The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Andrew Stanton, Idris Elba, Sigourney Weaver, Dominic West, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon
Rated: PG (mild thematic elements)
By Matt Greene
Finding Nemo was a groundbreaking feast of state-of-the-art oceanic visuals and piercing emotions. With Dory, Pixar used 13 years of experience to take the animation even further, while slightly bogging down with overly familiar storytelling. Luckily, that familiarity is mostly forgiven. Through some smart retrofitting of our absent-minded protagonist, they’ve managed the difficult task of taking a comic-relief side-character and giving her pathos and passion (take note, Minions). Outside of Toy Story, Dory is the best Pixar sequel to date.
We pick up one year after Nemo made it back home, with some distant memories of her parents conveniently creeping back into Dory’s memory, leading her on a journey to find them. She is still the lovable short-term memory loss loser we grew to love, but director/writer Stanton takes her disease a much more seriously here. Surprisingly, the film has some really insightful things to say about dealing with mental illness, both for the individual and the people who care for them. This being a Pixar film, the tears flowed freely (i.e. an emotionally wrecking scene involving paths of shells).
Not that this purely a dreary occasion; far from it. Dory is arguably one of the LOL funniest films in the Pixar cannon. Including an effective horror movie spoof in the form of a fish-touching pool, a perfect use of Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World”, and a hilarious use of Sigourney Weaver, it’s filled with clever humor. If only that cleverness spread into the plotting a little more (Dory’s memory loss is full of inconsistencies to further the story), this may be slightly more unforgettable. So while Dory’s not top-tier Pixar, it’s still solid family fare.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
By Cole Schneider
Nemo, Marlin, and Dory are back from Pixar’s 2003 hit “Finding Nemo”, and so is director Andrew Stanton. Can “Finding Dory” live up to the standards of its beloved predecessor? The answer, of course, is no; but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worthwhile. “Dory” is probably, in fact, funnier than “Nemo”—there’s a constant stream of verbal wit and the physical humor is relentless. Another successful carryover from “Nemo” is the new colorful side-characters. Among them, a bird named Becky (perhaps Pixar’s zaniest creation since their last bird, Kevin from “Up”), a pair of territorial sea lions, Rudder and Fluke (voiced by The Wire’s Dominic West and Idris Elba), and Hank the ill-tempered octopus (or septopus, as Dory points out after noticing he’s missing a tentacle) are standouts.
Where “Dory” is so clearly less than “Nemo” is in its story construction and emotional arc. “Nemo” had a simple yet—because of the storytelling clarity—effective emotional core: father and son seek reunification, each maturing in necessary ways as they journey toward each other. The memory impaired Dory is also now seeking after her parents (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy) and there is some degree of earned affectation, but because of shoddier storytelling much of it is lost. Nearly every scene in the movie is the same: we’re here now and we need to escape to get there; now we’re here and we need to get there. Then separately, Dory reveals her family dynamic through a series of flashbacks, creating a monotony that didn’t exist in “Nemo”. Still, and even with a climax that stretches too far, “Dory” is a fun summer sequel for kids and their parents.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars