Finding Dory, 2016.
Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane.
Featuring the voice talents of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Eugene Levy, Diane Keaton, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, Dominic West and Idris Elba.
The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.
Unforgettable, that’s what you are. Well not you fair reader (although we do love you greatly!), the reference alludes to Pixar, cinema’s almighty purveyor of animated delights that have catapulted us through oceans, toy barns, incredible feats of incredible-ness and the inner workings of the young mind. Unforgettable experiences all but none have been quite literally unforgettable than Finding Nemo or more specifically his friend Dory, the absent-minded blue tang that literally crashed into his and father Marlin’s life back in 2003. Thirteen years later (though just the one in ocean years), the threesome haven’t slowed down but is Finding Dory more Toy Story 2/3 than Cars 2?
A year has passed since Marlin (Brooks) and Dory (DeGeneres) fought off seagulls, sharks and countless other obstacles to rescue Nemo from a dentist’s waiting room fish tank and bring him home safely. No closer to remembering her life before meeting the father and son duo, Dory has settled into life with them even helping out with the school trips now and again as a pseudo-school mum but such activities see her soon yearn for her own parents and memories begin to flood back. Desperate to find them, she sets off back into the dark recesses of the Atlantic in search of father Charlie (Levy) and mother Jenny (Keaton).
What is always so true with any Pixar film is just how wonderful all the environments they create feel once you’re transported into them and none more so with both Nemo and now Dory with every element of the ocean floors and aquatic life brought to life with immense detail and beauty. It feels like we’ve never left when Dory kicks off, the blue-green sea rippled with the wonderful sunlight from above as the mesmeric colours of the cove’s are superbly rendered once again. Indeed Pixar has come a long way since the first adventure in terms of technical abilities (hell, even Nemo was leap years forward from their early beginnings) but now at their apex, it really feels as though you are looking into a glass tank or taking a scuba trip into the deep blue such is the majesty of the images.
With original director Andrew Stanton back to take the sequel reigns after his unsuccessful John Carter venture, everything feels like home both in terms of design and look but also in the story department. It would have been very easy to have made Finding Nemo 2, focusing again on the young clownfish as he explores the wonders of the deep but shifting the focus keeps everything as fresh and vibrant as its surroundings. But Pixar equally excels when dealing with the reality of its stories whatever the situation and Dory will pull at the heartstrings as much as tickle the funny bone. Stanton and co-writer Victoria Strouse beautifully balance the laughs with true and meaningful reflections of loss and separation and that our flaws, however, big or small, should inspire rather than suppress. That said, some moments don’t touch the heart as deeply as they should while the final act is perhaps a slapstick stretch too far but it’s never anything less than deliriously entertaining.
And of course, when you have the comedic brilliance of Ellen DeGeneres front and centre, half the battle is won. The comedian and talk-show host has been aching for a sequel to be made and having got her wish she tackles it with full force, filling the screen with both heart and humour. It’s easy to see why such talents as Eugene Levy, Diane Keaton, Ed O’Neill and the always superb Bill Hader when supporting characters such as these as wonderfully realised as everything else on show. Keep those ears peeled for a very funny cameo too.
Any fears that the long-awaited sequel to Nemo was never going to work are slain within minutes as Pixar hits another home run – you’d think they were getting tired by now. Joyous, touching and superbly realised, Finding Dory is a sequel worthy of the name and one that could easily be even bigger than its predecessor. Get the swimming cossies and goggles at the ready and just keep swimming.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Scott J. Davis is a Senior Staff Writer and Roving Reporter for Flickering Myth – Follow him on Twitter