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Finding Dory (2016)

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Score: 10/10

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: June 17th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Andrew Stanton Actors: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Sigourney Weaver

O

ne year after helping clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his missing son Nemo (Hayden Rolence), blue tang Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) embarks on her own adventure to search for her family. During a school field trip with Nemo to watch the stingray migration, Dory is cautioned about the strong “undertow” – and the word triggers memories about a similar warning from her parents, Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy). Determined to remember more and locate her mother and father, Dory heads to California, with Marlin and Nemo in tow. Once there, the trio discovers the Marine Life Institute, a massive rehabilitation center and aquarium. With the aid of new friends Hank (Ed O’Neill), Fluke (Idris Elba), Rudder (Dominic West), and more, Dory begins piecing together snippets of her past to discover the fate of her parents.

Everyone’s favorite short-term-memory-loss-suffering fish is back, this time starring in her own show and getting to relive and redeliver many of her hysterical routines. Although her disability here is even more severe, generating significant, almost stressful amounts of affliction, it’s all part of the theme of overcoming setbacks. She may be disastrously forgetful, but a major part of her voyage is to figure out ways to transform her misfortunes into boons.

And in doing so, her tale becomes a very human, very emotional one of enlightenment, identifying inner strengths, never giving up, and establishing new friendships with indispensable allies. It also leads to one of Pixar’s most mesmerizingly poignant sequences, rivaling even the opening scene from “Up,” which is now renowned for its exceptional beauty and stunning heartbreak. There’s an emotional wallop here that goes beyond any single moment in “Finding Nemo,” which gives this new picture an undeniable edge and consequence rarely seen in sequels (or animated features, or cinema in general).

But Pixar sequels are no ordinary follow-ups. Even though many returning bit parts make an appearance (including a bucktoothed, bug-eyed, nerdy classmate fish, the surfer-guy turtle, and the singing manta ray teacher); the plot retreads familiar terrain to repeat the basic concept of an epic, cross-sea expedition; or a menacing squid replaces an out-of-control shark, a detrimental, loss-of-creativity sense of repetition never seeps into the proceedings. Instead, the dialogue gets cleverer, the quirky jokes about specific species become more creatively bizarre, and the character designs grow ever more caricaturized and comical. Hank the octopus is one of the most impressive CG creations so far in the industry, utilizing photorealistic textures, spot-on movements, and a camouflage gimmick that is so sensational, the filmmakers chose to showcase it again in the closing credits.

Where the first film was a harrowing odyssey across the vast unknown, this continuation shifts into a monumental mystery, retaining the themes of friendship, trust, negative reinforcement, and confidence, while also adding the notion of manipulating adversity into resolve. In its mix of superior visuals, a recognizable and endearing voice cast, laugh-out-loud gags, and a level of pathos not witnessed since “Toy Story 3,” “Finding Dory” becomes a technical and artistic masterpiece. For a film set in the ocean, it somehow even manages to throw in a car chase sequence.

– The Massie Twins

 

 



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