Film review: FINDING DORY, from ‘Built For Speed’

The 2003 film Finding Nemo was a box office hit that mixed masterful animation and adorable characters to create an instant family favourite. Almost stealing the film from the title character was Nemo’s faithful and forgetful friend Dory who was voiced memorably by Ellen DeGeneres. Given that film’s success a sequel was inevitable and Disney Pixar has wisely focused on DeGeneres lovable Blue Tang Fish for Finding Dory.

The title is slightly misleading as no one’s actually searching for Dory in fact she is searching for her parents Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Dianne Keaton) who she lost as a child when she was whisked away by a powerful current. Teaming up with old buddies Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and with aid of a grumpy octopus Hank (Ed O’Neil), Dory goes in search of her long lost parents, a journey that takes her across the ocean to a Californian marine research facility.

The plot of these Dory/ Nemo films is of less importance than cute, quirky comic set pieces and adorable characters, all of which this film delivers. While lacking the first film’s sparkling originality, this sequel is just about as clever, inventive and fun. The film is really a series of wonderfully conceived set-pieces that draw on movie tropes and the distinctive characteristics of marine creatures.

Ellen is just as funny and endearing as she was in the first film but also adds a moving quality as Dory desperately struggles to piece together fragments of memories that might lead to her parents. Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence do a terrific job voicing the neurotic Marlin and innocent Nemo respectively. As well as Hank the film introduces some wonderful new characters such as Destiny the near-sighted whale shark, Bailey the beluga whale and a couple of sea lions who talk like English geezers.

Finding Dory does repeat some of the gags and scenarios from the first film but there’s enough inspired new material to stave off any Dory fatigue. That said, the film does have a couple of lapses where it is unable to overcome the limitations of its thin plot.

Most of the film is very cute and kid-friendly and shows the ocean creatures to be suspiciously co-operative and humane although there is one sequence with a nasty beaky squid that might be a little intense for youngsters. Some viewers, however, might recoil at the idea of sea creatures living it up at a marine park and there were apparently script changes in the wake of the disturbing Killer Whale documentary Blackfish.

Finding Dory does not deliver the startling cinematic experience of Finding Nemo but it’s fun, endearing and as visually remarkable as any of the highly sophisticated animation films we’ve seen in recent years.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2.

Genre: Animated/ comedy.

Classification: G.

Director(s): Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane.

Release date: 23rd June 2016.

Running time: 97 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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