The Bock’s Office: ‘Finding Dory’ a fine, funny fin-tastic sequel
Memory is a tricky thing.
A movie you held in high regard more than 10 years ago may remain in your mind as the best thing you’ve ever seen, or it could just as easily be replaced by the next big fad.
Most viewers aren’t likely to forget the feature that preceded “Finding Dory,” yet most who watch this sequel will be remembering it for new reasons.
If you go…
“Finding Dory,” rated PG
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 103 minutes
Starring the voices of: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill and Kaitlin Olson.
Tomorrow is always another day for Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), a fish whose short-term memory loss has its pros and cons.
On one fin, being an amnesiac means always experiencing new things and making new friends. On the other fin, this means everything must be re-explained again and again, though Dory’s companions, father and son Marlin and Nemo (Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence), have gotten used to this.
As much as she’s grown accustomed to drifting through life, Dory is suddenly hit by a revelation that has long slipped her mind: she needs to find the family she was separated from years ago.
With a newfound determination, Dory traverses the ocean to figure out where she came from and recall memories both good and bad about her childhood and how it forever changed her.
The first time around, Ellen made Dory endearing through pure quirkiness as an absent-minded chatterbox who happened to be willing to drop everything and help a stranger find his kid. Now, the voice actress who made the blue tang so unforgettable does it again, adding more profundity to the character, who can be both hilarious and heartbreaking in her quest to find the parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy) she can only remember in bits and pieces.
Brooks makes a welcome but arguably unnecessary return as Marlin, the least humorous clownfish in the sea, who hasn’t outgrown his overprotective, fuddy-duddy daddy ways when it comes to those he loves.
He isn’t alone, though, in telling Dory she’s out of her element.
Ed O’Neill joins the gang as an obstinate octopus named Hank our heroine encounters in a marine rescue center, the cantankerous cephalopod willing to help her achieve her goal if she’ll return the favor by getting him sent to an aquarium for the rest of his life.
Captivity, sweet captivity.
Then again, you might desire to be behind glass too if your time in the open water resulted in a lost limb and an unwanted designation as a septapus.
Pixar hasn’t shied away from advocating for the downtrodden before, and the overall subtext of overcoming one’s disabilities is further flushed out by Kaitlin Olson as Dory’s childhood pal, a half-blind whale shark named Destiny and Ty Burrell as a beluga who feels useless without a functioning sense of echolocation.
While the animation studio played Dory’s selective memory for laughs in “Finding Nemo,” the greater focus on her not only turns it serious but often altogether tragic, providing another cartoon that crushes our souls within the first 15 minutes as a young Dory spends her formative years forever searching for help, losing her concentration and trying again, repeating the cycle enough times to bring tears to your eyes.
The origin of “Just keep swimming…” will also leave a lump in your throat.
Pixar gets it absolutely right in trying to appeal to special needs children and their families, who will empathize with Dory’s struggles, though they don’t risk much in recreating their original hit.
There’s far less of a sense of danger than there was in “Nemo,” the premise of which seemed impossible, and the new installment merely seems improbable.
Besides a repeat of the story about seeking out someone who’s lost, so many elements are pointlessly recreated or duplicated. For instance, instead of a flock of seagulls squawking “Mine!” now we have two pampered sea lions (Idris Elba, Dominic West) repeatedly barking “Off!” to any intruders on their favorite sunning rock.
Don’t overexert yourself, Andrew Stanton.
The universal appeal of “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite the same in “Finding Dory,” but the sequel’s strength is in taking someone who was regarded as a little too much of a joke and developing her into a more rounded character, one who can inspire a group of people that is often overlooked.
Of course, there’s also the advice that everyone can use when they’re lost: keep calm and do as Sigourney Weaver tells you.
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