Lost and found6/22/2016
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
“Finding Dory” is the sequel that nobody needed but everybody thought they wanted. A whopping 13 years after “Finding Nemo” hit theaters, Pixar returns to familiar waters, giving us a follow-up film that shifts the focus to Nemo’s forgetful Blue Tang buddy, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), and her quest to find her parents.
Set one year after the events in “Nemo,” Dory now lives in the same coral reef with Nemo and his father, Marlin (Albert Brooks). Dory — who has short-term memory loss — is hit with a dream that conjures up a dim recollection of her mother and father and the day that she was separated from them. This enables Dory to remember that she was born in California, which sends her, Nemo and Marlin back into the open ocean on another adventure, one that includes sea lions, an octopus (voiced by Ed O’Neill), a car chase, the city of Cleveland and Sigourney Weaver.
“Finding Nemo” quickly became a beloved children’s classic because it was Pixar at nearly the height of its creative abilities. The film looked gorgeous, had a clever plot, memorable characters and lots of humor, good lessons and heart. “Finding Dory” looks every bit as good but misfires on just about every other point. There are certainly more than a few laughs to be had, but they feel cheaper and less subtle or clever than anything “Finding Nemo” provided. The plot jumps around like a kid with attention deficit disorder, alternating between serving up set pieces specifically to cameo in “Finding Nemo” characters and hitting you with extended flashbacks of an impossibly adorable baby Dory and her parents. The flashbacks happen far too often and are clearly a crutch upon which the screenwriters lean heavily to get basic plot points across.
“Finding Dory” does have its own charm, however. The film is bright, upbeat and fun. The voice acting is great, and DeGeneres is happily immersing herself in the Dory character and is a great comedic voice to build a film upon. But where “Finding Nemo” was an instantly memorable classic, “Finding Dory” is ultimately bound to be much more forgettable. Less than 48 hours after having seen the film, I am having a hard time recalling the name of a single new character from it, and even basic plot points are fading from memory.
If you are just looking for a bright, fun, happy film to take your kids to and kill a couple hours before dinner, “Finding Dory” is going to fit the bill in spades, even if it does drag in spots and feel a bit longer than its 90-minute run time. But if you are looking for the next great Pixar film to add to your home collection, you are most likely to be disappointed. After seemingly being able to do no wrong for the first decade of its life, Pixar has hit a creative wall since “Toy Story 3” in 2010. Despite having released six films since then, many people would be at a loss to name any of them beyond “Finding Dory” and “Inside Out.” Pixar’s previous film, 2015’s “The Good Dinosaur,” was the studio’s lowest grossing film to date. “Finding Dory” should ultimately do much better than that, but it would still appear that the golden age of Pixar films is well behind us. CV