FINDING DORY (8 out of 10) Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane; Written by Andrew Stanton; Starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O'Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver; Running time 97 minutes; Rated PG for "mild thematic elements"; In wide release June 17, 2016.
If Dory would have seen this movie, she would have immediately forgotten it. Unfortunately so will a lot of viewers. Beautiful and brilliant, it's also a little bit dark for a children's movie. And while it's full of the Pixar-brand cocktail balancing laughs and heart, it's less substantive and more, well... forgettable. And not just for fish with short term memory problems.
Despite those failings, it's still brilliant and an excellent film. But it's more "The Good Dinosaur" and less "Inside Out"-- fun and beautiful to look at, but not quite as deep as some of Pixar's best work. It also falls short of this year's smash hit "Zootopia," but not by much. It suffers from sequel-itis, but those who love "Finding Nemo" will find even more to enjoy here.
Our story begins with Dory remembering something for a change: her family. Once again travelling across the ocean with Marlin and Nemo, they go on a quest to find them. On their way they (all-too briefly) reunite with Crush the sea turtle, meet a nearsighted whale shark named Destiny, a beluga whale with a broken sonar, a couple of territorial sea lions, and Hank the octopus, played by Ed O'Neil. Hank steals the movie and is really the only reason to watch.
While both Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres do a great job reprising their roles, the movie doesn't really get going until Hank shows up almost halfway through. His character arc and the visual gags he pulls off rival the best of other Pixar films. For most of the film, Marlin and Nemo are separated from Dory, leaving Hank as Dory's grumpy sidekick. And Hank outshines Marlin as being both exasperated and eventually inspired by Dory's unique optimism and determination.
Regardless of these critical nit-picks, "Finding Dory" is a really enjoyable ride. Kids will love it, especially those who grew up with Nemo, Dory, and Marlin. If this is your jam, you'll have a great time.
And make sure you stay through the credits. Not only do the credits contain lots of fun gags involving Hank, but there is an after-credits scene featuring some familiar friends. Also make sure you get there in time to see the short before the film-- Piper. It pushes the limits of digital animation and looks almost photo-realistic.
8 out of 10