Friday, July 08, 2016

Finding Dory - just keep swimming

movie review

Finding Dory

Voice cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, and Eugene Levy
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Tagline: An unforgettable journey she probably won't remember.

Pixar Animation Studios’ 2003 release Finding Nemo – the tale of a clownfish’s search for his abducted son – remains one of its cutest and most beloved offerings. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the animation powerhouse has decided to follow the aquatic adventure with a sequel.

The story, this time, revolves around the forgetful Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a friendly regal blue tang with short-term memory loss, who helped the anxious clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) find young Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in the previous installment. A series of fragmented flashbacks reminds the scatterbrained fish that she was separated from her parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy), as a child, prompting her to go on a quest to find her family. Along the way, she accidentally gets separated from her companions, Marlin and Nemo, who frantically try to search for her. Dory ends up in a Marine Life Institute, where she meets and seeks help from various creatures – including cranky seven-legged octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill), beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), and her childhood friend, near-sighted whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) – who try to reunite her with her parents.

This isn’t exactly the most imaginative, intricate story Pixar has ever come up with, but it’s still a touching, amusing escapade that is both fun and poignant. The proceedings don’t always take the most convincing path and feel significantly less believable than Nemo’s adventure, which is why the movie makes you wish its resolutions had relied a little less on random luck. The result, therefore, isn’t as delightful as the terrific Finding Nemo, but there is still a lot to love about the sequel. Finding Dory successfully transitions a side character into the protagonist, a task made easier by the fact Dory is a lovely character and is voiced with such warmth and exuberance by DeGeneres that it’s simply impossible not to love her. Indeed, the entire voice cast is terrific. O’Neill, in particular, steals the show as the grumpy “septopus” Hank, who is one of the most memorable additions to the franchise.

As with all Pixar outings, the animation is top-notch, the visuals are impressive, and the characters are the very definition of cuteness. Finding Dory is full of joy, sorrow, and everything in between, and its emotional impact is what makes it special. The movie is on a mission to hit you right in the feels and refuses to let you leave the cinema without shedding a few tears. (Some of its sad and intense scenes might even be a bit overwhelming for younger viewers.)

On the whole, while Finding Dory doesn’t quite match the wit and inventiveness of the joy that was with its predecessor, it still wins you over with oodles of charm and a heart-warming look at family, friendship, and perseverance. Viewers who have fond memories of the 2003 classic are sure to revel in the nostalgia Finding Dory evokes and are very likely to enjoy this sequel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 8th July, 2016 *

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