Finding Dory **1/2

It has some cute moments, but the story is lacking in this “Finding Nemo” sequel.

Is it worth $10? Yes

For years, “Finding Dory” was a sequel that wasn’t going to happen. Then inspiration struck director Andrew Stanton, and the result is a movie that maybe shouldn’t have happened after all. This is a sweet, occasionally funny, and sometimes-tedious sequel to Pixar Animation’s 2003 breakout hit “Finding Nemo”; you will enter with great excitement and exit with mild disappointment.

Everyone’s favorite blue tang fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), misses her parents. The film opens with young Dory (Sloane Murray) and her lovingly patient parents (Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton) as they try to teach her how to always make it back home to their reef. Being the forgetful fish that she is, she loses them anyway.

Nowadays she lives a cozy life with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence), but can’t shake the desire to find her long-lost parents. This takes her, Marlin and Nemo on an adventure to the Marine Life Institute where she thinks she last saw her folks. Numerous newfound friends assist in her quest, including an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neil), a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a beluga whale named Bailey (Ty Burrell), and two sea lions named Fluke (Idris Elba) and Rudder (Dominic West).

Stanton’s screenplay is episodic; it sends Dory on a seemingly endless journey that she sometimes forgets why she’s on – meaning we can’t trust what she thinks or says. Therefore as Dory, Marlin and Nemo move from one detour to the next it never feels like they’re moving forward or getting any closer to Dory’s parents. Every obstacle they could possibly face they do face, and as a result the ending is arbitrary and anti-climactic – it’s necessary and inevitable rather than earned and organic. Children may not notice this, but it’ll be painfully obvious to parents trying to keep the kids sitting still.

None of this, however, diminishes the superb 3D animation – the water flows around the fish with almost surreal calm, always a bit darker and murkier than the more crisp and clear fresh air. The detail on the animals is also impressive, especially Hank, who’s a mimic octopus (actually a septopus – he’s missing a tentacle) able to camouflage into his surroundings at a moment’s notice to remain inconspicuous. Pixar animators called Hank the hardest character they’ve ever worked on, and given the numerous changes he makes to blend in, and the way he moves, it’s easy to see why.

“Finding Dory” is far from a total bust, and clearly – clearly – this isn’t just a selfish cash grab like many sequels are. It doesn’t even set up for a third movie, and given the avarice that governs Hollywood, that deserves credit. If only it was actually better on its own. You want it to be good, and you may lie to yourself and think it’s higher quality than it actually is. It’s enjoyable, but needs to be better.

Did you know?
Per imdb: With over 25 million likes, Dory is the most liked character on Facebook from any Disney or Pixar film.

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