Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Finding Dory

(G) ★★★★

Director: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane.

Cast: (voices of) Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy.

Dory's friends were tiring of her whale impersonations.

OUTSIDE of the brilliant Toy Story trilogy, Pixar has been underwhelming with its prequels and sequels to date.

Cars 2 was largely panned by critics and is rightly regarded as the worst Pixar film to date. Monsters University was a so-so effort that failed to recapture the charm and pathos of Monsters Inc.

Given that Pixar’s calendar is brimming with sequels – Cars 3, The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 are all on the way – you could be forgiven for wondering if the computer animation studios near-bulletproof reputation was wearing thin. Maybe the well is running dry.

Sure, they released Inside Out last year and it just so happened to be the best film of 2015, but do we really need a sequel to Finding Nemo and could it possibly be any good?

The answers to those questions, thankfully, are yes and yes.

A year after Dory (DeGeneres) helped Marlin (Brooks) find his son Nemo (Rolence), Dory goes off in search of her own parents after fragments of memories pop up in her frazzled brain. This sparks a cross-Pacific journey – with Marlin and Nemo in tow – to the marine park where Dory grew up.

Finding Dory takes an interesting tack, not just by making Dory the main character but by re-examining who she is – in a sense, the title is a spiritual one as much as it’s about a physical quest.

Dory (voiced wonderfully yet again by DeGeneres) was the humour and heart of the 2003 original, but her goldfish-style memory was played purely for laughs. This time around, her memory is examined in the context of a disability, and much like Nemo’s under-sized flipper in the original, plays a central part in the film and its all-abilities subtext, which is just one of the beautiful pieces to this well-rounded Pixar puzzle.

Like all Pixar movies (except Cars 2), this has some golden moments that hit you right in the feels. While it’s not in same league as Up, the introduction to Finding Dory could have you "trying to get something out of your eye", and the movie’s emotional crescendo will do likewise.

In one sense, this is the same movie as Finding Nemo – a fish searches for its family, colourful characters help along the way, disabilities are overcome, and lessons are learnt. But while it may match a few plot points, Finding Dory also matches the spirit and tone of its predecessor in wonderful new ways, which makes it a joy to behold.

It’s as funny and as heartwarming as the first film. It does go way over the top towards the end in an effort to jump the impossible plot hurdles the script keeps putting in front of Dory and co, but all ages will love this for the feelgood family fun that it is.


PS. On a side note, the short at the beginning of the film is called Piper and it’s beautiful and cute, so make sure you get there on time. And also, stick around until after the credits for a great additional scene. Bizarrely, despite watching Finding Dory in a full cinema, I was the only person who bothered to wait until the end of the credits. Everyone else’s loss.

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