Film Review: Finding Dory

Taking a swim down memory lane is a tricky business when you forget things and repeat yourself every few seconds. Finding Dory is as entertaining, soul enriching and bittersweet as any Pixar production to date. Once again striking just the right balance of visual gags, crystalline clear animation, plenty of riotous hijinks both above and below water, and cracking tongue in cheek jokes for older audience members, the peerless animation studio has another success on its hands, or rather its fins. On a more serious note - and in the mould of Up and most recently Inside Out - Finding Dory continues their focus on teaching worthwhile lessons on both the limitations imposed by, and advantages to, certain physical and mental impairments.

There's nothing wrong with being different or having something "wrong" with you and if it takes all manner of sea creatures to help us humans see that we should all just keep swimming. After young Nemo (now voiced by Hayden Rolence) put his "lucky fin" to good use saving his pals in the former film, this time around it is Dory's short term memory loss and inventive problem-solving skills that test just what the eponymous blue tang fish can and cannot do. It is hard to believe that thirteen years have passed since Finding Nemo, but if remembering the first film is a challenge then fear not. After a brief prologue, with an adorable young Dory at home with her parents (Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton), struggling to remember the safety rules and then disastrously whisked away by the ominous "undertow", a speedy growing up montage brings us up to date via a quick excursion to the events of 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.

Now living in relative harmony with her clan of clown fish, the absent-minded blue tang, once again voiced by the wonderful Ellen DeGeneres, bonks herself on the head and images of a long-forgotten past resurface. One should always listen to instinct and, put on the right path by an all too brief cameo by Crush (co-director Andrew Stanton on righteous form), the action moves to California. "I'm Sigourney Weaver." says Sigourney Weaver, introducing a marine sanctuary where Dory is convinced she will find her parents. There are allusions to the morality of marine enclosures - especially in the case of whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), but her short-sightedness and frequent bumps into walls plays more for laughs than tears.

Rescue, rehabilitation and release are the name of the game here but for grouchy octopus - in fact, septopus - Hank (Modern Family's Ed O'Neill), life on the inside is much better than the big bad sea. Stellar animation, that instils such an extraordinary range of expression, is perhaps best used on the colour-shifting Hank whose chameleon like abilities come in very handy indeed. He's a tough old bugger whose stony heart melts thanks to the unlikeliest of partnerships with Dory. A breathless climax, where the echolocation skills of beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell) are vital is tremendously silly but you'll cheer to the end. If that's not enough, Idris Elba and Dominic West appear as cockney layabout sea lions. What more could you want?

Matthew Anderson | @behind_theseens


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