********* 7 out of 10 *********
Director: Andrew Stanton
Actors: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
Pixar’s latest movie Finding Dory is meant to be a sequel to the studio’s 2003 hit Finding Nemo. But in many ways, Finding Dory can be seen as a freshly minted film. First of all, it completely shifts the focus away from Nemo to Dory, the forgetful fish who brought out the humourous side in the previous movie. And secondly, a 13-year gap is a really long time even for the ardent Pixar fans to hold on to the joy felt while watching Finding Nemo. Pixar too does not push for this movie to be seen as a sequel. There is the established connection between Dory, Nemo and Nemo’s father Marlin, but beyond that we are on new ground now, in a new adventure, once again underneath the oceans, which is once more enjoyable, colourful and heart-warming.
In Finding Dory, it is Dory’s parents who have to be found after Dory remembers bits of her past. She is now desperate to reconnect with her parents whom she has not seen for a long time. Marlin is not too keen on going across the ocean once again, but much to his chagrin he becomes part of a bigger adventure when Dory gets picked up by volunteers from the nearby Marine Life Institute. It is a bit like Finding Nemo all over again, but the adventure is restricted largely to the Marine Life Institute which looks a lot safer place than the ocean that Marlin had to conquer in the previous movie. The story by Andrew Stanton, who also wrote and directed Finding Nemo, lacks the ‘Pixar’ magic for about one half of the movie; it is too straightforward, even pedantic at times, and looks to have been targeted for the youngest section of the audience. But something takes over the whole theme as the adventure moves deeper inside the Institute; the story shifts gears, relationships are formed that create a better emotional connect, and the movie finally starts to feel meaningful. The ‘Pixar’ touch is discovered and the movie ends on an emotional high, like a grand crescendo finish to a musical piece.
The animation work is spectacular by Pixar, as the studio takes us underwater to see a vibrant and colourful marine life, last seen in Finding Nemo. Species and species of various underwater creatures drawn by Pixar are awe-inspiring, once again demonstrating the heights to which the animation industry – and Pixar – has scaled in the last decade. There are fewer dark-toned moments in Finding Dory as compared to the recent Pixar flicks, which would make a lot of parents happy. There is the quintessential ‘goosebump moment’ that no other animation studio can capture as perfectly as Pixar does.
The movie’s charm also comes from its protagonist Dory and the lady behind her voice, Ellen DeGeneres. Dory is absolutely adorable but what makes her all the more loveable is DeGeneres’ quirkiness, the desire in her voice to do the right thing, the conviction in her voice to stand by what she believes in. We also get to see a very young Dory in flashback moments, and that young Dory is so infinitesimally cute that I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes the best-selling item in the toy store. Albert Brooks returns as the brooding Marlin again, and he is spectacular once more, carrying the serious tone to the otherwise adventurous movie. The rest of the voice cast is fantastic too; we have Ed O’Neill playing a grumpy octopus, young Hayden Rolence voices Nemo, Ty Burrell and Kaitlin Olson voice respectively a beluga whale and a whale shark who help out Dory, and of course, you can’t fail to notice Idris Elba voicing one of the sea lions.
Finding Dory may not be Pixar’s strongest works, but that does not stop it from being an adventure worth embarking on. It is humorous, emotional and thoughtful, enhanced by the wonderful visual scenery that Pixar can flawlessly paint. Pixar seems to have redeemed itself from the lacklustre The Good Dinosaur which came out late last year, but we also know that the studio has an Inside Out always round the corner. Until we take that corner, Finding Dory is a step in the right direction!