Oceans of fun with fishy gang
Pixar’s sequel output thus far has ranged from the sublime (Toy Story 2 and 3) to the average (Monsters University) – and the less said about Cars 2 the better.
Falling somewhere in between, Finding Dory can’t match the magic of its predecessor, but still has plenty going for it.
The focus this time switches from Nemo to forgetful tang fish Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as she tries to find her long-lost parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy).
A sad, affecting opening sees a cutesy young Dory struggling with her memory and finding herself separated from her mum and dad in the type of heart-tugging sequence we’ve come to associate with Pixar.
But Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse’s screenplay rarely hits those emotional heights again, with Dory’s escapades very much motoring on into comic capers.
Stanton – who co-helmed Finding Nemo – also shares directing duties with Angus MacLane, who makes his feature-length debut after nearly 20 years working on Pixar’s animation department.
At one point the returning Nemo’s dad Marlin (again voiced by Albert Brooks) says “not again”, and it’s a fairly accurate reflection of this sequel as many beats and plot-points are rehashed from the original.
You know what they say about ‘if things aren’t broke...’, though, and the fishy gang’s adventures – that take them from the ocean to the Marine Life Institute – are never dull.
The animation team cleverly use prams, buckets, coffee pots and cups to get Dory and co across dry land and their helter skelter minimissions result in a brisk pace.
We take it as a given that Pixar movies are going to look stunning, but Dory really is a technical triumph, serving up some of the studio’s best visuals yet.
From the wisping sands, flowing seaweed and bubbly jetstreams of the ocean to a Marine Life Institute that looks and feels like a living, breathing environment, at times you genuinely forget you’re not watching a live-action flick.
Only the world of animation, however, could deliver a sequence bristling with joy, jokes and minute details as the slo-mo descent aptly soundtracked to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.
The voice cast are all top-notch too, led by an energetic, lovable DeGeneres. Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill’s cranky, seven-limbed octopus Hank is a welcome addition and Idris Elba (Fluke) and Dominic West (Rudder) are a riot as a pair of mouthy sea lions.
Brooks and Hayden Rolence – the new voice of Nemo – restore their touching father-son bond, Keaton and Levy are warmth personified and there’s a neat voice cameo from a big name actress.
It’s no instant classic, ala Inside Out, but Finding Dory takes what worked in Nemo and uses it to supply cute capers full of fun for all the family.
Muddled memory Dory hunts for her missing parents