on a quest to find her home and her parents...if only she could remember where she's going.

Just keep swimming!

"Finding Dory" is the long awaited sequel to the 2003 smash hit Pixar film "Finding Nemo." Ellen DeGeneres, who voices the titular Dory, has been campaigning for a sequel to "Nemo" featuring Dory for years, and it has now finally come to fruition. "Finding Nemo" is a tall order to live up to as it is one of our favorite Pixar movies, as we're sure is the case for many other fans and critics alike. We were almost worried about the sequel and wondered what it might do, if anything, to win over the hearts and minds of the people after such a grand slam like "Nemo." With realistic, tepid expectations, we were worried it would be a disappointment, but we're glad to say this is not the case in the slightest.

Let's get this out of the way: "Finding Dory" is not as good as its predecessor, but it sure is close! Ellen DeGeneres, once again, is fantastic as Dory. Her radiant, happy charm shines through our favorite animated blue tang brilliantly. We thought we might get tired of Dory as the protagonist because of her constant forgetting due to her short-term memory loss, but we never did. In fact, because of her forgetful nature, the underlying point can also made that the film wants the audience to think about those we love who are going through a disability like Dory's. The connection is too powerful to deny, and we really appreciate what the film tries to say here. We are happy Ellen championed as hard as she did for this film because she does a tremendous job. Joining her are many other spectacular actors who lend their vocal talents to this movie. Albert Brooks, who reprises his role as Marlin, once again does a great job as the worry-wart, always-playing-it-safe father of Nemo. New to the cast are the fabulous Ed O'Neill, who voices a seven-legged octopus named Hank, who joins forces with Dory in her quest to find her parents, Kaitlin Olson as Destiny the Whale Shark, and Ty Burrell as Bailey the Beluga. These animals are all part of the Marine Life Institute, which is where Marlin, Nemo, and Dory end up while trying to find her parents before getting split apart. These character are absolutely splendid. Ed O'Neill adds quite an interesting flair as Hank, who frequently camouflages and wants out of the conservatory at all costs, and Dory is just the ticket to his freedom. He's also a bit salty, not exactly friendly and seems to have a chip on his (many) shoulders. Destiny and Bailey are both in enclosures at the institute, and we learn that Dory might already know at least one of them from when she was a baby. These two characters are really funny and super entertaining. These new friends want to aid Dory in her quest to find her parents, but without Marlin and Nemo to help her remember, she sometimes has a difficult time.

After being split apart, Marlin and Nemo, now voiced by Hayden Rolence, happen upon a pair of sea lions named Fluke and Rudder, voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West, who laze about on a rock near the Institute. These two supporting characters are amazing, two more welcome, wonderful additions to the cast. Their dynamic with each other and with Marlin and Nemo are great, but there is also a third sea lion named Gerald, who also gets many laughs and ultimately triumphs over his rock-hoarding friends. This time around, it's not just Dory who gets all the glory. Each of these individual characters gets their shining moment to make the audience smile, laugh, or maybe shed a tear, though unlike "Finding Nemo," we personally got teary-eyed during this sequel.

There is an undeniable, endearing quality to this film. We are drawn to the characters new and old, and even in our 30's are enthralled by the story, despite its simplicity and the fact there is no real antagonist. Dory and her companions are faced with a series of obstacles to overcome, but there is no villain to face, which is a nice change of pace from most movies made for kids. The only downfall we found in "Finding Dory" is that it isn't quite as emotionally gripping as the other films in Pixar's repertoire. It is also very similar to its predecessor in terms of plot, following nearly the same formula to the point where it does become a little bit predictable. Ultimately, though, you can't go wrong with "Finding Dory." We really, really, really, really, really, really like this sequel and we're soooo close to loving it, but we don't absolutely love it like we did with "Finding Nemo." Even though this is the case, it is still a wonderful movie filled with excellent voice over work, brilliant and hilarious new characters, crisp and ever-evolving animation, bright, flashy colors, and a fun, adventurous spirit. Kids will love it for the newness it brings to the franchise, and adults will love the nostalgia factor.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Terminator"

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